The first Broadway (or even theatrical) internet based service launched the night before the Tony Awards in 1989 on June 3 as a dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) called ShowCall which was conceived and managed by Toby, working closely with the support of Susan Lee (a the time Director of Marketing) for the League of American Theatres & Producers (now the Broadway League), and with Price Berkley, the owner/creator of the Theatrical Index newsletter (at the time the best source for Broadway information) in conjunction with technology provider FutureTron who donated a bank of modems with access to 1-800 numbers to allow no cost dial-up to the theatre industry members. It essentially allowed producers, stage, company and general managers to access daily information on road tour schedules, facility information (including Stage Specs), listings of Broadway personnel/contacts, plus a tiny bit of industry news.
It wasn’t that long ago. During the 1980s and early 1990s, one of the most common ways that we connected “online” was to use a dial-up BBS. A modem on your computer would dial over an old-style analogue phone line (aka “a land line”), to connect to another computer. The idea of having only a handful of people (or even just 1 person) able to connect to my ShowCall server at a time is somewhat preposterous nowadays. Yet that’s the way it was back then. Speeds were limited on a per-connection basis typically to a 14.4k modem (about 30 seconds to download a page of text with no images).
ShowCall evolved into the WorldWide Entertainment Network (WEN) in late 1992 to officially launch in April 1993 with the advent of the world wide web, shortly after the release of the first web browser, Mosaic, under “Fleethouse.com/ShowCall” and “Fleethouse.com/WEN” URL’s. It showcased currently running shows in NY and major tours, news clips and had theatre information for industry touring staff an early version of what would become ‘Stage Specs‘.