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· 13 min read
Raul Jimenez Ortega
⚠️ Notices and acknowledgments

I would like to start by clarifying that:

Acknowledgments: to JJ Merelo for his contributions.

This is the second article in the series "History of Technical Communities," in which we are reviewing the history of technical communities in Spain. In this one, we will focus specifically on the era when the Internet became popular, reaching many households, and we will continue to get nostalgic with some of the innovations that were introduced.

We are in the years of:

And a year before Intel Pentium began flooding the market (1993).


On the radio, and in our Discman, songs like "Experiencia Religiosa" by Enrique Iglesias (1995), "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls (1996), "La Raja de Tu Falda" by Estopa (1999), or "Livin' la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin were playing.

Linux and LUGs

A year earlier, in 1991, the Linux operating system was created, which in 1992 adopted a GPL license. This technology not only transformed the Internet and many other things, but it was also the seed of many important communities of the time, such as the Linux user groups (LUGs). Among other things, they held “Linux install parties” to help install systems like SUSE (1992), Debian (1993), Red Hat (1993), Mandrake (1998), ... which were not easy to get working at that time.

Years later, in ~1997, the Association of Spanish Linux Users (Hispalinux) was formed in Spain, an important community whose goals can be read in their statutes. In 2024 it has more than 7,000 members.


This is the era of the early days of the Internet in Spain (1996), when Web 1.0 arrives, static pages created with HTML 2.0, practically without user systems or comments, and which we browse with browsers like Netscape or Opera.


Due to the limitations of JavaScript in 1996, there were technologies like Microsoft's ActiveX, Sun Microsystems' JavaBeans, and Macromedia Flash, which allowed for more advanced experiences.

The first Spanish Internet Service Providers like Goya (1992) and InfoVía (1995) were born, charging for Internet (per minute connected) at the price of a local phone call. Yes, because at that time, you had to pay for local calls. That's when 28.8 kbps modems, the routers of that time, were more than a thousand times slower than today's.

With these connections, we could chat and browse Web. At that time, websites almost had no images, and of course, no multimedia files, because downloading a 4 MB file could take many hours, and if you were lucky that someone didn't cut off your connection by calling your house.


Soon after, audio and video compression algorithms, or audio codecs and video codecs improved significantly, facilitating access to these files online (e.g. MP3 1993, AAC 1997, DivX 1998, MP4 2001, ...).

Also in 1992, party lines emerged, multi-conferences with strangers via telephone. Although personally, I wouldn't include this in the community initiatives.

In 1998, another community was born, the Association of Internauts, whose can be read here.

That same year, 1998, Netscape created the Mozilla organization, which led to the creation of the Mozilla Foundation in 2003.

And in 2000, the Spanish chapter of the Internet Society was founded.


Did you know that at the beginning of the Internet, it was the Internet providers themselves who usually provided us with our email accounts? Before Microsoft launched Hotmail in 1996 (now known as Outlook), or Yahoo! created Yahoo Mail in 1998, or Google inaugurated Gmail in 2004, which by the way, you could only access by invitation.

Hosting and Search Engines

When the Internet was arriving in Spain, the first web hosting providers, like GeoCities (1994), or later (1999), began offering free web hosting as well.

This greatly reduced the barrier to entry for communities that wanted to collaborate by creating and sharing tutorials, news, etc. Especially for those of us who were teenagers and couldn't afford a paid one.

It should also be noted that the first search engines did not appear until the mid-90s (e.g. Lycos ‘94, Yahoo! Search ‘95, AltaVista ‘95, Olé ‘96, Hispavista ‘96, Google ‘97…). Therefore, there were not only far fewer manuals and tutorials, but until then, it had been very difficult to find them.

As a result of some of these collaborations, older people will remember the famous Rincón del Vago (~1998), a website mainly used by students to share academic papers and notes. But to give an example of a technical community, I will leave one that I was lucky enough to be a part of, HackHispano (~1999).

IRC and Other Chats

It was also when the IRC protocol became popular, and programs like mIRC (1995) allowed us to connect to public servers like IRC-Hispano, freenode, undernet, etc. For the first time in history, it allowed real-time chatting with people from other parts of the world, I repeat, at the cost of a local call, something totally disruptive.


For the new generations; IRC is similar to Slack, Discord, etc. But where public servers gathered tens or hundreds of thousands of people, where anyone could create a "Room," and whoever arrived first automatically became an IRC operator with moderation permissions. By the way, there are still communities that continue to use IRC as a communication tool 😉.

There were many channels about #linux, #programming, #networks, ... but also #humor, #madrid, #manga, etc. However, it is true that many historic hacker communities like !Hispahack/#hispahack (~1996) also started to gather here. In this interview with Antonio Fernandes (in The Wild Project), you can hear about his beginnings in hacking at that time, and how he mentions other hacker communities/groups like Apóstols or La Vieja Guardia.


