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Mindat.org - 10 years online today

Last Updated: 12th Oct 2010

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

Mindat.org - 10 years online today

Today, 10th October 2010, is the 10th anniversary of the public launch of the mindat.org website. Although the mindat project dates back to late 1993, it was on October 10th 2000 that I first announced the website to the world.

The first announcement was made on Usenet (which was the way things were done back in those days), in the group sci.geo.mineralogy. Here is that first announcement:

The first announcement

And here was my very first reply - quite negative! Luckily I didn't decide to try something less ambitious, and the poster of this message replied a few days later to say he had reconsidered and now agreed it was a worthy project. He's now a valued contributor on mindat.org.

The first reply

If you want to view the whole thread, it's available here.

1993 to 2000

Before mindat.org was a website, it was a personal computer database project I'd written from scratch using the C++ programming language. It ran as a DOS application (but I also compiled a version for my Amiga computer). The only person who ever used this was me. But with this program, the basic concepts of the mindat.org database, localities and minerals, were in place, and the data that I entered in this program became the core of the database when it was launched in 2000 as a website.

The original mindat application

When Windows 95 came out in 1995, I rewrote mindat into a Win32 application, and for the first time the information within my database could be searched and viewed in a more structured visual way. A few copies of this were given out online, but probably no more than about 50 people worldwide ever used a copy.

Mindat rewritten for Windows 95

But the big problem was still that all data had to be entered by me, by hand, the other users of the software could not contribute. For several years I looked at different solutions to this problem, but it was only in 2000 that I came up with the plan to convert it into a website and program that so that others could edit. This was, by the way, a year before Wikipedia was launched.


By 2001, the website was well established and popular, with photos and data being uploaded by members and the familiar mindat.org menu bar which we still have today.

In the early days I was helped significantly by the generosity of both John Betts and John Veevaert in allowing me to use their photographs on mindat.org.

During these early days I received lots of emails. Many of them were highly complimentary, but others were not - several people emailed me to say that I was doing everything wrong, that I didn't understand the science, that my database was full of errors. I wrote back, politely, and asked if they would be prepared to help

Mindat.org in 2001


By 2002 the page is evolving and we have our first news section online.

For those interested in the technical information, at this point mindat.org is running from a server we (My friend Jon Westgate and myself) built from spare parts - a 333Mhz Pentium II processor, 256Mb of RAM and a 10Gb hard disk!

Mindat.org in 2002


As the site develops I experiment with the home page. Note at this point there are still no adverts on mindat.org. During all this time the mindat.org server had been hosted by a local company (one of my clients) as a favour. I did accept donations at this time, but that never reached more than a hundred dollars or so a year.

Mindat.org in 2003


During 2004 the web page design becomes closer to what we have today.

In late 2004 we are asked to plan towards moving our server out of my clients office as they are closing down the office and selling off the company! We have some time to plan towards this, so at this point we start accepting mineral dealer adverts on mindat.org.

Mindat.org in 2004

We start promoting mindat.org at mineral shows in the UK - here is Ida wearing a mindat T-shirt at the Haywards Heath mineral show in 2004.

Ida at Haywards Heath


In early 2005 disaster strikes - the hard disk in the mindat.org server fails, and we find out that additionally our backups have failed for two weeks without us being alerted.

I buy a new server, for the first time a dedicated server with dual processors, dual hard disks, and 2Gb of ram. More reliable but also very expensive!

Mindat.org server, early 2005

In a most important development, October 2005 is the first time I travel to an overseas mineral show, I go to Munich to report on the mineral show there for mindat.org.

Mindat visits the Munich Show

While I'm busy walking and chatting with Bryan Lees (who is taking me, to introduce me to the first time to Rob Lavinsky), I saw someone walk past in the opposite direction wearing a mindat T-Shirt! I do a double-take, but he's gone, vanished into the crowds at Munich. Now, the mindat T-Shirts were one-of-a-kind creations made by hand and posted as gifts to mindat managers for their hard work in helping to run the site. Later on, I catch up with the wearer of the shirt, none other than Alfredo Petrov.

Alfredo in Munich 2005


During 2006, the layout we now recognise takes shape, and features such as "Photo of the Day" are launched.

Mindat.org in 2006

The first Photo of the Day was shown on the 1st of February 2006, and is this photo:

The first Photo of the Day - Bolivian Amesite by Saul Krotki

A very important development for both mindat.org and me personally, in 2006 I visit the Tucson gem and mineral shows for the first time.

Smugglers Inn, Tucson 2006

It's an opportunity to meet US collectors, dealers and mindat managers for the first time. Here I am with Chet Lemanski (Mindat manager) on the left and Jesse Fisher (UK Mining Ventures) on the right.

Chet Lemanski, me, Jesse Fisher

And the travel didn't stop there. Wayne and Dona Leicht invited us to go to the Tokyo mineral show in the summer of 2006.

Tokyo mineral show

Here I am at the Tokyo show with a mindat.org banner promoting the site.

