I launched Cementhorizon on February 21, 2002. The intent was to create an online presense for a real world physical community of people roughly based in the San Francisco bay area. At the time members of the community were moving to new cities and keeping in contact was becoming more difficult with the physical distance. I hoped to make it easier for everyone to maintain these relationships across these distances by having an online space for the community to communicate.
At the time in 2002 there were few tools for this sort of thing. Gmail did not yet exist and many people found themselves having to change email providers every few years as they changed internet providers or free online email providers. Weblogs had been around at this point for about 4 years but there were no market leading free blog hosting providers, blogger.com was launched in 1999. There were no social networks at the time, Friendster launched after I started Cementhorizon also in 2002. There were no free online photo hosting providers, Flickr wouldn't launch until 2004.
Cementhorizon began as combination of a hosted installation of the multi user blogging software, Movable Type which had come out a year before, Geeklog, a content management system, and custom code to create integrate the two. Cementhorizon users could publish posts on their blogs or stories on the main Cementhorizon site. This is what the site looked like a few months after it was launched. In addition to the website and blogs, email hosting with a webmail interface was provided to users.
In September 2002 the Cementhorizon branding and theme were completed and published. At this point the site also had collaborative calendaring and event listing functionality and a system showing who was using the site currently and who had logged in recently which significantly increased the sense of real time communication on the site. It was at this point that there would be frequent real time conversations between community members through comment threads as a poor mans realtime chat.
Over the next 2 years I added functionality to the site, turning the main page into an aggregated view of all users blogs and comments, adding photo gallery photo hosting , a bulletin board, and a shared address book (as mobile phone usage at the time was about 64% of the population) that users could collaboratively edit.
Starting in 2004 the site was moved to a colocated server named Gloria running in a storage closet at the Mi Rancho tortilla factory near the Oakland airport.
In January 2008 the site was moved onto a new colocated server hosted by ServerTweak in the Hurricane Electric datacenter in Fremont, this time a virtual machine called Odessa running on a physical server shared with a few friends. The hosting provider went out of business in December 2008 so we moved to a new provider ServerMinds at a Rely.net datacenter in Rancho Cordova. ServerMinds went out of business in February 2010 and we became customers of the datacenter, Rely.net. We moved out of Rely.net in September 2010 to be hosted by Cernio in a Layer42 datacenter in Santa Clara and I took over the physical host. In December of 2012 I retired the physical host and moved to a virtual server named Eva hosted by IO Cooperative in a Honeycomb datacenter in Minneapolis.
Over the eight years from 2004 until around 2012 the need for many of the services provided on the site decreased as the internet matured. Many people moved to Gmail for email services, blogging began to die out in favor of social networks, photo hosting initially began to move to Flickr and then that also declined and photos were consumed by social networks. The need for a service like Cementhorizon has decreased drastically.
At this point the site hosts a handful of Wordpress weblogs, a few small business websites, a photo gallery used by a few users, a wiki exclusively used by me and a couple other tools.