It is almost impossible to imagine life without the internet. Smart this, smart that, free wifi connection, Apple Pay – we are surround by, and absorbed into, the world wide web.
On October 29th 1969, Leonard Kleinrock, Charley Kline and Bill Duvall tried to send the word ‘login’ from a computer at UCLA to another at Stanford. After the L and O the connection failed but connection had been established and the internet was born.
From from those early pioneers, through Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, two of the “Fathers of the Internet” to Tim Berners-Lee, developer of the WWW we had 20 years on internet development. Not until 1991 did we, the public, have access to this, soon to be invaluable, construct.
This means that my eldest child is older that the www as we know it and my youngest has never existed without it.
I was trying to remember why I had a home computer before the internet was available – I had an Apple Macintosh 4/40 – games and word processing would have been the prime purposes. I made my wedding invitations on it so I must have had a printer. And, of course, I could create work documents and carry them around on a floppy. A 3.5 inch floppy would hold 1.44mb of data – no wonder we needed some new way to transfer files.
Of course, file transfer was not the only use of the internet. In 1995 Amazon came into being, followed in 1996 by Google (known then as backrub). By this point email was already more prolific than ‘real’ mail.
All of this with a dial-up connection – there is a sound that most of us between the ages of 35 and 65 will instantly recognise – anyone younger will only know it from re-runs of You’ve Got Mail. Even when we were online the speed was so slow that you could make a cup of tea whilst waiting for your emails to download. The idea of ‘streaming’ a film or a piece of music would have been laughable.
And now – well I am sat in a room where two streaming films are being watched, one on the TV and one on a laptop, someone else is playing an online game, people are chatting on forums and I am writing this blog. We complain about our broadband speed if things don’t happen instantly.
It was 47 years ago that Kleinrock tried to send that first message. My daughter and her friends can not imagine life without the internet, they have never had to. To be honest, I would struggle myself. Last week the campsite that I was staying on offered free wifi – not a hotel, a campsite – we were living in a tent and we had wifi. Walking through the streets of London my phone jumped from one wifi connection to another, with the occasional 4G blip. I am constantly connected. If I leave my phone on the sofa whilst I pop to the loo I worry that I might miss something – no need to worry though, my Apple watch will relay anything that happens.
Happy 47th birthday – internet – here’s to many more.