The movie Hackers released in 1995, explores the hacker and cyberpunk subcultures and shows black hat hackers involved in a corporate extortion conspiracy.

In 1996, the newsgroup es.comp.os.linux was born, dedicated to discussing the Linux operating system in Spain, and according to, one of the main initiatives of Spanish Linux hackers.


During this time, other messaging and VoIP tools like ICQ (1996), Terra chats (1999), MSN Messenger (1999), Skype (2003) also became popular in Spain. Although I wouldn't say many community communications emerged around them.


At that time, the main technological conferences in Spain were:

In the international scene, other popular conferences started:

Mailing Lists

Also at that time, communities that gathered around mailing lists increased considerably:


At that time, there were already mailing lists software like LISTSERV. In 1992, Majordomo was created as freeware, and later GNU Mailman (1999). It wasn't until 2001 that Google Groups was launched, another system that gave a strong boost to mailing lists among communities.

LAN Parties

This is the era of the first LAN parties, groups of friends who gathered at someone's house to play network games and sometimes see things we shouldn't 🤣.

Also, macro gatherings like the Euskal Party (1993) or Campus Party (1996) began, where many of us took our desktop computers, got on a bus, and traveled across Spain to spend a few days surrounded by hundreds or thousands of technology enthusiasts playing games, burning CDs, etc.


In 1994, the first CD burners arrived, causing an unprecedented increase in piracy in Spain. Years later, Napster (1999), eDonkey (2000), eMule (2002), ... and other technologies that would further boost it emerged.

A few years later, in 1998, the video game and multimedia developer community Stratos emerged.


In 1999, the program Roger Wilco appeared, software that revolutionized VoIP communications among the gaming community.


With the arrival of ISDN, which significantly improved Internet connection speeds, the first Internet cafés (~1995) began to emerge. These became other meeting points where groups of friends would gather to play, talk, and share things they had discovered on the Internet, etc., and where some “hackers” 😜 took advantage of installing keyloggers and trojan horses for somewhat illicit purposes.


Around 1999, Wi-Fi (or 802.11 protocol) became popular in Spain, which was the year the Wi-Fi Alliance registered the brand.


At the end of the millennium, in 1999, blogs, formerly also called weblogs, began to gain popularity, perhaps triggered by the launch of

In that same year, Barrapunto (1999) was born, a news website related to free software, technology, and digital rights. In 2001, it began offering a weblog system called MiBarrapunto.

A famous blog that started talking about free culture at that time was Ignacio Escolar's (~2001).

Then Blogalia (~2001/2002) was born, another weblog server in Spanish.

What I would like to comment on here is the fact that the comments on some blogs almost became community chats.


In 2003, WordPress was created, and was acquired and relaunched by Google.

End of the Era

According to the Scientific Computing Society of Spain, it is estimated that by the end of the century, a total of about 68,705 people had graduated in computing in Spain (~2450 per year).

It is also when the first Official Colleges of Computer Engineers (e.g. Murcia, Catalonia, Asturias, ...) (1998-2002) began to be formed, and when the Association of Women Researchers and Technologists (2001) emerged.


At this time, phone booths were still being used, although Internet and GSM coverage was growing rapidly. Operators like Telefónica, Airtel, Amena, ... opened the telecommunications market in Spain, and Nokia launched the popular Nokia 3310. But despite everything, SMS and voice calls still dominated communications.

It is also when we experienced the dot-com bubble burst (~2001). A year later, Amazon would start the cloud revolution by creating AWS.

International Scene

Now let's review other events that happened internationally and later had an impact on technical communities in Spain.


Around 1992, hackerspaces began to emerge, physical spaces where people interested in new technologies, electronics, digital arts, etc. met, socialized, and collaborated.

I wrote about HackSpace / HackLab / MakerSpace / Fab Lab in this page.

Other Communities

In 1993, the IBM community appears.

The same year the first version of Java was released (1995), one of the first Java Users Group (the Denver one) was formed.

Then in 2001, many things happened:


According to Wikipedia, these attacks led to the creation of in 2002, a platform that originally aimed to bring together people with common hobbies and interests, and which would later be widely used by technical communities.


I found that around 1993, Microsoft was already recognizing some developers' contributions, which could be considered the precursor to the Microsoft MVP program, and what in the future would likely lead to other programs of "champions", "ambassadors", etc.


These programs recognizing developers' contributions would be seen as highly useful by professionals to develop personal branding, a concept introduced by Tom Peters in 1997 and which would become popular in Spain a few years later.

Open Culture

Twelve years after the founding of the Free Software Foundation (in 1997), developer Bruce Perens created The Open Source Definition, and a year later co-founded the Open Source Initiative, which popularized the term "open source" and advocated for open-source software from a pragmatic and business-friendly perspective.


