Serving the Web with EMWAC

After having a glance over Internet Information Server 1.0 from installing Microsoft BackOffice 2.0, I went into the dusty corners of the web to find it’s ancestor, EMWAC HTTP Server.

No it’s not an acronym for “Every Man Wants A Corvette”, and even less likely a Citroën, but the rather dull European Microsoft Windows NT Academic Centre. Located at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, it was a research facility sponsored by the likes of Microsoft, DEC, and Sequent Computer Systems; the latter two now defunct. EMWAC HTTP Server had been used by Microsoft to originally host their website from around April 1994 up until August 1995 using three servers. In 2014 to mark the website’s 20th anniversary, the original home page was back online for around three years at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/discover/1994/ before it was taken down.

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Microsoft’s website hosted using EMWAC HTTP Server. Image source: microsoft.com

I managed without too much effort track down a source of EMWAC HTTP Server, and tested this using Windows NT 3.51 Server. This was version 0.991 which suggests this was one of the final, if not the final version of this little piece of software. System requirements were a PC running Windows NT 3.5 or later with TCP/IP software installed, and 16 MB RAM. Not only for the i386 platform, it was also available for MIPS, PowerPC, and Digital Alpha systems.

Installation was easy though there’s no sophisticated Setup program. Distributed as a ZIP file, the files were extracted and placed onto a floppy disk. From the floppy disk, three files were copied over to the Windows System32 directory, being HTTPS.CPL, HTTPS.HLP, and HTTPS.EXE. Next was a visit to the Command Prompt to install the service. Unlike an application, a service simply is a process constantly running in the background.

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Commands to check version and to install.

A new icon named HTTP Server now appears within Control Panel.

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Selecting HTTP Server brings up the following dialog box. There’s little options to choose from, but basically you set the location of the files used by your hosted website, the TCP/IP port to accept incoming connections, and if you wish to log traffic.

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Next heading over to Services in Control Panel, a new entry appears with the HTTP service yet to be started. Note that the service won’t start if the specified directory doesn’t exist (e.g. C:\HTTP), and instead a cryptic error message will appear.

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Before starting the service, I went via File Manager to create a new directory named HTTP onto the hard disk, and using Notepad tossed together a very crude webpage (HTML file). After starting the service, I then pointed Internet Explorer to the webpage and voilà it appeared!

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downloadDownload EMWAC HTTP Server 0.991 for i386

 

downloadDownload EMWAC HTTP Server 0.991 for MIPS

 

downloadDownload EMWAC HTTP Server 0.991 for PowerPC

 

downloadDownload EMWAC HTTP Server 0.991 for Alpha

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