Gather 'round, n00bs and old farts!
Let me paint you a picture of devious struggles and highlights of days long gone.
First off, browsing art back in *my* day, we had to scroll uphill, both ways. Even in winter. Without friction smoothing mouse gloves. The mousewheel was barely out of the prototype stages.
Often, shit didn't even load. Heck, in the beginning, thumbnails weren't even thumbnail sized - More like ring finger sized.
Endless scrolling was a concept yet untought of. 24 "thumbs" per page. I'm not sure if that used to a maximum and you could have even less. Today's river thumbs used be tiny puddles of pinkies. Back then you could browse via a text/link list. Can you imagine browsing image content today by just text - "TITLE by ARTIST, submitted on DATE" - Well damn, sounds intriguing, might be worth the bandwidth and loading time. I hope my browser won't crash while rendering the page. I'll just go take a dump in the meantime.
You couldn't even embed deviation thumbnails anywhere! In the old News system, when we could finally implement custom HTML code and thus images in news posts, art features became all the rage. It was a golden age. That was the inception for the idea of HTML/CSS customizable journals and later on entire profile pages. Art features by now are an integral part of DA. Many are here only to do just that. Imagine not being able to do that back then. And installable journal skins! Imagine posting your daily MLP fanart feature without a severely sub-optimal looking barely working journal skin. It was dark, thumbless times indeed.
There were periods of bandwidth drought. There were unexpected outages and somewhat expected maintenance outages. Luckily at some point someone invented read-only mode, which was such a tease. You could look, but not touch.
A few times the site was down for many hours, even DAYS, and we had to comfort each other in IRC chats. That was before we gave that new-fangled Skype thing a try. You don't know how game-changing it was to chat one on one and even in GROUPS with other staff on a desktop app. And... VOICE. CALLS. on the INTERNET. And before you even think it, ~xXxEmoAngel666xXx~, get the fuck out of here with AIM or MSN or Yahoo instant messenger garbage.
Customizeable skinnable modular profiles were a wet sci-fi dream. There were various shades of dark grimey gray-greens which nobody could ever agree on. Is it green, is it gray. It was both, and it was mind fuckers. But things literally got brighter with every site iteration.
Iterations? DA used to get a major design / functionality upgrade every year on its birthday. Or around its birthday, depending on how well the codemonkeys wrangled with the new beasts. We used to count major site versions until we ran out of fingers on our single hand to count further.
There's to be a really dope Today page. Now we have none at all? Or did they hide it? Anyway, the Today page used to have all things of the day on it, almost real-time new stuff as well as popular stuff, including neat stats that web companies nowadays guard as secrets on hidden away marketing dashboards. You could see how many submissions, comments, forum posts etc were made that day. How many new deviants joined. We used to have a mood system and that page showed the day's mood stats. And totals! Total deviant count, total of submissions, really anything important that could be counted. Amount of days DA has existed. It was all there.
I mean really, you could go to that one single page and see the living breathing active community happening almost all at once in front of your eyes.
DA's layout used to be optimized for glorious revolutionary 1024x768 imperial pixels of screen resolution. That's more than 10 times less than 4K resolution.
There were times when posting any sort of content was a gamble. Would the gods accept your submission or would it be lost the void for all of eternity? You had to be brave and patient. You even had to format your text manually with ancient hypertext markup language code tags.
Before the great test shortage, comment signatures could be up to 5 metric metres long and could weigh up to... wait, they didn't weigh anything. They just bogged down our 56K dial-up modulator–demodulators.
You kids are so spoiled today. Back then, in the pioneering times of popularizing digital art, artists used utterly shit computers to create their works. Masterpieces were done on machines that were worse than the cheapest modern smartphone. We had to illegally download RAM back then, and 3d acceleration PCI cards were the size of wood-paneled station wagons, just to get an extra 25Mhz and 16mb dedicated to graphics computation tasks.
Gosh darn, the third dimension was barely discovered.
Beyond the ancient stronghold rose the grim black wall of... wait, that's a different tale.
It was the Wild West. Copyright lawlessness ruled the day. Gangs of ruthless art rippers would simply steal images, make a tiny edit, and claim it as their very own original work of art. Well, that still happens, but The Law has taken hold.
I met my cutiebooty here.
I've made true friends here. Some have vanished, some have not, because they're in my basement.
DA relied on remote work before most people could even grasp the concept of working on the internet from home and get paid real money for it. Every DA staffer used to be considered a "mod", because that's the only concept many people knew of someone working on the internet was forum moderators. CEO? Mod. Sysadmin? Mod. Steve from Accounting? Mod. Forum moderator? Mod. Crazy.
I mean, I was one of those not in the know. When I was asked if I wanna join the staff, I thought it would be some unpaid volunteer service fun. I was so wrong, and my soon to be owned golden Ferrari felt so right.
True characters used to work and rule this land. Some still do. I used to, too.
A yellow alien and a ninja are historically the most noteworthy. There are tales of a mysterious man whose legal name - I seriously shit you not - is Spot. Once, a scary clown was the mayor of D-Town. There was a frog-lady. Of course we had a cat lady. Everybody has a cat lady, but we had the very sweetest. A rare mystical Scottish minx also held this role. We still have Wonder Woman, because she's Wonder Woman. And the aforementioned ninja of course. Ninjas never fade. Many a scroll of code has been written by an eclectic Irishman who was known by many names. A pokemon to this day is at your service. A Serbian bit is ever-present in DA's code. Was there a purple vampire? You bet your sweet neck there was. If you haven't of the nomadic fartprincess, I pity you. A doll with a gun? You bet. A starving artist used to painstakingly hand craft each and every pixel on this website. His face is permanently blocky. We were briefly aided by Jeff Chokem, cousin of Duke Nukem. Troll And Son boosted ye olde Prints business into the 21st century. A very bearded Canadian used to do expert detective work on suspected and often uncovered fraudsters. My glob was he bearded. His beard preceded him. Also, beard.
Look, I wasn't here since day 1 so I'm forgetting many old-skool and pre-school legends here, and my memory is shit anyway, and I didn't like every single person either, so there.
But yeah, scrolling uphill both ways.
Get on my lawn, and then get off my damn lawn. Actually, mow my lawn, then get off of it for good.
TL;DR - Thank you DA for 15 very interesting years.