Flash back to 1997. The space station Mir was in orbit, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke 7,000 for the first time, a computer program called Deep Blue made history by beating champion Gary Kasparov and Cigar Aficionado magazine launched its website, CigarAficionado.com. Today, after 13 years, all of us here at Cigar Aficionado would like to personally welcome you to the completely new beta version of CigarAficionado.com. It's a very modern take on your favorite cigar website.
We released the beta version of our new site this morning, while leaving our old site intact for a few more days. We hoped to ease you into the new site, rather than making an abrupt change, and also allow you to compare the differences between the two. We've been opening up the two homepages side-by-side to make comparisons.
The differences are striking. The most obvious change from a visual standpoint is our new slider of photographs. Our old homepage typically had images that were the size of a mini Post-It note, about 1 1/4 inches square. The photos on our new slider are huge-6 1/2 inches wide and more than three inches high. (In fact, the width of the new photos is identical to the length of the celebratory cigar I'm smoking right now.)
Our cigar ratings are improved-there are more than 13,000 cigars in our database-and they're easier to sort and use so you can find the best cigars to suit your palate. You can search by price, tasting date, country of origin, even the type of wrapper you enjoy.
The new site is engineered to make you a bigger part of what we do. On the original site, any user feedback only happened in our forums. Now you can comment directly on any story we've written. And registering to comment is entirely free.
Speaking of registering, the process is much easier than in the past. Have a Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, AOL or Yahoo account? You can use any one of those to log in, or simply create an account with an email address.
We've done a better job organizing all of your favorite items. Click on news to stay up to date on everything going on in and around the cigar world, and click on cigar stars to read up about the people who make your favorite smokes. A click on celebrities brings up the vast list of famous people who have been in our magazine over the years, from cigar icons George Burns to Groucho Marx and Winston Churchill to modern stars such as Alec Baldwin, Jay-Z and Sylvester Stallone.
New to cigars? We have a greatly expanded Cigar 101 section, with videos, tips, definitions, and links to our Cigar 101 videos, as well as a newbie corner dedicated to helping remove the mysteries of cigar smoking. Our popular video section has a new tabulation system, making it easier to find what you're interested in.
We cover Cuba like no one else, with a Cuba channel dedicated to the country's cigars and lifestyle. Our new Good Life Guide button features channels on where to smoke, gambling, golf, and much more, as well as the magazine's good life guide section.
Want to be part of Cigar Aficionado's Moments to Remember? Now you can upload your own photos, which could be published in the magazine or on our website.
This new site is the result of enormous amounts of work by many people here at M. Shanken Communications Inc., the parent company of Cigar Aficionado magazine, people who work behind the scenes so our stories, blogs, videos and ratings can be presented in the fashion you're accustomed to. I hope you agree with me it's a job well done.
We loved the old CigarAficionado.com. It was our online home for 13 years, a site so wonderful that it won the very first National Magazine Award for excellence online. And while 13 years may be a long time in the Internet world, all of us here can assure you it's only the beginning.
I have my celebratory smoke right here to welcome in the new site. I hope you join me.