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20th Anniversary of the Dawn of Dot-Com

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the fanfare-of-woodwinds dept.

The Internet 94

btempleton writes "It was 20 years ago today when I posted to USENET the public launch of ClariNet, my electronic newspaper service delivered over the Internet. By finding a way around the NSFNet acceptable use policy, ClariNet was the first business founded to use the Internet as its platform for business, and the era of the 'dot-com' had begun. For the anniversary I have written a history of the founding of ClariNet and early internet business, which outlines how it all came down. Readers may also enjoy the included anecdote about what I term 'M5' reliability, where the news system was so robust that, like the M5 computer on Star Trek, even those authorized to do so were unable to shut it off; and a story of the earliest large SF eBook effort."

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Nonsense! (3, Funny)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258801)

It's all just a series of tubes!

Re:Nonsense! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259019)

Fucking your dead great grandmother! It's not a truck!

So we should blame you? (4, Funny)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258825)

So in other words, we should ultimately blame you for the commercialization and spamming of the internet?

I'm not sure you should have told us that...

Re:So we should blame you? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259055)

This guy, whom you speak of, is Brad Templeton. He just so happens to also be the Chairman of the Board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I think we owe him (and the EFF) a little gratitude for sticking up for all of us who want to use the internet in free and open ways, and NOT the manner in which corporations would prefer you to.

I'm kinda glad he helped start the commercialization of the internet. And glad that he is also working hard to protect it as a medium of information exchange that we all value so much.

Re:So we should blame you? (4, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259271)

Perhaps, but he sure was annoying back then.

Re:So we should blame you? (3, Interesting)

shri (17709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262261)

BUT, in 1989 or 1990 (when I first got access through Turing on virginia.edu), ANY personality flaws would have been ignored for access to RHF and Clari. Not that I know Brad, but seriously, at any point in time we've all annoyed people. As long as they remember you for something other than the annoyances, it does not matter in my books.

Re:So we should blame you? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270001)

+1 "Oh Snap!"

Re:So we should blame you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28264037)

Serious Coward is Serious.

Re:So we should blame you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259093)

And I invented the mortgage-ad-with-dancing people! Patent pending, patent pending, patent pending!

Re:So we should blame you? (3, Funny)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259187)

So in other words, we should ultimately blame you for the commercialization and spamming of the internet?

Wrong guy [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So we should blame you? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259369)

Dude, most of us owe our jobs to the commercialization of the Internet!

I remember using ClariNet to read Dilbert before it was widely syndicated. That was back when it was still funny.

Obligtory (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258827)

And, as then, this is the 20th anniversary of my first post.

Sgt. Salt (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258841)

"It was 20 years ago today..."

Beatle plagiarist! I'm tellin' the RIAA!

Re:Sgt. Salt (3, Informative)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258853)

I put that in quotes in the story, but the /. editors took 'em out. They also took changed "the dot-com" to just dot-com in the title which reads wrong to me, but who knows?

Re:Sgt. Salt (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258937)

Yip, that happens. I can understand why: many younglings wouldn't get the joke. However, just be glad your story got thru. My story rejection rate hasn't been this bad since my dating years.

Re:Sgt. Salt (1)

sys.stdout.write (1551563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259171)

My story rejection rate hasn't been this bad since my dating years

Improperly phrased date rejection joke? Or implication that your story rejection rate hasn't been so bad for a long time, relying on the reader's knowledge of your dating history?

We report, you decide.

Re:Sgt. Salt (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260933)

My story rejection rate hasn't been this bad since my dating years.

Ask the Medicaid doctor to change your prescription. The little blue pills work wonders.

so you're the one, huh? (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258845)

By finding a way around the NSFNet acceptable use policy, ClariNet was the first business founded to use the Internet as its platform for business, and the era of the 'dot-com' had begun.

Oh, so *you're* the asshole who started the commercialization, by shady interpretation of a use policy you agreed to, no less.

I bet next you'll tell us that you're also the asshole who sent the first spam.

jk... mostly.

No, he's not. (4, Informative)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259023)

This guy [wikipedia.org] is.

Re:No, he's not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259225)

You mean the Wikipedia article which has, as reference 1 to prove that Gary Thuerk is the first email spammer, an interview done by Brad?

