From Sonic Retro
Ethiopia -- The Sonic secrets community gains stature
With the discovery of Andre's Beta ROM (later on to be deemed a late alpha development), questions flare. Since levels like Hidden Palace Zone were highly advertised but never found, Sonic fans had questions about how the level looked. I hope to have more info at some time from André here. Meanwhile, with the realization that the Mario hacking scene was extremely advanced (they were already picking apart completely mapped, coherent disassemblies), yet the Sonic hacking scene was nowhere, a kid by the name of Andrew Wolan started a site dedicated to unearthing information in the Sonic the Hedgehog games. Namely, Sonic and Knuckles.
Overall happenings and history
With this, André launched the Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1998. The Sonic Secrets scene officially had a home, therefore a new branch of the Sonic community was born. Pretty soon Sonic Pandemonium, a site owned by Sonique Hedgehog (at that time "Soneec"), jumped into the scene as well. It could easily be argued that the scene started there as well. Once again, I will search out these people for more info...
UPDATE: It'll be easier than trying to reword this... Sonic Pandemonium and Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog existed pretty much around the same time. Sonic Pandemonium became Perfect Chaos (ever heard of the Perfect Chaos Gang? I'll cover 'em.) and then eventually turned into a SatAM fan site, Fans United for SatAM or FUS.. a community that still exists to this day!
On the other side, Andrew Wolan launched Andy’s Sonic Hacking Station. It became a moderate success. It was then that Andy met André. After awhile the two sites fused together into one. These two sites together became known as the SSRG.
Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog
Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog had everything from what was in Andre’s beta to theories about the beta and hoaxes (Sonic Pandemonium e-mailed Andre asking for permission to add a hoax section to her site. Andre said yes! That's how the hoaxing craze spread). Sonique didn’t like what was happening with André and his site and they never really hit it off too well... (Actually, Sonique ['Soneec' at the time] was a very angry lady. Andre loved to pull pranks like Knuckles in China Land and "Who will bake the pie?". Hence there was a clash! These euphemisms sound familiar? They should! Andre Dirk and Dr. Zac were the original Samantha Clarfet!)
Andy’s Sonic Hacking Station
The only early site still out there. You can find it on Google by looking up Andy Wolan. It had a moderate amount of Sonic hacking information. Mainly Sonic and Knuckles info. After awhile, small amounts of Sonic secrets info started showing up.
In about 1998, SoSth and ASHS shook hands and created SSRG, a site owned by Andy. They decided to take sites based on secrets and offer them to become a member of this “elite” group of people. It was invite only, no hiring allowed. This method worked very well and assured picking out the riffraff -- a method that works very well today in weeding out members on Sonic Retro. While the SSRG didn’t start out too hot, it started picking up in early 1999. One of the first sites accepted was Area 51...
...which was owned by Jan Abaza. Area 51 was a site that had been out there long before SoSth, but never really got the recognition it deserved. It had all the weird Sonic screen shots that never made it into the games, thus it was locked away from the public (get it? Area 51 = confidential?). The site was quickly invited on, followed by others such as the Fan Games Archive (a site by Ryan Langley [AKA Rlan]), Tom’s Hacking Station, Underground Zone (owned by Cyan Helkaraxe and Bane ???) and Organized Chaos(Stealth's site)
It was the beginning of the scene basically, and that was good enough. However there was one major breakthrough...
The SSRG was the biggest breakthrough. It represented the Sonic secrets scene as a growing force in Sonic Fandom. The “hub”, if you will, of the Sonic secrets community.
I don’t have any idea about the MBs of this era, though I do know that Sonic Pandemonium’s was there. That’s the only one I know for sure.
- Andy / NO CARRIER
- AJ Freda (SSNTails)
- Scott Prower
- Johnny “Sonikku” Wallbank
- Tails (Andre’s friend, the current owner of Andre’s two betas)
- Sonique / Nique
- Dr. Zachary
- Various members of the Perfect Chaos Gang
- The Lurker
and many more that I will add when I remember them...