The Birth of the Internet

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The following is a presentation I gave to Karen McGrane's History of Interaction Design class at SVA's Interaction Design MFA program in October of 2009.

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  • · I’m going to talk about
    · The Consumer Internet
    · How it came to be (As Well As)
    · Multiple faces & mental models it assumed on its way to the public
    · Snapshot of Internet 2005
    · Assume larger now
    · Wasn’t Always This Big
  • · Wasn’t always center of media attention
    · Run by guys in nice suits
    · holding cool gadgets
    · flying around in private jets (Larry Page, Sergey Brin)
    · Internet wasn’t always meant for them
    · Wasn’t always meant for us
    · Initially...
  • · Meant for these guys
    · This is the pit crew of world’s first network, ARPAnet
  • · One guy in particular, Larry Roberts
    · Mastermind of ARPAnet, which essentially became Internet
    · Between 1966 & 1973 worked for ARPA
    · Division of Pentagon
    · experimented with computer networking solutions
    · Goal: share Data & resources between distant mainframes
  • · This is one of his early network sketches of ARPAnet
    · Went online October 29, 1969
    · Terminals set up between UCLA & SRI (Stanford Research Institute)
    · After the first test, they immediately began to expand
  • · lots of technical hurdles to overcome
    · one of biggest probs solved by Donald Davies
    · Issue: simultaneous information transfer would overload lines
    · System crash
    · Network disaster
    · so...
  • · Created an automated system to
    · Break down transmissions into pieces or packets
    · traffic them down hundreds of routes
    · & reassemble them at the other end
    · Dubbed it Packet Switching
    · so effective, still basically in use today
  • · Most pervasive uses for the Internet born here...
    · First Emails sent
    · First online community: MsgGroup - email group formed just to talk about email
    · First online game: called “Adventure”, created by Will Crowther
    · It was arguably first thing to ever go “viral”
    · Spirit was open, collaborative and community driven
    · Which are all key elements of internet today
    · But only universities could afford access
    · Would soon change
  • · In 1978 an Ohio Life Insurance Co.
    · Came up with idea to create their own network
    · lease their extra computing power to people w/ home computers
    · totally revolutionary idea, but...(click)
    · Marketing team thought it was a joke (click)
    · dubbed it “Schlock Time-Sharing”
    · That’s how CompuServe, world’s first consumer network provider
    · or schlock time-share, was born
  • · 1978, First offered email to people with home computers
    · 1980, launched world’s first Instant Messaging program: CB Simulator
  • · 1978, First offered email to people with home computers
    · 1980, launched world’s first Instant Messaging program: CB Simulator
  • · 1978, First offered email to people with home computers
    · 1980, launched world’s first Instant Messaging program: CB Simulator
  • · 1978, First offered email to people with home computers
    · 1980, launched world’s first Instant Messaging program: CB Simulator
  • In his book, Rewired, David Hudson says...
  • · CompuServe failed to ignite widespread public interest
    · Their command line interface was too abstract for most users
    · Eventually had a Menu system - even that described as “Labyrinthine”
    · Peak usage: 380,000 subscribers
    · Still, they were the market leaders for nearly 10 years
    · Think of CompuServe as a kind of Online Library
    · One part information storage
    · One part social meeting place
  • · 1990, IBM & Sears teamed up to take on CompuServe
    · Launched first graphical online service, Prodigy
    · Content heavily editorialized
    · No Consumer authored content
    · No Instant Messaging
    · No Bulletin Boards
    · Very limited Email
    · & No community
    · If had to apply MM: like an online magazine
  • · Did have games!

