National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Web site 10th Anniversary

Before there was Google, Hotmail, iPods or blogs, there was a home for NAMI on the Web.

NAMI launched its first site in 1996, when the Web was still in its infancy. Ten years later, the Web has become not only a mainstay of society, but also of how NAMI is achieving its mission.

Today at NAMI, more than ever, the Web is important not only as a way to provide information and support but also as a way for the thousands who visit each day to take action and make a difference in the lives of people affected by serious mental illness.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of NAMI online, we have assembled this timeline as a reminder of how far we have all come in a few short years.

1993: There are less than 150 Web sites online.

1994: The Web begins to emerge into popular usage, with the release of the Mosaic Netscape Web browser which combines graphics and text onto a single page; Yahoo! has its beginnings as “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”

1995: Traditional online dial-up systems (CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy) begin to provide Web access; eBay is first launched as “AuctionWeb”; is launched as an online bookstore.

January 1996: Google has its beginnings as a Ph.D. research project called “BackRub”.

Spring 1996: NAMI’s first Web site is launched. The site is hosted by the husband of NAMI’s database manager Barbara Hoopes, who is a Minnesota Vikings fan. The Web address is An article in the NAMI Advocate introducing the site begins by defining what the Internet is and noting “Today the Internet has more than 2 million computers connected together, and it reaches more than 40 million people in 200 countries.”

Spring 1996: NAMINet, NAMI’s Intranet for affiliates, is launched as a bulletin board system.

July 1996: Hotmail goes online.

August 1996: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer begins to be widely used with the release of version 3. By 1999, it will become the most popular Web browser software.

January 1997: NAMI begins sending policy updates via e-mail to its first subscription-based e-mail list, E-News.

Homepage History
click to enlarge*

 NAMI Home page, summer 1997
Summer 1997

NAMI homepage, Fall 1998
Fall 1998

NAMI home page, Summer 2000
Summer 2000

NAMI homepage, Fall 2001
Fall 2001

NAMI homepage, Summer 2003
Summer 2003

NAMI home page, Summer 2006
Summer 2006

*note: once the larger file loads, you may need to click on it to view it full-size

Spring 1997: NAMINet is converted from a bulletin board system to a Web site, greatly expanding its accessibility across the organization.

September 1997: is launched.

December 1997: HomePC magazine selects NAMI’s Web site as one of the “Best of the Web” in the “Health and Fitness” category of their annual year-end review. Notes HomePC: “Detailed articles, timely updates on legal and medical issues, book reviews, links to local alliance chapters and an online referral service make this the Web’s leading source of information about mental illness.”

July 1998: NAMI StigmaBusters launches its e-mail network at the NAMI Convention; 650 people sign up.

Summer 2000: NAMI’s Mental Illness Awareness Week materials are placed online for the first time rather than being mailed to state and affiliate offices.

October 2001: Apple introduces the iPod.

January 2001: NAMI unveils a new design for its Web site; E-News has over 12,000 subscribers.

March 2002: With the assistance of Don Lamm of Alamo Web Pros , NAMI involves nearly every member of the national staff to begin shaping a new Web site.

July 2002: Active Matter, a company that provides software solutions for not-for-profit organizations, is selected to design and develop the new site.

September 2002: There are an estimated 605 million people online worldwide.

April 2003: New NAMI Web site launches internally to the national office for beta testing.

June 23, 2003: New NAMI Web site launches publicly.

June 28 - July 1, 2003: New NAMI Web site is demonstrated at the National Convention in Minneapolis, June 28 - July 1. Day-by-day coverage and photos of the convention are available online.

October 2003: NAMI microsite program is launched to enable states and affiliates to easily set up and maintain their own Web sites through NAMI National.

May 2004: New NAMI Web site feature developed internally allows NAMIWALKS participants to fundraise online. By the end of the year, 844 walkers sign up across 34 walks, raising $81,000 online.

July 2004: In its first full year, the new NAMI site is visited 3.75 million times. 36,000 users register for sign-in accounts.

November 2004: NAMI hosts its first Online Auction; E-News and StigmaBuster groups have over 15,000 subscribers each.

December 2004: A new pilot program is launched allowing site visitors to join NAMI online. By the end of 2005, eight states are participating, attracting 581 new NAMI members online.

April 2005: New NAMI Web site features allow NAMIWALKS participants to register online and create their own personal and team Web pages for online fundraising. By the end of the year, 6,237 walkers and 1,416 teams register online across 47 walks, raising $486,000 online.

May 2005: The NAMI Connection is launched as NAMI's first general interest e-mail newsletter. NAMI's other e-mail newsletters are now all available in HTML format.

June 2005: The NAMI National Convention is held in Austin, TX. The majority of people who pre-register do so online for the first time.

June 25, 2005: After two years online, the 50,000th message is posted in the NAMI Web site's online discussion groups.

July 2005: In its second full year, the current NAMI site is visited 4.67 million times. 38,000 users register for sign-in accounts.

September 2005: Statehouse Spotlight, a new e-newsletter devoted to state-level public policy, is launched.

Fall 2005: Over $40,000 is raised online at the NAMI Web site for a relief fund for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with mental illness.

December 2005:   There are an estimated 74 million Web sites online; it is estimated that during 2005 the one-billionth Web user went online. NAMI crosses the $5,000 mark in proceeds received through the associates program.

February 2006:   A Harris Interactive poll finds that 77% of U.S. adults are now online. Among those under age 30, the percentage is thought to be closer to 90%.

March 1, 2006: NAMI releases Grading the States 2006 report. The NAMI Web site experiences its single busiest day ever with 21,000 unique visitors.

March 2006: The 50,000th advocacy letter to an elected official is generated from NAMI's online advocacy tool.

April 2006: The 25,000th copy of Parents and Teachers as Allies is purchased from the NAMI Online Store; the 50,000th "send this page to a friend" e-mail is sent from the NAMI Web site; the 10,000th Web site visitor signs up for myNAMI e-mail updates; the 100th NAMI state/affiliate microsite is established.

May 2006: NAMI National assumes responsibility for the FaithNet Web site and e-newsletter; that month, the FaithNet home page becomes one of the top 10 most requested pages on the NAMI Web site.

June 2006: NAMIWALKS breaks record for all of 2005 in just six months, as 8,278 walkers register online across 55 walks, raising $521,000 online and counting.

July 2006: The verb "google" is added to the dictionary and defined as "to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet."; 23 percent of visits to the NAMI Web site are referred by Google.

July 2006: In its third full year, the current NAMI site is visited 5.8 million times, a 54 percent increase over its first year. 54,000 new users register for sign-in accounts; over 71,000 total users are signed-up to receive e-mail communication from NAMI across 10 different lists; new pages are being added to the site at an average of 100 per month by 20 staff members across 12 departments and programs.

October 2006: There are an estimated 100 million different Web sites online. NAMI activates its 150th microsite.

Help keep NAMI's Web site -- and all of NAMI's programs and services -- growing strong. Join the thousands who have put their dollars to work right away by making a  secure online donation  to NAMI.