After surviving the diaper years intact and being forced into puberty via pornography at a very young age and although still not old enough to drink, the World Wide Web celebrates its 20th birthday today. Please join me below the fold as I reflect on how the WWW has been a part of my life and feel free to share your memories in the comments.
March 2009: 20 years of the web
Twenty years ago this month, something happened at CERN that would change the world forever: Tim Berners-Lee handed a document to his supervisor Mike Sendall entitled "Information Management : a Proposal". "Vague, but exciting" is how Mike described it, and he gave Tim the nod to take his proposal forward. The following year, the World Wide Web was born. This week, it's a pleasure and an honour for us to welcome the Web's inventor back to CERN to mark this special anniversary at the place the Web was born.
There was a party, but I wasn't invited.
A celebration will take place in the Globe on the afternoon of the 13th March from 14:00 to 17:30. It will consist of short presentations from Web veterans, a keynote speech from Tim Berners-Lee with a demonstration of the original browser, and a series of presentations from people that Tim believes are doing exciting things with the Web today.
It is ironic, but Berners-Lee is neither rich or famous:
via Scientific American
Tim Berners-Lee has remained unknown to the public because he has never gotten rich or famous from the Web. He likes money just fine, but is driven by his larger dream. Every dot.com millionaire, every person who's found a nugget of information searching the Web, owes a debt to Berners-Lee, but he's not looking to collect or be lionized. "I'm happy to let others play the role of royalty," the ego-free inventor says. "Just as long as they don't try to control the Web."
Also from Scientific American; some fun facts:
Early names for the Web:
—Information Mesh, Mine of Information, The Information Mine (But Berners-Lee thought the acronym, TIM, was too egocentric!)
I'm glad that one didn't last!
Content of first Web page:
—The CERN phone directory
All that work for a list of phone numbers?!?!
My first experience with a computer was in the spring of 1977 when I was one of 6 students who enrolled in the first computer class offered at our high school durng my senior year. The teacher had secured the only personal computer available to the school district. He was so excited about his new toy and his enthusiasm spread throughout our small class. I don't remember very much about the actual computer. The screen was large and only text appeared on the screen. The language we learned was FORTRAN. All I remember is using a lot of "goto" commands. Our class project was writing a program for a calendar.
I entered college in the fall of 1978 and enrolled in their entry level math computer class. Unexpectedly, I was thrown back into the dark ages. There were no personal computers available to undergraduates. Everyone on campus had to share the one and only mainframe computer that took up the entire basement of the theater building. Instead of using a keyboard, everyone had to use punch cards (my first experience with "hanging chads") to run their programs. There was only one assignment for the entire class; writng a program for a calendar. I was estatic because I already knew how to write it, but soon I was a stressed out maniac. The program took like a 1,000 punch cards of commands. There was always a long line at the one and only location to drop off your stack of cards to run your program on the mainframe computer. It could take as long as two weeks to get your results back. If one card was missing or out of sequence or if a card had a "hanging chad", the program would not work. It took me 5 tries to finally get a successful printout of a calendar and I barely made it by the deadline. I was so stressed out by the whole experience that I never took another computer class.
I never touched another computer until the spring of 1989 when I entered the management training program at Toys R Us. When I arrived at my first training store, they had just received a new personal computer that was devoted entirely to corporate to store and store to store communications. it was connected to a very large dot matrix computer. They also had a personal computer that was devoted to counting tills, tabulating deposits and communicating totals to the district and corporate offices. POS register computers along with a store mainframe were already installed.
In 1996 I began working for a family business that owned two seasonal tourist gift shops in Alaska. My first 2 months were spent working out of their winter home in St. Louis. The new big store, which I was hired to manage, already had a year old POS computer system, but the computers in Skagway, Alaska were not connected to the STL office. The original store was still operating on hand written records and old fashioned cash registers. One of my first projects was transferring the original store's inventory data into a new proram that the owner's son had written and installed on an Apple laptop. With help from the son and a lot of trial and error on my own part, I was able to learn the basics of the McIntosh computer and worksheets. That was the last time that I touch an Apple computer, the old store went to POS the next season . Once I was up in Alaska, I got the crash course on the Microsoft supported Smart Retailer program that was installed on the computers. It was a snap for me to learn and I became the "go-to" expert rather quickly.
In 2000 I finally got my first experience on the WWW when Skagway got internet access, the owner's expanded stores in Alaska and upgraded computers with internet connected including access to the computer's in the winter STL office. I was able to teach myself Microsoft Word & Excel well enough to fool everybody into thinking that I knew what I was doing.
I finally got my first email address, but I only ever used it for business purposes.
In the fall of 2003, I finally took the plunge and bought my first computer, a Dell laptop (which I am using to write this diary) and I got my first personal email address, which I rarely use. Most of my emails are from politicians and progressive groups asking for money.
In 2005, I discovered Daily Kos via Air America and in 2006 I wrote my first diary when I was able to teach myself the basics of HTML.
I do not believe that I am a typical web user: I never had an AOL email address, I have never shopped at Amazon, I have never bought or sold on EBAY, I don't do internet porn, I have never instant messaged, I am not on Facebook and I do not have a MySpace page.
I spend the majority of my time on my computer visiting newspaper websites and political & news blogs which has empowered me in ways that I can barely explain and therefore I joyously proclaim ...
Happy Birthday WWW! And a big thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you have changed my life and given me access to the world.