Re:No, he's not. (3, Informative)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259267)

Check the first reference on that wikipedia article. I'm the guy who first interviewed him, so of course I know about him. But DEC, while it did that ad over E-mail, was not what we would consider a dot-com.

That's not exactly correct, either. (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259417)

"But DEC...was not what we would consider a dot-com

It was the first commercial company to be connected to the Internet.

Re:That's not exactly correct, either. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259711)

Ummmm...BBN [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:No, he's not. (1)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263341)

Your website [templetons.com] defines "dot-com" as "a company born to use the internet as its platform for business". So... Usenet counts as "the internet", but email doesn't? I don't really care either way, since this sounds like a silly pub debate over whether golf or NASCAR are "real" sports. I just can't help but point out the ego-serving fact that the guy on the barstool here happens to be a NASCAR driver.

Re:No, he's not. (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263665)

Bravo! My thoughts exactly, even as soon as I read the first sentence of the summary.

        -dZ.

Re:No, he's not. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28265973)

Your website defines "dot-com" as "a company born to use the internet as its platform for business". So... Usenet counts as "the internet", but email doesn't?

Even weirder, clarinet founded in 1989, which distributed wire service articles over usenet for a modest fee, counts as "the first", but UUNet founded in 1987, which started operations as a usenet distribution hub, does not count.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUNET [wikipedia.org]

Re:No, he's not. (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272631)

UUNET certainly counts, and has a section in the article. I simply divide early net business into two categories -- selling the pipes themselves (which uunet is a pioneer in) and using them. There had to be dot-net companies before there could be dot-com companies. Even before uunet there were companies selling equipment for internet connection as a business, and there were the mostly non-profit regionals selling internet access to schools and labs. UUNet (version 2, the for-profit one) sold pipes and dial-up connections without the AUP on them, paving the way for dot-com companies to arise.

Re:No, he's not. (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28313211)

Are you claiming that DEC was "a company born to use the internet as its platform for business"? DEC - the (not a) computer company founded in 1957?

Re:No, he's not. (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262403)

But was it himself who sent it, or his hordes of zombies? Or perhaps his mechanical Thuerk?

Giant Douchebag (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258859)

Yes, yes you are.

Holy Heck! (2, Interesting)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258875)

It was in 1989 that I had my first account, at OCF.berkeley.edu... I posted something to comp.sys.amiga trying to get consensus as to whether or not it was a good idea to spend $300 on a 20 MB external HD for my A500. Those were the days. I didn't realize 20 years had passed.

sigh.

Re:Holy Heck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259833)

I built my own interface to allow the use of AT drives and controllers with the Amiga...this was based on a published design that used XT controllers, but I changed the interface to 16 bits and rewrote the formatter and device driver. Didn't cost $300, unless you count my time in, in which case it was probably a lot more expensive!

Newbie! (1)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28267875)

By 1989, I'd already been posting on the internet for 5 years! Back then my email address was:

...{ decvax!linus | seismo!harvard }!axiom!gts

That is, decvax was a well known location so you'd have to route through all the machines from you to decvax (which you'd presumably know), then on to linus, then axiom, then my account. If you didn't know how to get to decvax, you could also start at seismo. There were about 2 dozen well-known locations, and lists were published on how to route between them.

When I tell the kids today that at one time email addresses didn't have '@' signs, they think I'm cracked. Was it the good old days? Not really, but there was no spam!

Re:Newbie! (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28288985)

tell them '!' is pronounced "bang" and really watch their heads spin

let's see how long 'first' lasts... (4, Funny)

Josh Coalson (538042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258891)

the best way I know to find out you were not first at something is to post on slashdot that you were.

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (3, Interesting)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260403)

That's actually part of my goal. Sure, I wanted to tell the story of the part I played, but I am genuinely interested in documenting the history of that time. The memory blurs after 20 years so I would like to hear more stories told.

You won't get an answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28262697)

This is Slashdot. We'd rather whine endlessly about you claiming that you were the first than actually come up with anything to show you weren't.

Re:You won't get an answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28263503)

(Citation needed)

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262947)

So you were the first to commercialize porn online? Sir, let me shake your hands.

