History: The Road To Bay City Part 1: The Rig

Part I: The Rig

Bay City did not appear out of nowhere, and the roots behind the formation of our little corner of the mainland run deep into the core of Second Life itself. In this series, I want to give you some of the history behind the city by the bay, and the predecessors that led to its existence.

Linden Lab -- really called Linden Research, Inc. -- didn't initially set out to be a company known for virtual worlds. Initially they were busy studying haptics, or methods of providing physical feedback to people using virtual objects.

To learn more about such, this fledgling company then located on Linden Street in San Francisco, created "The Rig," a virtual space that could be navigated around in. Thing is, the virtual space contained in the rig was actually kind of fun.

Before too long, the rig -- and more importantly, the software on it -- started to take further form, eventually morphing into a virtual world of its own. This initial prototype was known as LindenWorld.

LindenWorld had a lot of similarities to what we know now as Second Life, as well as many unusual differences. Terraforming was not the simple tools of today, but was done using actual grenades to blow up parts of the land. An ecosystem existed of rudimentary birds and snake-like "Ators" that roamed the land, reproducing and eating. Avatars were also simple, created out of primitive shapes.

As things developed, it begun to look more like the world we know today. While the ators and birds faded into history, the world started to form. Those early "Primitars" were swapped out for a simple avatar mesh that still lives under the bodies of today. We gained better building and terrain forming tools even as we lost the reactive water of those early days.

Meanwhile, in the heart of LindenWorld was a city, which sat in what is now the Natoma region.
Linden City
Learning Center City
The city was developed in part to test the then very new rendering engine behind LindenWorld, and see how well it could manage a fairly dense environment. The city, with a central park featuring a fountain, a learning center, and a city hall, had no specific name, but was known as Linden Town or Linden City by some of the few on hand.

Linden City is seen in the photo above at night in what may be one of the first snapshots ever taken by a Resident. Steller Sunshine took this shot on her first day inworld, and she was the first non-Linden to visit the grid. Note Peter Linden hovering to the left in the image, as well as the central tower seen in most pictures of Linden City.

The city was erased not long from when LindenWorld became Second Life, replaced by Newbie Corral (our first welcome area), a store named Avatar Central, and the only remaining portion of that first city: the statue of Man that once lived in a square behind City Hall.

You can still visit that statue, now living on a hill near Natoma's Ivory Tower of Prims. It remains one of the oldest pieces of content in Second Life, still here long after the rest of the city vanished.
In Part II, we'll explore what happened when early Residents decided to form the very first city in Second Life.
Reporter Historian Marianne McCann

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