Way back in the golden years of the Internet (that's 1995 and earlier), financial sites on the Web were few and far between. One of the earliest sites to recognize the power of Internet technology was Stockmaster.com, a charting site that was hosted on a server at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It wasn't an official MIT project, at least not at first, but rather a labor of love of Ph.D. candidate Mark Torrance. Torrance was managing the Intelligent Room project at MIT at the time, working on his doctorate dissertation and developing artificial intelligence programs to make the rooms in our homes more habitable. At the Stockmaster site, investors could see charts of their favorite stocks in vibrant colors. When images were introduced to the HTTP protocol (the standards used to deliver web pages on the net), Torrance recognized that a picture of a stock chart was indeed worth a thousand stock quotes. Of course, back then, web sites had grey backgrounds -- and grey backgrounds only -- so it didn't take much to wow that early Web audience. But Stockmaster was a step up in the functionality of the Web for investors.
In 1996, Torrance left MIT, and Stockmaster finally became master of its own domain, Stockmaster.com. In May of 2000, magazine publisher Red Herring purchased Stockmaster, and in March of 2001, the company folded Stockmaster completely into its own Red Herring Investor Center. Stockmaster lives no more.
No word on what Mark Torrance is up to these days, but I hope he's kicking back somewhere in high style, looking back on how the Internet has evolved since those pioneering days back in 1993 when he had the idea for generating stock charts on the Internet.
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