Jolyon at Tokyo

2006 was also my first visit to the Denver mineral show. Here I met more people, firstly David von Bargen, who is now
helping to co-develop the mindat.org program code

Jolyon and David von Bargen

And here I am with Rock Currier, who is now of course a mindat manager, and is responsible for the "Best Minerals" project on mindat.

Jolyon and Rock

Mindat Books, offering free download PDF versions of mineral books, was also launched in 2006

Mindat Books

Munich 2006 was an opportunity for mindat.org to have a promotional booth for the first time. Here I am sat in the booth showing off the site.

Mindat Booth


2007 was a more difficult year for me personally, my internet business Mysterious Ways closed down in early 2007, which meant I was unable to go to Tucson that year. The advertising money meant that mindat.org was unaffected, and continued to operate without interruption despite the problems I was having.

The page layout of mindat.org has changed little since 2007!

Mindat.org in 2007

But I don't let things get me down, I try not to forget that at heart I am a mineral collector. I've been a member of the Sussex Mineral and Lapidary Society for many years, and in September 2007 I went on a field trip with them to the Isle of Mull - here I am with (from left to right) Peter Hay, Mark Oddy and to the right of me Peter Nancarrow on an exposure of sapphires in matrix on the shore of Mull.

Collecting on Isle of Mull

2007 also saw the launch of the Mindat Articles section, this article being a good example of what it was designed to do.

Finally, the year ends with mindat.org being invited to the launch of the new gallery "The Vault" at the Natural History Museum. It's an opportunity to dress up, mingle with celebrities and talk with friends. Here I am with Mike Rumsey, curator at the Natural History Museum.

with Mike Rumsey at "The Vault" launch, November 2007


2008 started with my return to Tucson, just in time for the best Tucson display of a generation, the "American Mineral Treasures" exhibits. Here's a quick video I made at the show just before the doors opened:

Another trip to the US in June, this time to Dallas, where I am invited by the Mineralogical Association of Dallas to speak about mindat.org.

2008 also saw the launch of a special version of mindat.org for the iPhone/iPod Touch - which can be found by visiting http://www.mindat.org/i.html and adding it as a bookmark on your phone/pod.

Pocket Mindat running on an iPhone


2009 meant another visit to Tucson. This time, we had the first flight of "Air Mindat", a collecting trip to two exciting local localities by helicopter. This was arranged by the late Roy 'Digger' Lee. Here's the helicopter with us waiting to board.

Air Mindat gets ready to take off

When I wasn't up in the air, I was promoting mindat.org in a booth in the main hall at the TGMS, kindly sponsored by Kristalle and Crystal Classics. Here I am in the booth. We were also displaying the mineral art of Sophia Shultz, who paints minerals based on photographs uploaded to mindat.org.

Mindat Booth 2009

The Tucson trip was followed soon after by another trip to the US for the Rochester Symposium, where I gave a talk about mindat.org. One of the things I showed at the symposium was my very first specimen, a rather poor quartz crystal in matrix from Tintagel, Cornwall. I found it when I was five years old, and it sparked my whole interest in minerals

Showing my first specimen

I was able to give another presentation about mindat.org in September 2009, at the Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Moscow, mostly to professional mineralogists from the various museums, institutes and universities in Moscow.

The Fersman Mineralogical Museum


2010 starts, of course, with another trip to Tucson. This year the display was Gem minerals, such as this wonderful display of Tanzanite crystals:

Tanzanite at Tucson 2010

Mindat.org has a booth at Tucson again this year, again sponsored by Crystal Classics and Kristalle, and we give out a sticker book for kids and stickers for them to stick into it, each sticker is one of the Mohs hardness minerals.

Mindat sticker book

Two trips to Poland later in the year to help towards the planning of the start of our next 10 years of mindat.org, with July 2011 being the date for the first international Mindat conference, to be held in Lwówek Śląski, Lower Silesia, Poland. Three days of field trips followed by three and a half days of conferences and workshops, watch mindat.org for details, which will be posted online very soon!

Lwówek Śląski, the beautiful setting for the Mindat 2011 Conference

Article has been viewed at least 79537 times.


Great article about mindat history! Soon interview with Jolyon about mindat.org (which will be printed in 6th issue of MINERALIEN Welt) will be available on mindat.
I hope next year conference will be new chapter in mindat (and not only) history!

Tomasz Praszkier
10th Oct 2010 7:34pm
I remember the days when Mindat could still be visited successfully using a dialup connection, without pulling too much hair out!! I have been visiting Mindat almost since its creation and it is really amazing to see the work and progress that has went into this site. Thank you Jolyon and the Mindat Management for putting together and maintaining such a fine website.

