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ThinkGeek started as an idea. A simple idea to create and sell stuff that would appeal to the thousands of people out there who were on the front line and in the trenches as the Internet was forged. From programmers, engineers, students, lovers of open source, to the masses that helped create the behind-the-scenes Internet culture. ThinkGeek started as a way to serve a market that was passionate about technology. Three out of the four founding members started an ISP in the Northern Virginia area way way back in 1995. We couldn't afford Solaris, learned about a free UNIX-like OS, and spent almost an entire day downloading it onto over 50 floppies for installation on an old 486 laptop with no cd-rom (thanks Slackware!). After a few years with the ISP gig, the ThinkGeek idea popped into our heads, and, operating out of a spare room at the ISP office we setup shop and launched the site on Friday the 13th, 1999...
A month or so later we were Slashdotted. Promptly thereafter, ThinkGeek was acquired by the good folks at Andover.Net who through an acquisition and a couple of name changes, is now known as SourceForge, Inc. So we're part of a cool gaggle of sites including slashdot.org, sourceforge.net, linux.com, and freshmeat.net. Pretty nice company to be amongst, eh? We're pretty proud of it!
ThinkGeek runs a homegrown system developed primarily in Perl, all written by one of our founders (Jon), and maintained by our resident code monkeys (Buddy and Jacob). Requests are served up through a heavily customized combination of Apache, mod_perl and mod_ssl. The actual pages served to visiting web browsers are handled by our custom Apache modules that take over the entire content request/response phases of Apache, allowing us to make use of caching and load balancing features of our software. We get a pretty good amount of traffic, so your average setup just won't do for us--heck, we can survive a Slashdotting (though, we weren't always able to). All of our production servers run RedHat Linux (but transitioning to Centos); our development servers are all Gentoo.
ThinkGeek utilizes ten frontend servers with dual processors for serving content to our customers, and a single dual processor webserver for backend administrative tasks. We also run three quad Xeon processor Linux boxes for our database servers. A few miscellaneous servers exist to do various testing and to stage content before going live on the site. There are dedicated firewalls (mixture of Linux and OpenBSD boxes) in front of all our servers (duh). We also share a 1.6TB SAN with other OSDN websites for near-line backups. ThinkGeek has access to dual 100 Mbps pipes served from the West Coast.