History of Second Life

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Stuff to do: This page's focus is about canonical events involving Linden Lab and is being curated by Torley. Please expand sections, update stale references, and provide sources to substantiate events as-needed.


The beginning of Second Life

Second Life (SL) evolved as an idea by founder and former Linden Lab CEO, Philip Rosedale (aka Philip Linden). He envisioned a vast green, continuous landscape, distributed across multiple servers — and went on to build it. While dreaming of virtual worlds since his childhood, Rosedale first thought of connecting computers via the Internet and creating a virtual world in 1994. In 1999, he founded Linden Lab (LL). Andrew Linden stated that Linden Lab was started as a hardware company geared towards the research and development of haptics. Although work was underway on a prototype called "The Rig, haptics were subsequently abandoned due to heavy patent concentration. The Linden Lab employees — "Lindens" for short — needed a virtual world to go with their hardware, so in 2001 they started building what became LindenWorld and, later, Second Life: the 3D virtual world with user generated content, where users could interact with each other in realtime.

In this early state, Linden World wasn't open to the public, was very gun-focused (like a shooter game) and its avatars were made out of prims (called Primitars). This video shows how the world looked back then and how users could interact with it.[1]

LindenWorld was renamed into Second Life.

"Originally, during the Alpha period, the grid was known as Lindenworld. As we were getting ready to launch the Beta, we decided we needed a name that would convey the expansiveness, involvement and complexity we hoped would characterize this world as it grew. We started by debating the merits of a 'place' name versus a 'descriptive' name. We believed a place name would give people a sense of destination, and possibly some added layer of meaning. And we thought a descriptive name would help people understand this new concept of a shared, 3D collaborative space."

"We had a lot of ideas for place names --- one of my favorites was Sansara, which was not only euphonic, but had an interesting meaning in the original Sanskrit, meaning roughly 'ever changing world'. Ultimately, though, we chose to go with a descriptive name, and looked at many derivatives of Terra, Viva, and life. We kept coming back to Life2, and then landed on Second Life as more interesting, more evocative and more what we hoped the world could become as it evolved and grew to be as big as life."

"And that's how it came about!"

-Robin Linden, former VP of Marketing and Community Development[2]

2002

On March 13, the first Resident, Steller Sunshine, joined Second Life and the public beta started seven months later in October. The grid consisted of 16 regions, the first one being called Da Boom, which might be a reference to the Big Bang of this virtual world. Da Boom, as well as the other early region additions were all named after alleyways in San Francisco. This was a nod to Linden Lab's original location on Linden Street. The original San francisco regions, from November of 2002, included Clara, Clyde, Da Boom, Federal, Freelon, Hawthorne, Minna, Natoma, Ritch, Shipley, Stanford, Stillman, Taber, Varney, Welsh, and Zoe.

Agni 2002-11-21.jpg

2003

While population and land slowly grew, Linden Lab released Second Life in June 2003. As shocking as it may seem in hindsight, back then, SL had neither a currency nor were Residents able to teleport. It was in the end of 2003 when the Linden Dollar was introduced, and the LindeX currency exchange followed about two years later.[3]

In order to restrict simulator usage, a tax system was introduced which required every Resident to pay a weekly fee, depending on the prims they had rezzed inworld. This system was easy to trick by packing all prims into the inventory on payment due day, then re-rezzing them again a day later.[4]

The first Second Life trailer was shown in 2003:

The first Linden official blog post was made on October 4th, 2004 on the Official Second Life Blog.

The first Telehubs were introduced in Version 1.1.0, with the feature of paying to teleport from one Telehub to another.

While in the beginning, Second Life's business model was primarily based on paid memberships (which later evolved into Premium and Basic accounts), the focus soon shifted to land sales. Residents became able to acquire and rent land, which in turn also became a business model for some entrepreneurial Residents.

