A brief (and most incomplete) history of Internet things


If you are like me I have a poor memory of when various technologies came into play. So here is a brief and very incomplete summary of key Internet dates. What have I missed?

1969 A computer in the University of California, LA was connected to a computer to the Standford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA four hundred miles away. This led to a total of four academic institutions networking themselves through leased phone lines and utilising ‘packet switching’ technology for the first time.
1971 Ray Tomlinson, a programmer at Bolt, Nernek and Newman developed some rules for the first e-mail. The first message is lost to time, but Tomlinson did adopt the @ symbol and created the “user@host” e-mail addressing system still in use today.
1975 The network had grown to 57 locations making use of ‘Interface Message Processors’ across the United States, and one node in London. The network was known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Acing).
1979 Two grad students from Duke University created the technology to allow their computers to communicate over standard telephone lines rather then relying upon very very expensive leased lines.
1981 The ARPANET had grown to 213 computers and was adding a computer every twenty days.
1983 The old packet switching protocol was replaced by TCP/IP to provide a common internetwork protocol. By this time the various networks of computers across academic, government and military institutions were collectively known as the Internet.
1990 Tim Berners-Less wrote a program called WorldWideWeb. To help make it easier for fellow physicists to communicate with one another. It was based around the standard of HTML and HTTP. It was made widely and freely available in 1991.
1993 CERN declared that the WorldWideWeb protocols devised by Berners-Lee would be royalty-free, thereby making the web open.
1994 Mosaic was browser software written by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina for UNIX which was then rewritten to run in PC and Macintosh machines. We were getting close to universal standards for the world wide web.   This was renamed Netscape Navigator as Andreessen took his university creation into the commercial sector.
1995 Netscape had 40 million users
1997 Jorn Barger coined the word ‘weblog’.
1997 SixDegrees.com was launched – a selection of profile pages used to link users together (it was to close in 2000)
1998 70 million web users
1999 Peter Merholz coins the term ‘blog’ – the same year as Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan launched blogger.com a platform made for web loggers/
2000 250 million web users
2002 Friendster was an early dating website – again working around user created profiles which allowed friends to communicate and share ideas with one another. By May 2003 Friendster had 300,00 users
2004 Disgruntled users of Friendster (it had technical issues) decamped to MySpace.     By the end of the year it had grown to be bigger than Friendster.
2004 Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook for his friends at Harvard University. Early on admission to Facebook was limited to a few chosen academic institutions.
2005 MySpace had 25 million users and was sold to News Corps for $850 million.
2006 1 billion internet users and 40 million bloggers
2006 Facebook open to anyone over the age of 13 to use.
2006 Micro-blogging site Twitter launched in July.
2007 Tumblr launched
2010 Google+ launched
2012 Facebook is the most popular social-networking site in 127 out of 137 countries.   Russian and China have their own heavily censored and controlled variations of Facebook.
2013 Twitter has more than 200 million active users.

To be continued…

The potential decline of the mind and memory

BrainYou know the arguments. We need to be concerned about what new technologies are doing to our minds. The idea that we have so much information available to us in a written form is creating “forgetfulness in learners’ because they are fundamentally forgoing the use of the memory”. We will trust external sources and do not seek to remember ideas, facts and so forth. We also need to have a level of scepticism about what is written down. What we read may be inaccurate, biased or blatantly untrue and therefore the written word has an inbuilt set of problems that we have to counter.

It may be surprising to learn that these cautionary thoughts belong to Plato who was expressing his concerns in the fourth century B.C. He was talking up oratory and didn’t want his students to become overly dependant upon the practise of writing, for the reasons outlined above.

It is funny to think that in 2017 we maintain the same concerns about what is the ability to access the answer to everything by ‘Googling it’ doing to our minds and memories? We also have to be discerning about on-line texts – and treat them with healthy scepticism. How little things have changed.