To date, the most iconic example of a company based on free software is Red Hat, although years later, around 2008, other (controversial) models like open-core would become popular.

Early initiatives focused on open-source hardware, such as the "Open Hardware Certification Program" and the "Open Hardware Specification Project" were also launched around that time.

In 1999, the Apache Software Foundation was created to support various open-source software projects. And one of the first websites offering free hosting for the developer community to share open-source projects, Sourceforge, was launched.

In 2000, the Open Source Development Labs was founded to promote Linux in enterprise computing, which years later (in 2007) would become the Linux Foundation.

It was also during this time (2001) that Lawrence Lessig, a lawyer and political activist, created Creative Commons, an organization dedicated to facilitating access to educational content and increasing the amount of creative works available for others to legally build upon and share.


In 2001, the documentary "Revolution OS" was released, which tells the story of Linux, open source and the free software movement.

Social Networks

We could say that the beginnings of social networks also occurred at the end of this era with the birth of:

Although out of all these, I would say the only well-known ones in Spain were MySpace and perhaps, mainly for communities around music.


In this era, we can undoubtedly say that online communities exploded, mainly with text interactions, mailing lists, and blog comments. Although voice calls (among gamers primarily) also began.

Professional associations and those around different technologies continued to be created, but now they were not necessarily local. Some new conferences emerged, but they were still not very common.

Some communities emerged around topics like Internet, Linux, hacking, game programming, women in technology, digital journalism, hardware (e.g. overclocking, open hardware, ...), etc.

Based on this information, I would say that at this time, a community was understood as: a group of people who gathered (online or in person), voluntarily and on their own initiative, sharing an interest in technology, to collaborate with each other.

And you, what do you think?

If you liked it, I will soon publish the next article in the series: “2004-2012: The emergence of modern conferences and tech meetups”

· 10 min read
Raul Jimenez Ortega
⚠️ Notices and acknowledgments

I would like to start by clarifying that:

  • I was born in 1984, so what I put in this article is mostly the result of my research and contributions received.
  • I am sure that this article has gaps and errors.
  • I am grateful for all contributions, which of course will be appreciated and will be under CC Attribution 4.0 International.

Acknowledgments: to JJ Merelo for his contributions and to SCIE because their website has been enormously helpful.

In this first article of the series "History of technical communities," we will review the history of technical communities in Spain, before the Internet, during the era when computing arrived and the revolution of personal computers began.

Previous context

Let's review some facts from the national and international context to set the stage.

United States

1975 is the year when the United States ended the Vietnam War.

IBM was already 64 years old, the giant and world leader in manufacturing computers (mainframes) used by companies, government institutions, and academia.

Another company, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), which in 1998 would be acquired by Compaq, began marketing in 1960 what they called Programmed Data Processors (PDP) around which user groups would be created.

At that time Xerox held a dominant position in the photocopier market. It was one of its printers that in 1980 would give rise to the anecdote that would eventually lead Richard Stallman to the creation of the Free Software Foundation.

Until recently, software was not perceived as a product. It was when IBM decided to unbundle it from hardware (in 1969) that the independent software vendor industry (ISVs) was born, where companies such as Microsoft would soon play a fundamental role.

By this time, some of the first user groups or communities I could find were already a few years old, such as:

  • TMRC, MIT students related to hacking culture (1946).
  • SHARE, IBM mainframe user group (1955).
  • GUIDE, an IBM systems user group (1956).
  • DECUS, the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) computer user group (1961).

In 1963, the IEEE was created, a non-profit organization that would later create standards such as Ethernet (1983), Wi-Fi (1997), etc.

By then, some notable computing conferences that brought together technical profiles had already been held, such as the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (1954) and the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (1967).

On the other hand, Intel, already 7 years old, launched the first microprocessor in 1971, the Intel 4004 (at a cost of $450, as of 2023), which would revolutionize the personal computer industry.


Now let's review some important facts related to computing in Spain before the dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975 after 36 years in power.

Up to that date, the most notable figure in the sector I have found is José García Santesmases, a physicist and pioneer of computing in Spain who was 68 years old that year. He:

It was also before Franco's death that the Association of Computing Technicians (1967) and the Institute of Computing under the Ministry of Education and Science (1969) were created.

In 1971, an order (law) was approved in Spain, and that would establish the study plans for the different degrees, which shortly afterwards would give rise to the first Faculties of Computer Science.

The Spanish transition

The same year Franco died, in the United States, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft and launched what is considered the first personal computer that was well-received by the market (in terms of performance/price ratio), the Altair 8800.

In this year (1975), the mythical Homebrew Computer Club was also founded, where Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs showed their Apple 1 in 1976, a moment “immortalized” in movies like Pirates of Silicon Valley (see sequence) or Jobs (2013).

