Was it the first website of a Norwegian insurance company?

Many years ago, a Norwegian insurance company called at that time Uni Storebrand, gave the chance to the young and fresh graduate that I was to work as a trainee. The internship was to take place in Oslo. I had never been to Norway before so it was very exciting to have such a great opportunity! Discovering new cultures and working abroad was my dream.

Picture: A wonderful traineeship in a very supportive team, the marketing team of Uni Storebrand, 1995. It was not my idea to sit on the table. 🙂

So, as the date of the beginning of the internship drew closer, I flew to Oslo to get ready for what would be one of my most interesting internships. I had studied business and IT was my passion (together with learning languages of course). The person in charge of internships considered that I would be a good fit for the marketing team.

My boss was a friendly Norwegian woman. She was leading the marketing team in a professional and very human way. Trust was the key. I liked her management style very much. She gave me the task of finding an interesting way to introduce Uni Storebrand’s products to potential leads. Creating another flyer was an option, but she was very open to new ideas and would be supportive of doing something more innovative for clients.
After a few discussions and drafts, we developed the idea of preparing some 3.5″ floppy disks with some information about Storebrand’s insurance products. It would be different from all these flyers that people got and it would actually help recipients get more useful information and maybe even calculate premiums. Wow! 🙂 (mind you, this was 1995…)

As I worked on my assignment with enthusiasm fueled by the support from the marketing team, I remembered something that my friend Greg A., a doctor from Florida, had showed me a few years earlier when I was on holiday at their place. It was a network of networks that he used to share information with fellow medical specialists, digitally. There was no need to send disks around! It was better for the environment and faster. I did not know much more than this, but I got the green light to look into how to replace these 3.5″ disks by a solution based on that network of networks. In any case, I was an intern and we could try a few things.

That network of networks was called the Internet. It was a world with then-strange concepts such as websites, HTML, web servers, hosting, hyperlinks. At that time, there were 23,500 websites (see http://www.internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites). The year before, in 1994, there were 2,738 websites, 130 websites in 1993 and 1 in August 1991. As I am writing this text, the statistics on that webpage show 1,902,821,963, with several new websites being added every single second.

It was not clear to me how all these concepts and technologies worked together but a telecommunication company I visited assured me they could host a website. They didn’t have more information than this. Now, I had to see how to create one. Luckily, someone had written a book about this intriguing HTML. So I started studying it and created my first webpage! It was actually quite simple, once you knew… as you can imagine, it had an amazing design: something like “Hello World” in black over a white background… Wait, there was also a picture and even a hyperlink! Hehe…

Thanks to my colleagues, we soon had the content about each of the products, in Norwegian. Then, I was very excited to create my first “official” default.html page, i.e. the main page. It contained 10 bullet points, with each of them linking to another page. Last but really not least, we finally managed to upload it on a webserver, and there we were, Uni Storebrand’s first website was born!