We are about to end the decade that brought us BitTorrent, and all the good and bad that came with it. In a series of articles during the coming days, we will review some of the most pivotal torrent sites that emerged over the years, each of which left their mark and brought us to where we are today.
In the fall of 2002, just months after Bram Cohen released his first version of BitTorrent to the public, and at a time when there were only a few BitTorrent sites on the Internet, a new website called Suprnova.org was born.
Suprnova was founded by Andrej Preston, a Slovenian teenager better known as Sloncek, who started the site as a fun project to show off to some friends on IRC. The site started off with a very primitive setup, hosted on a Linux box at Sloncek’s home.
In the weeks that followed, word of the “Universal BitTorrent Source” spread like wildfire. It was no surprise that the traffic generated by Suprnova quickly maxed out the meager 16kb/s upload capacity Sloncek had at home.
The increased popularity of Suprnova came around the same time as other torrent sites like donkax.com, bytemonsoon.com and torrentse.cx, decided to quit. These sites were more or less forced to go offline, either due to bandwidth constraints or cease and desist letters. But Suprnova made it very clear that it wasn’t going anywhere.
Suprnova continued to grow, and Sloncek spent most of the time looking for mirrors to guarantee that the site stayed up. At its peak it indexed almost 60,000 torrents and served around 1.5 million visitors per day. Suprnova had a very active community, and its forum was among the biggest on the Internet.
In November 2004, Suprnova’s ISP told Sloncek that the servers had been taken into custody by the Slovenian police. The raid was initiated by the French anti-piracy lobby RetSpan. The police never contacted Sloncek about this personally, but it was a sign that things were about to change.
Around the same time, Reuters wrote about Sloncek and his rapidly growing site in one of their articles, which soon after spread out to the Slovenian press.
This was the turning point for Sloncek. He later said: “So I ended up reading about myself in Slovenian newspapers. And right about that time, I had a feeling something was wrong. I do not really know what the feeling was or where it was coming from, but I decided it was time to take Suprnova.org offline.”
Sloncek eventually pulled the plug on December 19, 2004, which marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.
The fall of Suprnova resulted in an avalanche of new sites that aimed to fill the gap. Among these new sites was Mininova, which despite its name outgrew Suprnova within a year, establishing itself as one of the leading torrent sites for nearly five years.
In 2007, Suprnova returned to the BitTorrent stage, resurrected by the folks behind The Pirate Bay. The site never even came close to what it was though, and as of today it is just serving a few torrents a day to some lost souls.
Sloncek himself moved on with his life. He moved to San Francisco in 2007 where he’s attending the Academy of Art University. He didn’t cut his BitTorrent roots completely though, as he’s currently directing TorrentFreak TV in his spare time.