Philip had done his homework, though, and had chosen Naviserver as our web server platform. Naviserver was the brainchild of Jim and Doug, two amazing hackers who immediately understood how to build server-side web technology:
Philip continued to push AOLserver, eventually dropping Illustra by hiring Cotton Seed, another hard-core hacker, to write an Oracle driver. Oracle brought a whole new level of scalability and reliability to the thousands of lines of Tcl code already written. At that time, in early 1998, Philip officially created ArsDigita, LLC, in order to push the consulting work he was already doing. He brought on 6 people (Philip, Olin, Cotton, Terence, Ulla, and myself) to carry the initial ArsDigita flag (although I had almost nothing to do with the setup of ArsDigita to begin with).
Philip brought on Jin Choi, one of the only people I know who deserves the title of "monster hacker." Together they went ahead and built entirely new services based on AOLserver/Oracle. The most famous of these was, of course, scorecard.org, an amazing site that anyone claiming to understand web scalability should take a look at (30 db-backed hits/second on Earth day running on one Sun Ultra 2).
Soon enough, the ACS was real. The first release was posted on December 8th, 1998, after a huge packaging, debugging, and integration effort led by Philip. The ACS became the backbone of all ArsDigita projects, and many hackers around the world started using it.
With the rise of open-source software and the realization that good software can still be free, many people started wondering if the ACS could be made to run on some RDBMS other than Oracle. An Interbase port of the ACS v2.1 was created, but Interbase still cost money at the time (although it should be open-source and free by end of 2000). Many cheered for MySQL, but the lack of transaction and subselects makes it unacceptable for a true ACS (or for any critical system, for that matter).
The initial name of the project, ACS/pg, was changed to OpenACS as the group realized that there was a need to push porting to possibly other databases than PostgreSQL (Interbase?). OpenACS further represents the importance of a fully open-sourced system that truly works in symbiosis with the Open-Source community.
Philip and his team have done a tremendous job creating the processes and data model necessary to build scalable, reliable online communities. OpenACS hopes to bring this tremendous contribution to the world of fully open-sourced systems, available to anyone interested in building their own online community.