May 21-25, 1998: Sinbad’s Soul Music Festival Part IV
Progressing into 1998, as Sinbad made preparations for his Soul Music Festival: Part IV from Aruba, he was determined to make the festival the first live online event from that island.
Scheduled to air on HBO, the technology sponsor for the festival was Microsoft, who wanted to demonstrate their new software called NetShow. Lee Roth was in the first class of 130 web developers at the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington to be certified to operate the software. Today, NetShow is known as Windows Media.
Outside the Mainland United States, heavily entrenched in the days of dial-up technology, broadband communications via ISDN cables were just beginning to roll out in Aruba. With NetShow, it was possible to stream live audio and video provided both channels of 64Kbps ISDN were available for a total bandwidth capacity of 128Kbps.
Unfortunately, when talking with the phone company in Aruba at the time, to them, the term broadband meant anything faster than the traditional 28.8K dial-up speeds most users were accustomed to. So for months leading up to the event, they kept saying no problem. Upon arrival at the stadium where the concerts were to be held in just a few days, Roth was handed a 33.6Kbps phone line amid so many happy smiles from the telecommunications technicians.
Immediately recognizing that live streaming audio and video were not going to be possible, Sinbad and Roth devised an alternate plan to use one of the very first consumer digital cameras, a Sony Mavica, which took photos measuring 640×480 pixels at 72dpi and stored them on a floppy disk. Remember those?!
With the 33.6 “fast” connection we had from the Web Shack backstage, it was possible to take a few photos of a performance, run backstage, quickly edit the photos in Photoshop, post them online and jump into the chat rooms. We were live!
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