It was a sign of the times. At the height of the dot-com craze, a Pennsylvania company persuaded Halfway, a small town in Eastern Oregon...
HALFWAY, Ore. — It was a sign of the times.
At the height of the dot-com craze, a Pennsylvania company persuaded Halfway, a small town in Eastern Oregon, to change its name to half.com to promote used books, movies and DVDs.
The most visible symbol of the effort were signs at the city limits that said: “Welcome to half.com Oregon. America’s First Dot.com City.”
The town only agreed to proclaim itself half.com for one year, but the signs weren’t removed until long after the Internet bubble had burst.
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One sign is now in a town museum; the other is up for auction on eBay, the company that bought half.com for more than $300 million a few months after the publicity stunt.
The bidding ends at 4:42 p.m. Sept. 23.
The gimmick worked to perfection, attracting worldwide attention. NBC’s Today show broadcast live from both half.coms — the town and the company — on the day of the name change, Jan. 19, 2000.
To get the town to switch, the company donated more than $100,000 in cash and goods: 20 computers for Halfway Elementary School, a prize to be raffled at the Baker County Fair, cash for a tractor with a front-end loader and seed money for community development.
The tractor continues to keep streets clear of snow, but the now-obsolete school computers had to be sold at a community yard sale or recycled this summer to make way for replacements.
Mayor Gordon Kaesemeyer said whatever money is made on the eBay auction will probably go to United Community Partners, the community development organization founded in 2001 with $20,000 in seed money from half.com’s donation.
The bidding was up to $162.50 early Tuesday. Local Halfway buyers — and there are 350 people who live there — can pay with cash or a personal check. Others must use PayPal.