The Word Wide Web is 25 years old.
Announcements like that make me realise 'I am getting old'. Ok, lots of things remind me I'm getting old, but this particular event brought forth all sorts of memories I thought I'd share.
I started university in 1991 when the world wide web was two. The young internet was pretty much resticted to the military and universities in the early years. 1991 was when 3.5 inch floppy disks had (almost) replaced 5 1/4 inch floppy disks; PC's weren't everywhere and X-terminals were commonplace in computer science laps, along side some early model Macs. Microsoft Windows wasn't really a thing and consoles such Commodore 64/Amiga were popular.
While I started in a computer science degree I finished with a Bachelor of Science. My experience of the internet at university was largely text-based; staying awake till the early hours of the morning to play text-based online adventure games with others in the US (modern processing is so powerful here is a simulator). My first real experience with a world-wide-web browser happened in 1993 with the release of Mosaic.
Here's a link to a simulator of what browsing was like back in the day.
Good times eh!
I've always thought it was my lot who went through uni and got a 'taste' for internet browsing which helped drive its growth. Graduating in 1993, I needed a way to 'connect' so I saved and purchased modems, and paid the first australian Internet Providers to dial into their services to do stuff. The 90's was when I was a programmer running a small business and Delphi was my language of choice. I found dialing in (via my trusty modem) was sometimes a hit-and-miss affair. If I happened to be trying when everybody else was, I couldn't connect. Often I was then disconnected for what seemed no reason, which of course doesn't happen today ;) Here's a link to the sound of a modem dial-tone.
In the 90's Microsoft Windows started to 'take off' with the first generation of 'memes' flying about declaring Nerds had beaten Jocks due to Bill Gates increasing wealth.
Downloads took a long-long time; fortunatly sites hadn't been corrupted by Adobe Flash animations or heavy graphics just yet. Cryptography was still classified as a munitions by the military so Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) made headlines by creating cryptography for the masses. In recent times thanks to the Snowden relevations products are now being worked on which further improve personal privacy, such as BlackPhone and ORP1.
As the 90's continued more and more sites were created. Governments started to deliver sevices online. The 'technology' of the internet was making its ways into the underpinning services. We were working (at the time) with version 1.0 of things, and in some cases beta versions of libraries. Email news letters was the thing (I had way too many subscriptions). I used to get together with some work colleagues, with our PC's, and hire a local childcare centre on the weekend for LAN games. We used to have 'escalations' over the breaks with each of us trying to out-do the other on graphics card capability; back when buying a 4MB graphic card would cost several hundred dollars.
The entry to the 2000's saw the completion of the various 'Y2K' projects which were mitigating the risk that computer programs only storing 2 digits for the year when 99 to 00 would cause mass chaos. Of course nothing serious happened, which then led to claims by some of Y2K being nothing more than fear campaign to benefit programmers. An alternative view, of course, is those projects were successful because nothing happened, but I would say that wouldn't I ;) Anyhow, after Y2K we had the Dot Com crash in 2001. Many an IT person was out of a job; yet internet growth continued. Smart phones wern't 'a thing' yet, but personal digital assistants were huming along.
The Dot-Com crash marked the end of several years of hype (late 90's on) about how "The Internet" was going to change everything. Amazon was born in 1995, and there were still had many search engines (Altavista was my favourite); Google wasn't a thing until 1997. I was working for the banking industry developing internet enabled 'wealth management' platforms and software for financial planners. So the focus was still very much on 'wealth management' (products), but banks were begining to realise the 'efficienies' from people transacting online (vs having branches open). In fact, the early 2000's saw a slew of branch closes across Australia and Bank consolidation, much to the chargrin of many.
I think the "web" as we experience today is very different from the mid 90's, but not that much different from 5-10 years ago. The standards underpinning the internet have stabalised a bit. The Social Media explosion (Twitter, Facebook, Blogging etc) is 'a thing', but I think eventually it will give way to something new. That for me is one of my biggest memories of the Internet, just how much it has changed how we do things, and in some cases, what we do.
I started programming software for car's, and ended up developing web-based solutions. I used to go to branches to do banking, but I've now had an online account for over 10 years and pretty much never walk into a branch. When in Australia, I live pretty close to cashless, transacting either with EFTPOS or putting things on the credit card. I still visit the farmers markets and shopping centers for food: but I buy my music/video/games online, and try to get eBooks as much as I can. I rarely buy from a mainstream book-store (occassionally a local one), prefering Amazon. I blog, I tweet, I Skype, I interact with friends and family while overseas thanks to the internet. It allows me to keep in touch, much more so than I could 25 years ago, when letters were written (and posted), and STD phone calls cost a motsa.
What are your memories of the internet? Has it changed things for you?
Spreading the word
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Thinkyness came about from the charming @Perorationer who often tweets Jan & Noely in the morning with a random article he has found that would make you think, could be anything from Women in the 1800's to a potential world wide wine shortage which we would then discuss, obviously this led on to us tweeting each other #Thinkyness articles [...] more
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