Stray Pixels

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Android archeology: Android.com 2000-2008

Do you know there’s a hidden history of Android out there, buried under Android.com?

A casual stroll through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine revealed a treasure trove of Android memorabilia. Like the little-known fact that Android.com, at first, had nothing to do with Android’s creator and that sheep and ants might have some things in common.

March 2, 2000 - $75,000

As you can see, Android.com had humble origins. Nothing but an expensive, parked domain, it would take a couple of years before someone found a use for it.

June 4, 2002 - Sneaky

This cryptic message seems to suggest that Android is about to take over the world. Unfortunately, it would be a few years before the OS saw daylight.

At the time Palm and Microsoft licensees were battling for supremacy in the Age of PDAs — Palm with it’s supremely accessible Palm OS and everyone else with high-powered Pocket PCs. It was a very similar fight to Apple (ease of use, design) versus Android (flexibility, openness).

The excitement was real — imagine having 64 MB of memory in the palm of your hand? — but the technology wasn’t quite there yet. No fast cellular networks meant owners had no way to access the Internet on the go and screens, while in color now, were extremely low-res making reading a pixelated mess.

Sept. 24, 2003 - At the movies

A production company was now the owner of Android.com. It sounds like they were into the whole DV revolution — or maybe the nascent independent film movement brought forth by Miramax and other boutique studios. Anyway, they were based in NYC and had nothing to do with technology. I wonder where they are now?

April 10, 2004 - Under new direction


Andy Rubin takes over after the production company. It looks like he started using Android.com as a personal web site.

If you hover over the first hyperlink, “work,” it will take you to Danger’s homepage, where Andy was the CEO for period of time. Danger’s HipTop (later renamed Sidekick) was a huge hit with teens and a veritable pioneer. Sidekicks would eventually become mini-smartphones with amazing functionality, hinting at Andy’s true calling.

May 4, 2004 - Not the Droid you’re looking for

Now THIS is a thing of beauty. I don’t remember seeing this image anywhere on the web. It could be Andy’s way of revealing Android to the world — maybe the company was in stealth mode by then. Nonetheless, can you picture Android taking off with this mascot? I can’t either.

[image credit: kalleh]

The site then goes back to the same layout from 04/10/2004. The pattern repeats a few times, until…

June 8, 2004 - Lazy ant

The Android head is back. If you click on it, you’ll see this:

Who, do we dare ask, are the ants?

[comic credit: dbort]

April 11, 2005 - Google Maps of Mystery

The infamous maps. I can only guess the Palo Alto location means  Danger (and later on, Android); Seattle means T-Mobile and Boston is related to Android’s co-founder Rich Miner.

04-17-11 update:

Reader Michael Martin solved the Boston mystery: Rich Miner.

04-19-11 update:

Reader Casey Rain explains: “Danger’s HQ was in Palo Alto, not Seattle. However, Danger partnered with T-Mobile in the US for the Hiptop/Sidekick range and T-Mobile are based in Bellevue, WA, just 10 miles or so out from Seattle. So it could possibly refer to that.”

Dec. 10, 2005 — Robot.net

The maps are gone, replaced by the usual minimalistic design. However, if you click on the “Work” hyperlink, you’ll see THIS instead:

Andy seems to be having fun with the press — and maybe people like you and me. This is all about guessing where he will work next, since by now he has “officially” been away from Danger for a long time.

Google bought Android in July 2005. Why did Andy have a question mark in place of his current job?

Another thing I don’t get is the robot.net reference.

April 10, 2008 - OHA

Android.com now leads straight to http://www.openhandsetalliance.com

Oct. 18, 2007 was the last time Andy Rubin used Android.com as a personal page. It’s a straight jump to April 10, 2008 when Google is starting to assemble the Alliance to fight against the Galactic Empire… Oops, wrong movie.

Oct. 14, 2008 — Robot dreams

The robot we all know and love finally makes his appearance. T-Mobile’s G1 would be launched soon (Oct. 22) and developers were already furiously working on submissions for the Android Developer Challenge.

I’m sure most of you know much more than me. Contributions will credited (if you’re interested in that sort of thing) and very much appreciated.

And if you learned anything from this post, please help me share it with the Tweeters and Friendfaces of the world :)

Filed under Android history Andy Rubin Internet Archive site Google 2000 2008

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