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263403)

Uh, just the left one would be fine actually.

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28260759)

just like all the other non-first first posts.

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28261873)

Good point.

For instance, when was the first *.com domain registered? Wouldn't that be the "dawn of dot-com?"

Re:let's see how long 'first' lasts... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28266055)

15-Mar-1985 SYMBOLICS.COM

http://www.iwhois.com/oldest/ [iwhois.com]

The oldest company I am personally aware of, that as of today is still in business as a distinct entity, is

09-Jan-1986 XEROX.COM

Tooting One's Own Horn (4, Insightful)

courtarro (786894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258903)

This story is all well and interesting, but I imagine it's impossible to prove that you're the first business to make money exclusively over the internet. You might be "one of the first", but to go all the way to the birth of my business represents the birth of dot-com is a bit vain, no?

Re:Tooting One's Own Horn (3, Interesting)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259063)

I'm happy to include others claims, and I do mention a variety of other companies. But there's a pretty good chance it was the first, because the flamewars over it were pretty much assuming that, and I know I was the one to convince Steve Wolff that it would be OK to do a business over the internet sold to universities and labs. So whoever might have been doing it earlier (which is entirely possible) kept a low profile, but I would be interested to document their story. Perhaps it's a bit vain, but what of it?

Re:Tooting One's Own Horn (1)

lowen (10529) | more than 5 years ago | (#28264115)

I remember those flamewars.... Almost as bad as the Great Renaming.

Re:Tooting One's Own Horn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28264297)

Perhaps it's a bit vain, but what of it?

Vanity is not usually considered a positive trait.

Re:Tooting One's Own Horn (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28276957)

>> Perhaps it's a bit vain, but what of it?

Vain. I has it.

          -dZ.

M5 was not robust (2, Interesting)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258907)

M5 suffered from the same megalomania and psychosis that its creator, Dr. Richard Daystrom, suffered from. This was the result of Daystrom having used his own 'memory engrams' in M5's programming.

Re:M5 was not robust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259053)

That does translate to robustness though, as the megalomania and psychosis is intrinsic in being able to delude yourself that quite frankly, it wasn't your fault that things went bad, you're really a star, and it's everybody else who only needs to listen to your superior wisdom.

Believe it or not, it's all about the high self-esteem to the point of delusion.

Re:M5 was not robust (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262427)

M5 suffered from the same megalomania and psychosis that its creator, Dr. Richard Daystrom, suffered from.

Maybe my monitor isn't correctly calibrated (or the beer from yesterday isn't correctly decalibrated), but I read that as "MS suffered ..."

"I'm gonna' fucking kill ...", etc. ;-)

I remember ClariNet (2, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258913)

I remember ClariNet. I remember thinking, "why in God's name should I pay for something that I can get for free?"

But it turns out, there are people who will do that, and the rest is history.

Re:I remember ClariNet (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259573)

I remember ClariNet. I remember thinking, "why in God's name should I pay for something that I can get for free?"

Some of us always did pay. 20 years ago I was well out of school and paying something like $10/hr to GEnie at home for 2400 bps on my Commodore -- more to CompuServe.

Re:I remember ClariNet (3, Informative)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259685)

I hear what you're saying, but ClariNet wasn't an ISP, it offered wire news services for a fee. It means you could flip on your terminal, fire up the Telebit, dial into your service provider, (or work, as may be) and then, for a fee, access news stories from wire services. As opposed to, for instance, turning on the radio. Utterly redundant now, but it was all the rage, sometimes literally, back then.

Re:I remember ClariNet (1)

gv250 (897841) | more than 5 years ago | (#28261729)

I remember ClariNet. I remember thinking "rec.humor.funny has much better jokes."

Business models? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262435)

"why in God's name should I pay for something that I can get for free?" But it turns out, there are people who will do that

Ssssh! The RIAA can hear us...

Tomatoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258919)

Hey, what happened to the story about the THC-laced tomatoes?

Re:Tomatoes (1, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258979)

It was bullshit.. which anyone with half a clue could see.

Slashdot editors doing editing, shocking I know.

Re:Tomatoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259043)

I dunno what happened to "Company Produces THC Tomatoes". You're not alone, and you're not dreaming. I saw it in the RSS feed for that story. There's nothing in the firehose or google news search about it.

