Some of the best ideas are so incredibly simple that, after-the-event, we’re all left wondering why we never came up with them. When I first heard of The Million Dollar Homepage back in October 2005, that’s precisely how I felt (like millions of others, no doubt).
Alex Tew was a student trying to figure out how to pay his way through university. Short of money and short of socks, he scrawled “How can I become a millionaire?” on a notepad and, twenty minutes later, The Million Dollar Homepage was born. The concept was simple – create a website and charge people a dollar-a-pixel to place an image on a grid a thousand pixels wide by a thousand high. ‘Selling’ all million pixels – if he could pull it off – would net him a cool one million dollars.
Launched towards the end of August 2005 the idea was so novel, quirky and brilliant, the least I felt I could do was part with a little of my own hard-earned cash and buy up a few in a show of support. At that time the site was far from full, and it was still unclear whether or not all the space was going to sell. Today, the completed image is something of an internet icon.
Around the same time Alex was raking in the dollars, I was putting together the final touches of a little project of my own. Somewhere in those million pixels you’ll find a couple of hundred dedicated to FrontlineSMS (no prizes, but see if you can spot them). Like Alex, I had no idea back then whether my idea was going to get any serious traction.
Looking back, neither of us needed worry.