In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple, and launched the Apple-1. The same year Bill Gates wrote his famous letter “An Open Letter to Hobbyists”.


The first film documenting the Apple-Microsoft rivalry, Pirates of Silicon Valley, was not released until 1999.

That year was when the first Computer Sciences Faculties were created in Spain at the Polytechnic Universities of Madrid and Barcelona, and the University of Valladolid (see more).

First associations

On June 15, 1977, the first democratic elections were held in Spain.

Shortly after, the Constitution of Spain (1978) was approved, which among many other things includes the right to freedom of association, which would promote the formation of many associations in Spain from which articles, manuals, and case studies would be published.

Some of these associations are:

In parallel, outside Spain, other notable groups were formed:

First online communities

Also, around this time (early 80s), the first online communities could be said to emerge, gathering around bulletin board systems (BBS), the precursors to today's forums.

Almost in parallel, Usenet emerged (~1980), another system for exchanging opinions and experiences. This is the system Richard Stallman used in 1983 to announce his plan for the GNU operating system. Two years later, in 1985, he founded the Free Software Foundation, whose philosophy would have a significant impact on the world of software and soon after on hardware, and of course around many technical communities.

Shortly after Usenet, in the year when Teletext was being experimented with in Spain and we could listen to Michael Jackson's recently released Thriller on the walkmans (1982), Telefónica began marketing Minitel, a system that could be used to access the phone book, retail shopping, access company information services, databases, forums, and messaging.

In that same year (1982), Sun Microsystems was founded, a company that would compete with DEC in the sale of servers and workstations, and where in 1991 they would start working on the project that would result in the Java language.

In 1984, FidoNet emerged, a popular network of BBS nodes that would gain traction in Spain and for the first time allow many strangers to communicate worldwide via computers over telephone lines. For example, the node "2:345/801" was the address of a board called “Atlantis” whose operator was Alfredo Sanchez, from Granada, and whose phone number was “958132748”. More information in "Traveling in time: SysOp of a BBS in 1997 and Fidonet in Spain". Here is another list of nodes from 1987, and here are other nodes from Spain.


In the national scene, most of the technical conferences and events held were more from the university sector:

And in the United States, here are some that seemed interesting to highlight:

PCs and video games

Throughout this decade (the 80s), 386 (1985) and 486 (1989) computers arrived in many Spanish homes, and video game consoles began to flood houses: Commodore 64 (1982), Nintendo NES (1983), Sega SG-1000 (1983) Amstrad CPC (1984), Amiga (1985), Atari 7800 (1986), Game Boy (1989), ... In this climate, the first meeting called the Game Developers Conference was organized in 1988, in California, with about 20 people that would grow to about 125 the following year, and today gathers nearly 28,000 people.

As can be read in the History of personal computers in Wikipedia page, by this time Texas Instruments was the largest chip manufacturer in the world, and one of the high-tech electronics companies that entered the home computer market in 1979.

The Compaq Computer Corporation founders worked there, until ~1978, when they founded Compaq and launched their first product, a portable personal computer (portable computer) inspired by Osborne 1 but compatible with IBM software, mainly oriented to professionals. If you want to know more, the documentary "Silicon Cowboys" tells the story of Compaq and its impact on the development of portable computers. You can watch the launch event here.

End of the era

Other relevant events at the end of this era:

  • RedIRIS (1988) emerged in Spain, the Interconnection Network of Computing Resources for universities and research centers.
  • Guy Kawasaki created a team of evangelists at Apple.
  • The popular Concurrent Versions System (CVS) was born (1990).
  • Also in 1990, Open Design Circuits proposed the creation of a hardware design community with the spirit of free software (more).
  • Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger introduced the concept of “Community of Practice” that accompanies us to this day and is defined as: “a group of people who share an interest, deepen their knowledge and experience in the area through continuous interaction that strengthens their relationships” (1991).

Finally, what would change society and the community ecosystem in the coming years was presented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991, the foundations of the World Wide Web.


As we have observed, during this era, computing arrived in Spain, along with the constitution and the first associations, which emerged around the scientific and university community.

  • The first computing, automation, and artificial intelligence conferences were held. At the same time, BBS and Usenet emerged, where the first more informal online communities began to form.
  • Internationally, the first user groups and computer hobbyist clubs emerged around electronics, specific company systems, hacking... along with some conferences that were mainly face-to-face.

In summary, these groups and conferences talked about: operating systems, automation, robotics, circuits, programming languages, artificial intelligence, IBM systems, Apple, video games, networks, and security.

Based on this information, I would say that when we talked about community in Spain at this time, we mainly referred to: a group of people who meet in person on their own initiative and share an interest in software, whose goal is professional development. Mainly to publish articles, manuals, and case studies.

And you, what do you think?

If you liked it, you can continue reading in the following article of the saga: "1992-2003: The rise of online communities".