Perhaps someone did some time travel and erased the existence of said tomatoes so that all knowledge about them were pulled?

Interestingly, I can find some results on Bing - showing that they're more relevant than Google in this case.

http://thecrit.com/2009/06/03/company-makes-any-plant-produce-thc-and-the-tomatoes-are-especially-yummy/ [thecrit.com]
http://americanbuddhist.net/dna-scientists-thc-gene-easily-transferred-tomato-cucumber-and-other-common-garden-plants [americanbuddhist.net]

Re:Tomatoes (2, Insightful)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259311)

"It's a very simple process," she says. "Anyone can do it. We plan to start selling the spray - 'Genie Mist' - in a matter of weeks. One bottle will sell for five dollars and be capable of treating 6,000 seedlings."

Act now! And that's not all! Call within the next 5 minutes, and we'll DOUBLE your order for FREE! That's 12,000 seeds! It's fun for the whole family! Look at grandma! She loves tomatoes! MMM MMM! But wait, there's more! For a limited time only, we'll throw in three flavor sprays to make the tomato actually taste good! Groovy Grape! Outrageous Orange! And Crazy Cap'n Crunchberries! ACT NOW!!!!

Yeah, yeah... (1)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258987)

He's lying, of course. Look at his UID (149110), for crying out loud!

Self-promotional much? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258989)

How about someone other than Brad himself telling us this is the first dot-com ever? Or would that ruin things by proving that he's fudging the details?

Re:Self-promotional much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259687)

This is the first dot-com ever.

First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259011)

Seems to me I got a catalog from JT Toys (now JT's Stockroom at www.stockroom.com) in 1988. Sex is always first.

Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259239)

Perhaps it's a quibble, and of course we all favour the definition that makes our point, but I don't think that was a company created for the internet, which is what I view a dot-com as, and more a company with an existing business that made use of the internet to facilitate it. I would be curious to see reports of porn for sale via FTP, or a company that sold porn only via E-mail.

Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259935)

So, Amazon isn't a dot-com under your definition because they don't do everything via email or ftp? It's easy to be first when you narrow the playing field to just yourself.

Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260103)

Amazon is certainly a dot-com. It was created for the internet, it sells only over the internet.

What do you think it means to be a "dot-com?" I would be interested in other definitions. I discuss the most obvious ones (just having a domain in the .com TLD) or doing some business over the internet (which goes back to BBN) but I would be interested in your alternate definition.

Who's on first? (1)

aaronrp (773980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268661)

I guess the real question is, what difference does it make in the long run whether ClariNet was "the first company to use the Internet as a commercial distribution mechanism," which nobody seems to be disputing, or "the first dot-com"? ClariNet was one of many Internet pioneers.

Being first is overrated anyway. Maybe those of us who were laid off after the Individual-Desktop Data merger could be considered the very first victims of the dot-com bust...

Re:First, Brad? What about J. T. Toys? (1)

JStegmaier (1051176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260263)

I imagine he mentioned only FTP or E-mail because in those days there was no World Wide Web, which is what Amazon uses for their business now. For graphical files, you'd have to have transferred them to your computer to view them at the time, meaning (for the most part) FTP or E-mail.

Decline of Usenet (3, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259133)

Oh, so I can add you to my list?
  • 1989: ClariNet published
  • 1991: First pornographic video binary [estimated]
  • 1993: Eternal September
  • 1994: Canter & Siegal
  • 1995: DejaNews

Damn you. Damn you all. I miss usenet.

Re:Decline of Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259965)

Who did the first make.money.fast posting? Ah, the good old daze.

Re:Decline of Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28260335)

Damn you. Damn you all. I miss usenet.

2009. Some fucktard posts a 180-gigabyte .rar full of of MP3z... in one day. 1800-segments-of-100MB-each, 500,000+ posts. Unless you want all 5,000 albums, the entire download is a waste of bits.

Eternal September isn't over. Not by a long shot.

I've seen some dumb shit, but today takes the cake. The Green Card Lawyers were tame by comparison.