    · Prodigy, aimed at novice end of market
    · It was smart strategy considering the confusing nature of CompuServe
    · Only connected with 465,000 subscribers
    · Graphics made service extremely SLOW
    · & w/o community people had little reason to return often
    · Prodigy had simplified online navigation
    · but sacrificed the key elements that made networks attractive in 1st place
  • · Enter AOL
    · AOL launched shortly after Prodigy in 1991
    · Lagged behind initially
    · but had a wider vision for its services
    · Launched massive direct mail onslaught of America
  • · Gave away so many “Free Trial” disks, people wallpapered their homes
    · The aim was to lower consumer entry cost to nothing
    · Succeeded
    · AOL had slicker interface than Prodigy & more services
    · Took the entertainment & content features of Prodigy
    · & community features of CompuServe
  • · packaged it in an easy to use interface
    · in process, created one of world’s most recognized sound bytes (click)
    · Email, chat rooms, IM
    · download files & articles
    · games, music, movies, news
    · but still little ability to author content
    · At their peak - 27 million subscribers
    · public had finally adopted online services on a massive scale
    · but AOL wouldn’t hold them for long
  • · Meanwhile at CERN in Switzerland...
  • · Tim Berners-Lee was thinking about the non-linearity of human memory
    · Imagined a uniform content & linking system that mimicked the human mind
    · So a document created on one computer, would look same on any computer
    · TBL played around with idea of non-linear information exploration
    · Had idea for documents where text, links, images, sound, & videos could co-exist
    · This was the birth of our modern concept of a webpage and the WWW
    · Created concept of the “Browser” to read & navigate the web of documents
  • · First public browser, MOSAIC, released in 1993
    · Genius of browser is it hid complex functions of internet
    · behind easily readable, easily writable documents
    · No more special knowledge would be needed to “surf” the internet or mine information
    · HTTP, the World Wide Web, and Browsers, put the agency of the web in hands of its inhabitants, us
    · Now same spirit of openness, community, and self-author-ship
    · born with ARPAnet
    · part of our everyday lives
    · no longer a division between academic internet & consumer internet
    · it’s just the internet
  • The Birth of the Internet

    1. 1. The Consumer Internet Partial map of the Internet, opte.org Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    2. 2. Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    3. 3. ARPAnet Where Wizards Stay Up Late, Hafner & Lyon Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    4. 4. Larry Roberts Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com Where Wizard’s Stay Up Late, Hafner & Lyon
    5. 5. Roberts’s Network Sketch Where Wizard’s Stay Up Late, Hafner & Lyon Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    6. 6. Donald Davies Where Wizard’s Stay Up Late, Hafner & Lyon Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    7. 7. Packet Switching How the Web was Born, Gillies & Cailliau Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    8. 8. A Number of Firsts Where Wizard’s Stay Up Late, Hafner & Lyon Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    9. 9. The Birth of the Consumer Internet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PDP-10_1090.jpg Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    10. 10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PDP-10_1090.jpg Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    11. 11. http://www.computerworld.com/ Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    12. 12. http://www.computerworld.com/ Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    13. 13. “ In these days of live audio Internet telephony, all that has become rather quaint. But at the time, it was exciting to chat with people halfway around the world either for free or next to nothing. That, ” however, was only half the thrill. The other half was that it was on your computer. David Hudson, Rewired Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    14. 14. Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com http://www.inquisitr.com http://farm4.static.flickr.com
    15. 15. The Smartest Kid in the Room Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    16. 16. The Smartest Kid in the Room (It’s a small room) Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    17. 17. Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com Online As Entertainment http://www.vintagecomputing.com
    18. 18. Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    19. 19. The First (and last) Online Empire Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    20. 20. Marketing at it’s Finest http://www.computerworld.com/ Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    21. 21. http://www.mikerichardson.name Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    22. 22. http://www.mikerichardson.name Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    23. 23. The Internet Strikes Back Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    24. 24. The Internet Strikes Back Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    25. 25. Tim Berners-Lee How the Web was Born, Gillies & Cailliau Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    26. 26. http://images.appleinsider.com Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com
    27. 27. http://images.appleinsider.com Copyright 2009, Russ Maschmeyer / StrangeNative.com

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