Internet at 40

I’ve just spent the afternoon with the wonderful celebration piece A people’s history of the internet: from Arpanet in 1969 to today that was published last Friday on the Guardian Technology website. What’s amazing to me is how recent it all really is! I started at Swansea University in 1985 and electronic communications was a difficult issue then. I remember the protocol wars of 1986 when JANET wanted to use X25 when the US was about to standardise on TCP/IP (I recall the our LIS wanted to toe the party line, but that Computer Science wanted to go the Internet route); I remember trawling Gopher for software to download using FTP and putting together tar files from shell archives of multiple USENET messages. I vaguely remember the public announcement of the World-Wide Web (1991), the emergence of the Mosaic browser on X-windows and the Mac, the arrival of the World-Wide Information Service at Swansea (created by our Own David Gill) and the first web site that I created for the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University (sadly not now to be found on the Way back machine). I also remember the University subcommittee that tried to standardize the University’s web sites and my complex, template driven system for creating my Department’s web pages (circa 1999) according to University Guidelines before there was a Content Management System.

But what’s really amazing, when you look at the time-line, is that the stuff that’s really important now, YouTube, twitter, Facebook, podcasting, RSS feeds, are all less than 10 years old. Even Blogger (1997) and Wikipedia (2001) are recent events. It makes me wonder what’s to come, and how will I continue to keep pace with it all!

It reminds me of the punchline to the Monty Python [four Yorkshiremen sketch]( “And you try and tell the young people of today that ….. they won’t believe you.”
Aye, tha’s reet aboot that lad!

Author: cpjobling

Senior lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University

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