TahoeHighSierra.com started out in the mid-90s in a cabin on the Truckee River meadow on the edge of the forest...
...just outside the town of South Lake Tahoe, where your hosts Tom and Mary Kay Aufrance of Aufrance Associates did business in their loft with a high speed phone connection, several Web servers and a batch of phone lines to provide full Internet services, including local dial-in accounts and email as well as Web sites. It was quite a sight to see the enormous bundle of phone wires that was strung from the phone pole to our rustic remote chalet in those days!
"We couldn't start our business in a garage, because we didn't have a garage!" laughs Mary Kay. "And, every Spring when the snow melted, the T-1 line would get flooded in a manhole out on Pioneer Trail, until the phone company got out there to dry it out," adds Tom.
The banner on top of every page on the site, with a rainbow shining in front of the ridge up to Mt. Tallac, was taken from a photo that Mary Kay snapped from the deck of the cabin. She took the photo at 6:30AM one morning with an old 70's era pre-digital Minolta SLR camera and digitized it for the Web site by using a big old flat-bed scanner hooked up to a Mac Quadra 650. Those were the early days of the Internet.
With that beautiful view of the meadow, mountains and wildlife, plus an appreciation for outdoor activities, the Aufrances embarked on several Internet ventures.
The original web site was HighSierra
Back then, the name was HighSierra, which we changed to TahoeHighSierra.com many years later.
"We used HighSierra.com to test and promote our software for web servers, and we financed our startup by using our own software to build websites for local businesses. In our first year, we wrote a ton of code and produced seven software products! We called it all Software for Internet, and sold it worldwide. Then, pretty soon we could afford to build a garage!" says Mary Kay with a laugh.
The first of many Firsts on the Internet
From the loft of their Tahoe cabin to the world, the Aufrances' web site became the first web site in the entire world with useful business applications, such as a complete multiple listing service for real estate professionals!
Talk about disruptive technology! "We thought real estate was a great application that cried out for automation on the Internet," says Tom, "Then, we branched out from that starting point." The Aufrances used their own local web site as the beta site for a suite of business software products for Web servers. Their Real Estate Internet™ became the world wide web' first Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The Aufrances' Calendar Internet ™ is the first Internet calendar system. Same goes for the first survey tool aptly named Survey Internet™. More database systems for the internet and even an online shopping cart OrderIT! followed. "We wrote our first seven software products for the Internet in something like one year! Tom is a genius of software development and I coded the user interface and wrote the user manuals," Mary Kay adds that "Real Estate Internet and OrderIT! are still in use on TahoeHighSierra.com, and I super enjoy tinkering with those apps and the web pages."
Even though the TahoeHighSierra.com real estate and lodging pages once included hundreds of Realtors and all listings from the three regional Tahoe Reno Northern California Nevada realty boards, plus worldwide hotel and motel properties, it's currently focused on lodging and vacation rentals only. And fun!
Way back to the early days of the Web, "We decided that instead of seeking to go big time ride the Internet boom roller coaster, we wanted to invest our business efforts into developing software and services and a business that we could run as our own small and independent sole proprietorship. Today, we still enjoy the benefits of running things on our own, and TahoeHighSierra.com is still full of search engines and wizards and other spiffy features that we created together. "Sometimes I can't believe our code still works!" Nevetheless indeed, we still enjoy life in the Sierra Nevadas whenever possible, as well as any place where we can find great skiing!"
Still getting out there and online
"Although we have grown out of the little loft with skylights where we viewed many a starry Tahoe night while developing Web sites and software, we still enjoy keeping TahoeHighSierra.com alive. Plus, we feel blessed that we have a lot more time for getting out there to hike, run or bike the trails, ski and also pursue music. We have many customers who, like us, started on the Web in the mid-90s and are still with us! We're grateful for the business relationships and friends that TahoeHighSierra.com has prospered! Thank you for using TahoeHighSierra.com."
Your Web hosts,
Tom and Mary Kay