TahoeHighSierra.com started out in the mid-90s in a cabin on the Truckee River meadow on the edge of the forest...
...just outside the town of South Lake Tahoe, where your hosts Tom and Mary Kay Aufrance of Aufrance Associates did business in their loft with a high speed phone connection, several Web servers and a batch of phone lines to provide full Internet services, including local dial-in acounts and email as well as Web sites. It was quite a sight to see the enormous bundle of phone wires that was strung from the phone pole to our rustic remote chalet in those days!
"We couldn't start our business in a garage, because we didn't have a garage!" laughs Mary Kay. "And, every Spring when the snow melted, the T-1 line would get flooded in a manhole out on Pioneer Trail, until the phone company got out there to dry it out," adds Tom.
The banner on top of every page on the site, with a rainbow shining in front of the ridge up to Mt. Tallac, was taken from a photo that Mary Kay snapped from the deck of the cabin. She took the photo at 6:30AM one morning with an old 70's era pre-digital Minolta SLR camera and digitized it for the Web site by using a big old flat-bed scanner hooked up to a Mac Quadra 650. Those were the early days of the Internet.
With that beautiful view of the meadow, mountains and wildlife, plus an appreciation for outdoor activities, the Aufrances embarked on several Internet ventures.
Back then, the name was HighSierra, which we changed to TahoeHighSierra.com many years later.
"We used HighSierra.com to test and promote our software for web servers, and we financed our startup by using our own software to build websites for local businesses. In our first year, we wrote a ton of code and produced seven software products! We called it all Software for Internet, and sold it worldwide. Then, pretty soon we could afford to build a garage!" says Mary Kay with a laugh.
From the loft of their Tahoe cabin to the world, the Aufrances' web site became the first web site in the entire world with useful business applications, such as a complete multiple listing service for real estate professionals!
Talk about disruptive technology! "We thought real estate was a great application that cried out for automation on the Internet," says Tom, "Then, we branched out from that starting point." The Aufrances used their own local web site as the beta site for a suite of business software products for Web servers. Their Real Estate Internet™ became the world wide web' first Multiple Listing Service (MLS). REI is still in use on TahoeHighSierra.com as well as other web sites worldwide. Today, the TahoeHighSierra.com real estate and lodging search has grown to include all listings from the local realty boards as well as additional hotel and motel properties, making it unique and very popular among Lake Tahoe visitors and residents.
Back to those early days of the Web - instead of going big time and seeking out venture capital to ride the Internet boom roller coaster - Tom and Mary Kay were happy to invest their business efforts into developing software services and a business that they could run as their own small and independent sole proprietorship. Today, they still enjoy the benefits of running things on their own, and TahoeHighSierra.com is full of search engines and wizards and other spiffy features that they created together. And, the Aufrances still enjoy life in the Sierra Nevadas when ever possible, "as well as any place where we can find great skiing!"
Although we have grown out of the little loft with skylights where we viewed many a starry Tahoe night while developing Web sites and software, we still enjoy getting out there to hike, run or bike the trails, ski in the Winter and more. We have many customers who, like us, started on the Web in the mid-90s and are still with us! We're grateful for the business relationships and friends that TahoeHighSierra.com has prospered! Thank you for using TahoeHighSierra.com.
Your Web hosts,
Tom and Mary Kay