December 9, 1968
Douglas Engelbart's Mother of All Demos
Engelbart's presentation at the Fall Joint Computer Conference demonstrated many of the base functionalities we see in modern computers. Intuitive navigation, graphics, windows, hypertext, word processing, the computer mouse, real-time collaboration, and more were shown in his 90 minute presentation. It was a glimpse at the future of computing.
CompuServe Goes Public
The ultimate factor in dial-up internet replacing the old BBS networks was the ability to contact multiple resources around the world through only one connection. Unlike the BBS where you had to place multiple calls and could initially connect to only one at a time, dial-up internet service providers allowed users to multitask on the internet, download data and continuing to surf the web simultaneously.
The first online service offering internet connectivity was CompuServe, in 1989. While access was limited initially, it offered e-mail services, thousands of forums that would replace the BBSs and become the predecessors to today's plethora of online discussion sites. Dial-up would begin the formation of the mass of online communities, files, and information that would form the world-wide-web.
In December of 1990 programmer and physicist Tim Berners-Lee completes three months of work prototyping the “WorldWideWeb.” This consisted of a server, web browser, URLs, HTTP, and HTML. He envisioned a web of useful information linked together that would grow as people created content.
Berners-Lee with the help of volunteers adapts his browser for use on common platforms (UNIX, Mac, PC). With the distribution of the browser to multiple platforms the Web takes off. Berners-Lee’s creation was now out of his hands.
Where We Are Today
Today, the internet allows us to keep up to date with the latest news from around the world. Everything from earthquakes, the stock market, and celebrity feuds, to cute pygmy goats playing soccer. We can upload videos and photos of birthdays, weddings, nights on the town, or indulge in some selfie sharing. All of this can be commented on, liked, reshared and added back to the infinite scroll of information. Data can be shared in seconds.
We no longer live in a world of letter writing where multiple thoughts are organized and poured out into pages. We can proceed thought by thought and not have to wait for a response in most cases. Written communication on the network can allow for instant gratification with no need to compose a day or even weeks worth of information into a single narrative.
Even with the ability to transmit sound and video instantly we are writing more than ever. In the course of a day we send over 6 billion text messages, 100 billion emails (not counting spam), make 28 billion Facebook status updates, 3 billion Google searches, 300 million Instagrams tagged, and 600 million tweets are composed. [top]