2005

On February 13th, Linden Lab offered "amnesty" for underaged Residents, in case they'd want to be beta testers for the new Teen Second Life (TSL) service. Before this time, Second Life was only open for Residents 18 years and older; being 17 or younger resulted in a ban. The Residents were transferred to TSL, also known as the "Teen Grid" (TG), which was exclusively for teens — with the exception of approved adults like school teachers — and no communication with the Main Grid (MG) was possible. The Teen Grid was only open during Linden-desginated staffing hours. Also, during the first few months of TG Beta, access was restricted to those that were given an invite by an existing Resident or Linden Lab. Teens counted down to 1000 Residents on December 21, 2005. See "Teen Second Life" below for what happened in subsequent years.

In late 2005, Linden Lab removed most Telehubs on the grid, opening the way for "direct teleport" from one point to another. Previously, after teleporting, Residents had to fly from a Telehub to their specific destination. The Telehubs were mostly converted into Infohubs, meant to be community gathering spaces and "welcome areas" for new Residents.

2006

On May 1st, Resident Anshe Chung was featured on the cover of the U.S. magazine BusinessWorld, reported to be the first person becoming an Real Life (RL) millionaire due to Second Life business. This story brought great media coverage and pitched the population growth further.

On October 18th at precisely 8:05:45 PST, the 1,000,000th Resident joined Second Life. A special Linden Bear was created to celebrate this milestone.

1000000 Residents.png

2007

The client was open-sourced in January[5], and Residents were asked to take part in the Architecture Working Group (AWG), influence its development. The AWG had its first meeting on September 13th, 2007.

On April 13th, Linden Lab announced the eventual removal of the profile rating system[6], which was used for social reputation but also prone to being abused and misunderstood.

On May 21st, WindLight atmospheric rendering was announced[7] and became part of the main release in Viewer version 1.19.1 on April 2nd.[8] WindLight improved Second Life's graphics dramatically.

2008

On February 22, Blue Linden announced that there would be a new set of city-style themed regions named Bay City. Bay City opened for viewing on May 8th, 2008, and on May 24th, 2009, Bay City content was released to Residents as templates for their own creations.

Philip Rosedale announced his stepping down as CEO in mid-March[9], and introduced new CEO Mark D. Kingdon (M Linden) one month later.[10]. Philip continued to serve as Chairman on the Board of Directors.[9]

The first cross-grid teleport was achieved on July 8th[11], and shortly after on July 31st, the Open Grid Public Beta began.[12]

Scripting performance enhancer Mono was launched in August, as part of the 1.24 Server deploy[13]

2009

On January 20th, Linden Lab announced that it acquired the SL online marketplaces OnRez and XStreet SL (formerly SL Exchange) in order to merge and integrate them into a web shopping service for virtual goods that would become the Second Life Marketplace.[14]

In March, Linden Lab started a project to create Zindra, a new continent specifically designed for Adult content. Changes to Maturity ratings policies went live on September 15, and Zindra came online in October 2009.

In August, former VP of Product Tom Hale (T Linden) gave a tour of the new Second Life 2.0 Viewer due to be launched in 2010. Earlier in June 2009, Massively posted a sneak preview.

2010

On January 29th, Linden Lab acquired Avatars United. Avatars United was a social network for users of multiple virtual worlds to connect.

On February 9th, Linden Lab launched the new Second Life Forums[15]. The Second Life Forums were transitioned to Jive Clearspace software, and the old vBulletin-based forums were archived.

On February 23rd, Linden Lab announced the new Second Life Viewer 2.0 Public Beta. Viewer 2 went out of beta and was launched as the main Viewer on March 31st.

On June 24th, Mark Kingdon stepped down as CEO of Linden Lab. Philip Rosedale was named interim CEO, and CFO Bob Komin (BK Linden) assumed the additional role of COO.

On July 22nd, Philip Linden announced that Burning Life will be renamed to BURN 2.0 starting this year. burn2.org will be the website for news and information about this unique community event.

On September 23rd, Linden Lab has announced that Avatars United will be shut down on Wednesday 29th September 2010.

On October 13th, Jack Linden announced that Mesh Import Beta Starts Today on the preview/test grid called Aditi.

On December 23rd, BK Linden announced that Rod Humble became the new CEO of Linden Lab.

