~1995: Thomas Schlidt, ND student who worked for The Observer, agrees to help facilitate email discussions regarding football recruiting between a few folks with a message board on the nd.edu/observer site. This becomes the original IRJ (Irish Recruiting Journal). Erik Kushto (another ND student) and Schlidt were in charge after a while
ca. 1996: ACross first appears with the handle "Haywood Jablowme."
ca. two days later: Wass bemoans that chicks don't dig him; Haywood and Bacchus commence personal hygeine, grooming, and conversational tips.
(ca. March 2003: Wass still has coffee, funyuns, and skoal juice stuck in his goatee.)
1998: Scott Shookhoff, random teenager, holds "very important chat!" to discuss his grand plan to spin off a new board that will be better than the IRJ thanks to passwords. Poster (handle started with a "g", I believe - bonus points for anyone who can remember it) who insisted on screaming "Time to take out the TRASH!!!!" everytime MGOAZUL or Marco or Balto or Mr. Delete showed up rejoiced. IrishLine forms in the summer and quickly becomes a haven for losers and Chuck84.
MGOAZUL/MGO was an absurd, rambling fan of Michigan found out to be a fat, out-of-work, early model Civic-driving, mail-order-bride-marryin', psychotic attorney named Tim Kovach. Probably the most prominent and bizarre flamer.
Marco was rabidly anti-ND and a constant nuisance. Bacchus, ACross, and many others regularly humiliated him, but he stayed around to torment until early 1999 or so, when he disappeared then reappeared in the manic, caricature of a fan we have today.
Balto was another consistent flamer and most thought he was Marco in drag. No IP capture in those days meant lots of impostor posts.
UHND existed at least by 1997, maybe earlier.
IrishEyes.com, run by Joe Tybor and Alan Tieuli has stories for ~$50/year; message board is sparsely populated.
1998: Mike Frank joins Rivals network. Message board not too populated.
1999 (early, I think): Tom Schlidt decides to take IRJ to Rivals. Natives pelt him with various overripe fruit. To be fair, with the growing size of the IRJ and with the matter of having this fan site on nd.edu website, IRJ probably had to go somewhere.
A few weeks later: A random poster or two discovers that while the IRJ main page does not exist any longer, old messages do. Any message can be used as its own board and the underground IRJ is born.
A couple months later: Somebody rats out the underground IRJ and it gets closed. Much too much hullaballoo ensues and for reasons I don't remember, long-time poster Jack O'Brien sulked off never to return. He wasn't alone.
Summer 1999: Mike's board is now most popular, IRJ gradually fading. Frustrated with horrible speed and utility of the Rivals boards, late-night poster SEE puts message on Mike's board asking if anyone sees the need for a spinoff board. 30 or so responses say no. Cash was the only posted "yes" reply.
July 1999: SEE creates Irish Recruiting Pub on irishtalk.com. SEE is bar keep, Jvan and Cash are bouncers. They invite about 20 or 30 folks but don't say a word about the Pub publicly. Numbers are kept low but new folks are gradually brought in with the idea to avoid alerting the unwashed masses to this new site, which grows steadily.
November 1999: Cash sees a post on Irishline from ND91 asking for a better alternative than the drivel featured there. Telling him he "has a cure for what ails him", Cash gives him the address for the Irish Recruiting Pub. Shortly after arrival, ND91 changes his handle to El Kabong.
1999/2000: Rivals IRJ fades and gets swallowed by Mike's site to become the best named board ever, the ND Supersite, still on a failing Rivals network.
March/April 2000: NDHoops.com, brainchild of SEE and Kabong, goes online and absorbs the hoops folks from SportsMidwest. It gets attention quickly three months later when Matt Doherty departs, getting over 100,000 page views on The Pit the day of his UNC press conference, and grows from there.
Summer 2001: SEE wants to combine the Football and Basketball boards, move beyond just message boards and create a front page to post articles. He buys the "NDNation.com" URL and together he, Kabong, JVan and Cash design the front page into a newspaper format. NDHoops.com move over to NDNation and boards are created for basketball, football and Irish olympic sports.
Mike Frank finally ditches his site on Rivals and an influx of his posters swarm NDNation. Pub/NDNation folks don't exactly mesh with them and protracted internet bickering ensues for months.
Blue and Gold takes over Rivals spot; message board never very populated, although God bless mkovac for trying to make it readable.
IrishEyes guys go to Insiders. Site and board go over like lead zeppelin. Done within a year.
~ late 2001: IrishLine dies a slow, pathetic death after having abandoned the initial password idea and failing to monitor their board. A slew of nincompoops flood NDNation with their particular genius.
2002/2003: Mike Frank forms Insiders site ("Fighting Irish Insider", later to become "IrishEyes with Mike Frank", after Joe Tybor and Alan Tieuli join).