History of the Internet: Reflections

Last Friday,  The Guardian published a series of interesting articles about the history of the Internet. On October 29th, 1969 the first two computers were connected between the University of California and the Stanford  Research Institute (several hundred miles) through an IMP (interface message processor) allowing the 2 users to login and type back and forth. While the actual date of the birth of the internet is debatable, this event arguably set the stage for everything that has followed.

There is some great reading in the publication and it certainly caused a trip down memory lane for me. Here are some of the things I remember using computers since the ‘early days’:

  • learning to program on a Sinclair computer, made by Timex
  • writing software for students on a Commodore PET
  • teaching introductory programming to grade 10 math students
  • the Icons – the first networked computers we had a school (10 MG file server)
  • learning to connect remotely to the file server (crashed more than it worked in those days)
  • music software on the Atari and Amiga computer systems (with MIDI capability)
  • buying my first 300 baud modem (and I still like hearing that ‘connect’ sound)
  • doing a WLU hosted stock market simulation with students (involved up/downloading)
  • WEIR – the Writers in Electronic Residence project
  • 1200 baud modems
  • the CHIMO communications system
  • the first library PAC machines, DOS interface
  • the first text based Mozilla browser
  • groups of computers sharing a single modem connection
  • all night long downloads, praying the connection was not interrupted
  • hosting and running a Bulletin Board System (BBS), an early email exchange system
  • writing software for my brother’s surveying company and using those early email methods to send the code
  • the early MACs, PCs, the first GUI interfaces
  • and the list goes on ….

One could write a list the size of a book, but I won’t.  Many of us are familiar with the portion of the journey over the last dozen years or so. Reading the publication somehow jolted my memories of the early telecommunication days – exciting times for sure. In those days, a lot of energy was spent just getting things to work. Who knew that we would end up where we are today:  a global community, fibre optic networking, web 2.0, free computer to computer video/audio connections, amazing collaboration tools, overwhelming information online which is doubling rapidly …. truly amazing.

Best of all, we have access to these amazing tools and a global community to impact on the educational process. Independent of your age, you are living at time when the opportunity to learn, connect and collaborate is nothing short of amazing. Embrace it!

~ Mark