Charles's roots in the computer field go back to the
1970s when he wrote a program that ran on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Level II
microcomputer called Access-80. The system was jerry rigged to answer a 300 baud
modem (that's 0.3k as compared to 56k today). Such systems were referred to as a
computerized BBS (Bulletin Board System). A novel function on the Access-80
system was available to the caller that offered a relatively new concept. That
function was delivered by another program Charles wrote that he called
"email." There is more about Access-80 on Charles's personal page at Oropallo.org.
Based in Massachusetts, The Internet Access Company
(TIAC), was Charles and Susan Oropallo's personal Internet Service Provider
(ISP) from June 1998. TIAC provided 56k dial-up Internet access. With their
Internet service came a five megabyte personal web space. This was the first
Internet space that Charles managed. He created personal web pages on a machine
in his home using Microsoft FrontPage Express software and uploaded them to the
the Internet using a file transfer program (WS_FTP). He had placed some personal
information and photos on web pages that were online for family and friends to
view. He also experimented with the Personal Web Server (PWS) that is part of
Windows 95 and Windows 98. He had overcome the five megabyte space limitation by
putting his own pages online over a modem connection. This was before the days
of the ISPs blocking port 80.
In April 1999, Charles put forth a proposal at an
Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) of New Hampshire meeting he attended. He
proposed that a web site be set up so the AVP workshop scheduling could be
accessible twenty-four hours a day to facilitators (or anyone) desiring to
participate in an AVP workshop. Charles volunteered to manage the site as part
of the Oropallo's personal web space.
In June 1999, TIAC agreed to provide hosting for AVPNH
at no charge as long as the site space did not exceed the five megabyte limit
that was available through the Oropallo's personal TIAC account. On July 6, 1999
the AVPNH.org domain name was purchased and
Charles began managing it.
The Maine AVP organization was equally interested in a
web presence and hired Charles to create their web site. On August 24, 2000 he
began managing the Maine AVP site, AVP-ME.org.
Over time, TIAC was gobbled up by a larger ISP. Their
service worsened to a point where Internet access was terrible. For days on end
one could not dial in. Charles experienced intense frustration and wanted to
change to a different Internet Service Provider ( ISP) but felt locked into TIAC
because they continued to allow AVPNH.org free
During this time, Charles also started doing web
services for a professional speaker in NH.
It was not until July 2001 that Charles found another
company willing to make AVPNH.org available at no
charge, provided he kept a personal or business site with them. It was on that
date that the Oropallo.org domain was obtained
and the personal space from the old TIAC space was now available under its own
domain name. AVPNH.org was moved to the new
company as well. The new company also allowed space for AVPME.org and along with KezarTraining.com now Charles was managing
four web sites on the new company's servers.
Before long, Charles managed about a dozen sites on the
new company's servers. The management was soon happening under the name of
CharlesWorks, which consisted of a series of domain names Charles had purchased.
Service was inexpensive, but, as it turned out, increasingly unreliable. As if
it were not bad enough that the server down time was worsening, there was no way
for Charles to ever speak with a person about the problems. As the service
worsened there was less communication from those managing it.
Charles would leave messages and return calls were never
made. He vowed he would not do that to folks if it were up to him.
The CharlesWorks internet web presence provider was
getting so unreliable that it disappeared at one point for in excess of three
weeks. Free for non-profit organizations or not, CharlesWorks had to find
another company to provide web services. There were important schedules and
information on the non-profit sites that many folks relied upon, as well as
email, that became increasingly unavailable.
The next hosting company CharlesWorks used was much more
expensive. Their service appeared to be very reliable. However, after only a
couple of months with them, a bug surfaced in the operating system of the server
CharlesWorks was on. This bug made it impossible for CharlesWorks clients to
update their own sites and inadvertently opened private areas of sites to public
access (although there was no breach of security as the problem was discovered
immediately). The company CharlesWorks was dealing with unsuccessfully
endeavored to resolve the problem.
This problem went on for a number of weeks, costing
CharlesWorks several hundred hours of additional work. CharlesWorks was forced
to explore a more reliable solution.
Operating its own servers had been a goal early on for
CharlesWorks. So that's exactly what happened in August 2003.
CharlesWorks then operated its own servers across
Southern New Hampshire in Nashua, Peterborough, and Keene. CharlesWorks has had
no major disruptions in service since that time. In fact, the worst problem that
has arisen to date was a backup hard disk failure resulting in less than ten
minutes of actual server down time.
CharlesWorks was pleased to report that its servers were handling Internet service traffic for over 70 domains during 2003. Some were
mentioned on what used to be our information site, CharlesWorks.info. That site now resolves to our newest CharlesWorks.com site.
Since that time, CharlesWorks continued to expand, taking on its first employee, Robin Snow, in 2004. CharlesWorks also upgraded its internet connectivity numerous times since then. In 2008, a dedicated gigabit service was run from the local telephone substation to the CharlesWorks facility. This provided extremely reliable, robust service that suffered little or no down time. The number of websites handled by
CharlesWorks over the years exceeded 5,000.