MAGICTRICKS.COM - ON THE INTERNET SINCE MAY 1997
"We should be on the Internet".
In 1996, the Magic Tricks brick-and-mortar shop was located next to the University of Virginia.
Many customers were UVa students, and some were very excited about the use of the Internet for online shopping.
Though we had run walk-in shops, mail order and magic convention booths for over 20 years at that point, we did not own a computer nor had we ever even used one.
Always quick to find new ways to sell magic tricks, we jumped right in anyway.
Since Jackie has the unversity degrees, and Peter has the School of Hard Knocks experience, Jackie would learn the computer skills while Peter would handle the inventory and shipping.
"When turned on the computer for the first time, I didn't even know that the mouse was what moved the cursor!" Jackie laughs.
Our "soft open" as MagicSupplies.com
Within a week, we had secured our first domain name, MagicSupplies.com.
Jackie got busy learning coding so she could build a basic website.
She found some online tutorials, going back to her college habits of pulling "all-nighters" to get the job done.
There was no affordable commercially-available credit card processing system available back then, so at the very beginning, the website was basically an online catalog with a toll-free number.
The Holy Grail
Within a few weeks of launching the MagicSupplies.com website, we got really lucky.
The domain name MAGICTRICKS.COM was about to become available!
Owned by a shoe salesman in Ohio who had done nothing with it since obtaining it two years earlier, we had high hopes that he was just going to let it expire.
Back in 1997, you had to go through a company called Network Solutions to obtain a domain name.
A SIDE NOTE: until 1995, domain registration was free.
Network Solutions was granted the sole authority to start charging yearly fees for them in 1995.
Network Solutions was the sole source of domain registrations until 1998 when ICANN was formed, allowing other registrars to resell domains from the registry.
Anyway- we put in our order for MAGICTRICKS.COM and held our breath.
At 12:01 am on May 27, 1977, the old registration expired.
And Network Solutions granted us the new registration.
An Internet magic shop was born.
From the beginning, we wanted to add a lot of value to the website, above and beyond offering great tricks for sale.
In the early days, that meant incorporating bits of software like PageTalk, which allowed us to embed audio snippets of Peter talking to you about new items in the shop.
Later, that meant adding as much video as possible, to make the experience just like visiting Peter in his magic shop in person.
We also started our Magic Library, which is still growing and available on our site, including magic biographies, articles on magic history, photo displays of antique magic items, and a big section on Houdini.
We continue to add new features, including our blog articles, with entries on magic performances and the history of magic.
The First MagicTricks.com Design
The first MagicTricks.com online shop was pretty basic, coded completely by hand by Jackie, but it functioned.
Because we were on the Internet so early in the game, we attracted an impressive number of customers right off the bat, even though they had to order by phone.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 1997
(Some of the image files no longer exist, so you will see some broken images)
By mid-1999, we found an affordable service that let us process credit cards and let the customer truly order online through a shopping cart.
We also became friends with one of the developers of FrontPage, the website building software, who also happens to be a magician.
Using FrontPage, we were able to greatly improve the appearance and the useability of the website.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 1999
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2000
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2001
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2002
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2005
By 2009, we needed a more high-powered website.
We found a new website ecommerce hosting company (who we are still with, by the way!).
Online ordering was supercharged, and the website design got a complete makeover.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN EARLY 2009
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN LATE 2009
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2011
By 2012, we needed an updated logo as well as a fresh website design.
This time, we opted for a more open look, with all the features clearly displayed.
We also started featuring videos on our home page.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2012
In 2013, we really began the focus on videos.
It's a focus we still have today.
The idea is to make you feel like you are in our magic shop, watching Peter in person as he performs each trick, and interacts with you.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2013
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2014
More improvements to the design and to making navigation easier.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2016
More changes, more improvements.
SEE WHAT THE SITE LOOKED LIKE IN 2020
(For some reason, this archived screenshot does not always display properly).
And this brings us to the current MagicTricks.com design.
Launched in 2021, our current design takes advantage of the latest coding to make it super fast, both on desktop and miobile devices.
Through the years, Jackie has kept up with her training, and yes, she still does much of the coding herself!
Hope you enjoyed reading about how we built MagicTricks.com into the online magic shop that it is today.
If you have any comments- or suggestions!- please share them with us.