2011

On March 3rd, Linden Lab launched the new Second Life Community Platform, powered by Lithium. "The new platform integrates Blogs, Forums, Answers, and the Knowledge Base."

On March 29th, Linden Lab introduced the Basic mode in Viewer 2 to improve new Resident experience in Second Life. The previous user interface is now the "Advanced mode".

Teen Second Life

On January 1st, 2006, the TG opened 24/7.

In March 2006 Global Kids was the first educational organization to enter Teen Second Life, opening an island.

On December 24th, 2006 Eye4You Alliance Island was opened in Teen Second Life. Eye4you Alliance island closed on 12th July 2009.

As of January, 2007, Linden Lab started to host TG Office Hours in Teen Second Life.

On March 17, 2007, Blue and Philip Linden hosted a townhall meeting on GK island about past, present, and future of TSL.

During 2007 there was problems for teens registering outside of the US WEB-734 because of a server issue. After January 2009 this issue has been fixed.

On June 25th, 2008, at 2pm SLT, Torley Linden came to do a 1 hour long special TSL Q&A session with Teen Residents at TG Multimedia Stage. On July 3rd, 2008, M Linden came to the Teen Grid and hosted a TSL special speech about Second Life 5th Birthday.

In early 2009, the TSL Mentors 2.0 program was shut down by Linden Lab.

As of 2009, Teen Second Life has around 50,000 Residents and over 200-300 concurrent online Residents on average online. There are 203 Teen Grid regions, however only around 130 are open to Teens.

For Second Life 6th Birthday in 2009, SL6B Teen region from Teen Second Life was moved over to the Main Grid and was attached to the SL6B regions. The theme this year for both SL6B and TSL Teen was The Future of Virtual Worlds.

As of 2010, the Teen Grid has 93 Mainland regions, 7 resident-owned estates, and 97 educational/project estates. At any given time, there is around 2,000 teens who have been active over the last 30 days. The usual TG concurrency is about 350 residents.

In February 2010, the TSL Forums was integrated into the new Second Life Forums. Teens and Adults will now share the Forums.

On March 16th, 2010, Green Fun on the Teen Grid.

On August 14th, 2010, Philip Linden announced that the Teen Grid would be shut down.

On August 20th, 2010, Terrence Linden announced that the Teen Grid will be shut down on 31st December 2010.

On December 29th, 2010, Global Kids hosted a Youth Forum on the Teen Grid Merger inworld. Teens Express Concerns, Hopes and Plans at Forum on Second Life Teen Grid Merger.

On January 21st 2011, after 1 PM Pacific Teen Grid merged with the Main Grid. (14th February 2005 – 21st January 2011)

References

  1. The video is taken from the blog entry Historical Movie - LindenWorld August 2001
  2. The old forum post isn't available anymore and the quote is retrieved from http://secondlife.wikia.com/wiki/Linden_World
  3. See chatlog with Peter Millionsofus (formerly Lawrence Linden).
  4. See the Google video Glimpse inside a Metaverse: The virtual world Second Life
  5. Open sourcing the client in January 2007 http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/01/08/embracing-the-inevitable/
  6. Removal of Ratings in Beta, blog post no longer available — wasn't on the Wayback Machine either
  7. Windlight announcement: http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/05/21/windlight-atmospheric-rendering-comes-to-second-life/
  8. Windlight release: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/04/02/the-dawning-of-a-new-viewer-second-life-1191-now-available/
  9. 9.0 9.1 Philips announcement to step back from CEO: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/03/14/changing-my-job/
  10. M Linden announced as new CEO: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/04/22/announcing-our-new-ceo/
  11. http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/07/08/ibm-linden-lab-interoperability-announcement/
  12. http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/07/31/open-grid-public-beta-begins-today/
  13. Blog about the Mono launch: http://blog.secondlife.com/2008/08/20/mono-launch/
  14. http://blog.secondlife.com/2009/01/20/xstreet-sl-and-onrez-to-join-linden-lab/
  15. Old blog link: https://blogs.secondlife.com/community/community/blog/2010/02/09/new-forums-launched

Learn more

The above contains some highlights, and further details about Second Life's history can be found in the and categories.