The Palace is a two dimensional graphical chat application that enables users to
interact with each other through a variety of mediums. These mediums include
expressive avatars, chat, and sounds.
It was originally created by Jim Bumgardner
as somewhat of a technology experiment back in 1994 for Time Warner Interactive,
but quickly evolved into one of the greatest phenomenon on the Internet, creating
a successful online community.
In 1996, the rights to The Palace were sold to The Palace, Inc. ("TPI"), a newly
formed company by Intel Corporation
which added users by charging a fee for a lifetime membership. While a
significant number of users were added to the Palace Chat community this way,
TPI couldn't sustain itself because the memberships lasted a lifetime with
unlimited free upgrades.
So, in 1998 the software was sold to a Electric Communities, creators of the
Habitats visual chat architecture and another holding of TPI majority
shareholder SOFTBANK. In 1999, Electric Communities became Communities.com ("CC").
This was at the height of the "dot-com" boom when conventional wisdom believed
Internet advertising could financially sustain a company, so CC thought they
could greatly increase The Palace's exposure but remain profitable if they made
these memberships free, while using banners as its sole means of financial
Communities.com continued to bring users to The Palace by greatly enhancing the
InstantPalace java viewer, and calling it The Palace Viewer ("TPV"). At its
height, it was closely equivalent to the actual user software in terms of
features and compatibility. In some aspects, it was more advanced, allowing full
color room art and avatars. CC's events team landed numerous deals with big
companies like CBS Broadcasting
to produce new Palaces, while bringing big name celebrities to do online
interviews at its events concourse, The Arena.
Sadly, in October 2000 when the Internet bubble popped and the "dot-coms" began
to melt down, Communities.com decided support for The Palace was to be
immediately ceased. This day was called "Black Tuesday" by some Palace users.
Early the following year, in March 2001, the board of directors at
Communities.com made the decision to file for voluntary liquidation under
Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.
The rights to The Palace and its underlying source code are now owned by Open Text Corporation.
However, they currently have no plans for it. So, community hubs like The Palace
Legacy Project ("TPLP") run The Palace and attract new users.
This article was reprinted, without permission, from The Palace Legacy Project about The Palace Chat history.