A Brief History of Wild Blue Pixel

(The TMI Version)

I always wanted to be both an artist and a scientist. When I was little, I wanted to be a cartoonist, I was spellbound by questions about the physical universe, my favorite toys were puzzles and I bothered everyone with my questions.

One of my first achievements in life was my lovingly crafted model of the Uranium atom, composed of a multitude of clay balls, rolled and painted with painstaking precision. Stiff wires radiating from a massive nucleus held aloft 92 quivering electrons, bearing irrefutable witness to the magnificent glory of Uranium — and winning me first prize in the Wynnewood Road School Science Fair.

In seventh grade, my kindred spirit pal Steve and I created all the posters for our church dance canteens, featuring swirling geometric psychedelic designs. Over the heady scent of Magic Markers, we pondered such questions as: Why do objects appear smaller when they are more distant from one’s eyes? Do you and I see the same color even though we may both call it hot pink? What’s outside the universe? (The most hackneyed of the big questions, and yet – perpetually compelling.)

I loved writing from an early age. In 5th grade I co-authored a novel with my partner in mischief, Martha: The Red Hot Mud Monsters. Alas, the manuscript was tragically lost in one of my mom’s infamous cleaning frenzies. As a teenager, I bonded with my guitar and discovered songwriting. In my first bout of college in the late 70’s, I majored in English, immersing myself in the works of literary geniuses across the ages, aspiring to develop my own creative writing.  I finally conceded to the less ideal reality that I would have a much better — ahem, ANY — chance of paying my bills doing technical writing. Through the 80’s, I worked for software developers,  dutifully churning out dry-as-dust instruction manuals. I did make an attempt to convince production-obsessed supervisors that even just a sprinkling of graphic elements would liven up those deadening seas of text – to no avail.

One cloudy day in 1989, back when the Web was just a twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee‘s eye, on my early morning train ride to work in Center City Philadelphia, I was reading documentation describing the Hypercard, which had come with my brand new Apple Macintosh. I came across an extremely intriguing term: the hyperlink. In a lightning bolt, I envisioned documentation freed from the drudgery of numbered hard copy pages, indexes and tables of contents. Such a manual would be viewable on a computer, and hyperlinked words or phrases would take the reader to supplementary information elsewhere in the manual (and beyond? ? ?). When I got to work, I raced in to my boss’ office to share this blazing epiphany. She mulled for a moment, then said, “Neat idea, Susan, but a little far-fetched for our needs.”

When I moved to Arizona in the early 90’s, I grabbed the opportunity for a tectonic shift and launched a freelance graphic design business using the very first and very primordial CorelDraw. Increased reliance on my IBM AT motivated a community college class in how to maintain a PC. When the smoke cleared, I also had a bachelor’s in Applied Math and a master’s in Geography/Remote Sensing. In my 2004 master’s thesis, I explored satellite imagery using MatLab to develop early detection algorithms applied to wildfire vulnerability in Sky Islands in southeastern Arizona. In 2006, I created a website to publish my thesis.

Oops, jumping ahead of myself…

Thanksgiving Day 2005: a friend had a mild crisis with her website and begged me for help. At that point in time, I knew nothing about and had zero experience with the backend of websites. But she was beside herself and persistent. I finally conceded and sat down to awkwardly follow step-by-step instructions to FTP into a remote server…

Not only did I miss the dinner I was supposed to go to that evening, but I lost a couple weeks of time altogether, so taken was I with this mind-blowing technology that marries both sides of the brain.

In April 2007, Wild Blue Pixel was born!

Between April 2007 and May 2023, Wild Blue Pixel thrived in designing, building as well as maintaining websites. But as of June 2023, I will no longer be creating new sites – I am now only offering TLC services for existing websites.

Susan Taunton
Last edited June 2023