The Victorian Internet


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"In the XIX century there were no televisions, aeroplanes, computers, or spacecraft; neither were there antibiotics, credit cards, microwave ovens, compact discs, or mobile phones. There was, however, an Internet."
-- Tom Standage

Here is a speech I gave at a While42 Singapore event (cool French engineers alumni network)

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The Victorian Internet

  1. French Engineers Alumni Network Singapore #2 25/07/2013 @Savant Degrees By Mathieu François
  2. No source code today…
  3. What is the greatest communication disruption ever? …Internet? Since writing…
  4. This is the “Mother of all Networks”
  5. From New York to Paris: How long to send news?
  6. US Independence (1776) = 6 weeks It was before telegraph…
  7. Lincoln president election (1860) = 2 hours …It was after telegraph
  8. Kennedy president election (1960) = 1 second It was before Internet…
  9. Obama president election (2008) = 1 second …It was after Internet
  10. So, who is the greatest disruptor? Before 6 weeks 1 second After 2 hours Er… still 1 second, no change meh?
  11. I. The mother of all networks II. Hackers and geeks in the XIXth Century III. Internet revolution, really? 1865 vs 2013
  12. By the way, Telegraph is a French invention Optical telegraph used by Revolution and Napoleon Remind Minitel anyone?
  13. Remember, Internet = “Interconnected Networks”
  14. It’s fair to call it the “Victorian Internet”
  15. 2010 innovation: “How do I share my pictures online with my friends?
  16. 1860 innovation: “Let’s pull a 6,000 km telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean”
  17. Brunel, one of the crazy guys: his giant ship was reconverted for cable laying The “Death Star” of XIXth Century Watch TED “Tim Brown urges designers to think big” for more…
  18. Asia/Australia connection via Singapore and Penang Quizz: Why were they chosen as Telegraph hubs?
  19. Answer: Rubber Strategic commodity, used for the cable insulation
  20. Telegraph lasted only 1 century, but it changed everything!
  21. I. The mother of all networks II. Hackers and geeks in the XIXth Century III. Internet revolution, really? 1865 vs 2013
  22. There was an elitist hacker/geek culture among the Telegraph operators community Your ability was evaluated based on your speed and accuracy to send messages…
  23. Here is the most famous Telegraph hacker By the way, he is a real m***** f***** but this is another story
  24. The sysadmins of the Telegraph...
  25. … and pre-Internet nerds: Telegraphers in remote outposts often preferred on- line chat to socializing in real life with the locals
  26. A key difference : many operators were ladies T_T
  27. I. The mother of all networks II. Hackers and geeks in the XIXth Century III. Internet revolution, really? 1865 vs 2013
  28. “The Highway of Thought” was the more poetic surname of Telegraph Information Superhighway?
  29. The Internet Telegraph, by linking everyone in a worldwide network, was expected to promote peace and democracy World Peace Utopia?
  30. New Telegraph companies became the source of insane speculation Stock market bubble?
  31. AKA the “International Telegraph Union” (1865) Standards organizations?
  32. Dots and Dashes versus 1s and 0s Digital?
  33. Routers? Trunking? Telegraph wires to send short "texting" digital data Pneumatic tubes to send longer messages and small items (even cats!)
  34. During quiet times and after business hours, operators on-line would break out the IMs and chatrooms Online Chat?
  35. "Ordinarily an operator can tell a woman the moment he hears her working the wire […] He tells by her touch on the key. Women, as a rule, do not touch the key of their instruments as firmly as men do" Online Dating?
  36. Thomas Edison: “Most of the Tales of the Wires went unpublished because they were too rude or explicit” Online Sex?
  37. Online Wedding? 1840: the first online wedding, with the bride in Boston and the groom in New York
  38. 1,500 telegraph operators remotely attended the last telegraph ceremony for Samuel Morse Social Network?
  39. Banks could send money via telegraph wire, leading to the foundation of Western Union E-Commerce?
  40. One of the first MiM attacks: operators of an optical telegraph were bribed so they altered business transaction information Online Fraud?
  41. Users developed their own cryptic code of "smileys" and abbreviated words to solve network limitations Compression? Encryption?
  42. Lincoln used the telegraph to stay connected to the forces in the field in almost real time Online President?
  43. Last and most advanced telegraphy mechanism designed (Phelps, 1880) Multimedia?
  44. Telegraph was perceived as a major threat for newspapers… the number of current newspapers with “Telegraph” in their title proves the contrary Threat for newspapers industry?
  45. Epilog
  46. Not even digital, what a shame! 1880 The Telegraph Killer
  47. What if… Babbage’s computers had gone into widespread use?
  48. …Steampunk would not be a SciFi genre
  49. Sources 1/2 • Must-Read! • Great historical analogy book written with a delightful British style
  50. Sources 2/2 • Mother Earth Mother Board – (looong) but very insightful article about the cabling industry challenges by the Science-Fiction author Neal Stephenson • How the World Was One: Towards the Tele- Family of Man – Sir Arthur C. Clarke elaborated similar theories • Plyojump - Computer History • Mr. Lincoln's T-Mails
  51. Questions? Dinner / Makan ?