Paul Brandes
10th Oct 2010 8:10pm

What a great article!! The Mindat home page panels bring back a lot of memories. I don't recall the date that I first found Mindat but I was impressed sufficiently to register and start making input from a hardcopy, index card, "database" that I had started some years before. Really quite primative but still full of data. I do recall that at that time Mindat had over 5,000 localities (Wow!). Just look at us today! Mindat is, by far, the largest database on line addressing mineralogy, geology, mining history (industrial archeology), and geoscience related chat, forums and even an auction. I would like to express my gratitude to you for allowing me to participate in this magnificent project with a leap of faith since you didn't know me at the time. I would also like to thank all of my co-managers, other contributors, and our supporting advertisers for their dedication to the project in the furtherance of the science, hobby, and history. The next years are going to be awesome, starting with our first ever Mindat symposium in Poland next year. I can't wait!

Chet Lemanski

Chester S. Lemanski, Jr.
10th Oct 2010 8:12pm
A superb retelling of the history of mindat.org, chronicling it's voyage from obscureness, to the mineralogical juggernaut that it is today. Thank you Jolyon, Ida and everybody who have made this invaluable site possible. See you in mindat chat!

Best regards,

Matthew Langlois
New York, NY
a.k.a. Belnor on mindat chat.

Matthew Langlois
10th Oct 2010 9:31pm
Thanks for the historical resume Jolyon - very interesting. It has been a real "journey" and quite fascinating to see the on-line community build around the core of the database. I enjoy following the discussion threads and find the "news" items like this evening's post about Country File and Rogerley really useful.Mindaters seem to be a really friendly and enthusiastic bunch and the conference next year is a great initiative. Well done and keep up the good work - and thank you from all of us. Here's to the next ten years !

Best wishes

Roy Starkey

Roy Starkey
10th Oct 2010 10:14pm
"They don't know and don't even dream
that dream rules our lives
and everytime a Man dreams
the world jumps further ahead
like a painted ball
in the hands of a child..." (part of a portuguese poem by António Gedeão)

Really great! Congratulations.

Jorge Santos Garcia

Jorge Santos Garcia
10th Oct 2010 10:30pm
Great article, Jolyon. A great summary of the evolution of the best mineralogical database of the world!

Marco Barsanti
11th Oct 2010 6:17am
Hi Jolyon,
Splendid article. It does not only describe the evolution of a great database and website, but also of 10 years of computer technology.
Congratulations for your 10 years of efforts. I think we can all say that MINDAT changed the world (of mineral collectors at least) fundamentally.
And what a splendid date you have chosen 10 years ago... certainly not with 10/10/10 in mind :>)
I can speak of experience, because my daughter married on 6/6/6 (triple marriage - 3 couples, 2 brothers + 1 sister).
Magic figures...
Keep up the good work, and let's add 10 X 10 more years or so.
Rik Dillen

Rik Dillen
11th Oct 2010 7:13am
Thanks for sharing your trials and tribulations (or at least a small tithe of them) with us Jolyon. Iam SO glad yu weren't discouraged by that first reply! Mindat is an absolute godsend to me - I can't imagine what I would have to do to replace the straightforward access to so much varied info of mineralogical interest...

Many thanks for your work and care - they really are appreciated

Happy Birthday, Mindat


Timothy Greenland
11th Oct 2010 10:41am
Hello Jolyon,

Happy anniversary and thanks for all of the hard work that you and your colleagues put into this project.



Paul Siegel
11th Oct 2010 3:32pm
Jolyon, congratulations, to you and others! What would we do without this asset? Hopefully I'll have more time to use it and contribute in the future. So glad it has a great future.

Bill Dameron (baritebill)

Bill Dameron
11th Oct 2010 4:46pm
I am of course ashamed to have been the first nay-sayer. But fortunately, it seems that Jolyon considered my first message as a hit of a wip.
Good work, and good luck! (...and of course, I NOW find MINDAT a great help for serious and entertaining work!...)


jacques jedwab
12th Oct 2010 9:05am
thank you for the great pleasure of sharing the beautiful photos every day and the information contained on Mindat.
Long life and great success for the future Mindat.
Best regards.
CLAUDE Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie Claude
17th Oct 2010 6:13am
10 years already!

Technological change and boundless passion, make this site an essential reference whatsoever to the hobbyist or the researcher. I hope that the future of the site retains the same determination, and continues its evolution with the maximum information.


Jean-François LANOE

Jean-François Lanoë
17th Oct 2010 7:56am
Congratulations on the anniversary of such a good site and group of collectors who between them contribute to the spread of such a beautiful hobby such as collecting minerals.

Espero que Mindat llegue a los 20, 30, 40 e incluso 100 años =)

Greetings from Chile!

Steffan Giadach Axt
22nd Oct 2010 4:35am
Congratulations on the anniversary of Such a good site and group of collectors Between Them Who Contribute to the spread of Such a beautiful hobby Collecting Such as minerals.

I hope to Mindat reaches 20, 30, 40 and even 100 years =)

Greetings from Chile!

Steffan Giadach Axt
22nd Oct 2010 4:35am
Congratulations, lets keep this going forever.

Best Wishes,

Bill Bunn
30th Nov 2010 9:45pm

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