Re:Decline of Usenet (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28261483)

1991: First pornographic video binary

Where does that come from? I was watching (very poor quality) porn video on my C64 in the early 80's. The good stuff came in the mid/late 80's with the Amiga. All this this way before 1991 and it wouldn't surprise me if there was even older stuff.

Re:Decline of Usenet (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28277007)

I think he meant through UseNet. BBS downloads do not count, unless you were receiving pr0n through FidoNet.

      -dZ.

andsomethingofvaluewaslost (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259147)

Well, it was nice while it lasted.

NSF (2, Funny)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259671)

... so these Non-Suitable-For pictures and videos started in the 80ies!

Tone of post and website... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28260065)

....utterly self-aggrandizing in a way that's pretty close to pathological (I'd want a bit more face time to see if the author is this insufferable in person;) far more useful as a psychological study than a technological insight.

Some things never change... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28260269)

Good to see some things are eternally consistent. Brad is still trying to convince anyone who will listen he's The Most Important Person On The Internet. As it was in the ancient days, so it is today.

I remember ClariNet (having been on the net for a couple of years). I remember the bullshit megalomania. I remember the bright flameout. I remember all the subsequent, desperate attempts to to portray the whole thing as vastly more important than it was.

If *everyone* who comes after you does it better than you do, maybe you really aren't that innovative.

Always a pleasue to visit Brad's site (2, Informative)

HKcastaway (985110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260293)

The history, t his blog. Well worthwhile site. I find looking at his panoramic photos very relaxing.

Yeahh I know my post is not relevant.

It just ain't fair! :-P (1)

bessie (212155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260945)

I'm an Old Programmer, too, and was introduced to the ArpaNet around the same time; had an adm3a terminal and a Ven-Tel 300 baud acoustic coupler loaned to me, while still a teen in highchool, but a friendly "free computing" promoter guy at UC Santa Cruz; years and years of watching all this stuff happen... and I never got rich! What'd I do wrong? D'oh!

Where'd I put my beard and suspenders? Damn kids, get offa my lawn!

- Tim

aka:

---> Tim Bessie ----- {ucbvax,dual}!unisoft!tim
---> Unisoft Systems; 739 Allston Way; Berkeley, CA 94710
---> (415) 644-1230 TWX II 910 366-2145

Re:It just ain't fair! :-P (1)

bessie (212155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260965)

typo: "loaded to me... BY a friendly..."

- Tim

Re:It just ain't fair! :-P (1)

bessie (212155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28261283)

GAAAAH! "loaned to me... by a friendly..."

You can tell I'm old, caintcha? :-)

- Tim

Re:It just ain't fair! :-P (3, Funny)

thoughtspace (1444717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262233)

Not typos, just those bloody bit errors on your acoustically coupled 300 baud modem

Re:It just ain't fair! :-P (1)

bessie (212155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262963)

I used to stick a cassette recorder next to the acoustic coupler, and pull the phone slightly out of it to get a good recording.

Then, later, I would play the tape back to the coupler to review my session.

Especially fun was hearing the tape play both the coupler's signal for a character, and hear my physical keypress, at the same time, while watching what I had typed magically appear on the screen.

Pretty good low-tech fun, for the times. :-)

- Tim

Ah, 1989, I remember Clarinet (3, Interesting)

ljhiller (40044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28262073)

1989 was also the year I got out of the IBM360 / Bitnet ghetto and got a real unix account with real IP/TCP connections. Clarinet. The was always the server I kept seeing references to, but never found out what was there because they expected me to pay to look.

This should have come from someone else (2, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263449)

I think that claiming a "dot-com" four years prior to the initial release of NCSA Mosaic [wikipedia.org] is absurd. If we're going to contort definitions THAT far, then the first dot-com was probably on Prodigy or Compuserve or maybe even BBS'es in the 1970's.

While I respect and appreciate this post contributor's involvement in the EFF... this particular conversation seems like an awfully self-serving attempt to shoehorn "inventor of the dot-com" onto a resume, a la Al Gore and his infamous "creation of the Internet". Templeton COULD have a claim to this title, but it would feel far more legitimate if he had someone else making the "nomination" as opposed to all the extremely vigorous self-promotion.

There's a reason why Google's search-ranking algorithm works the way it does... because your legitimacy as a public figure depends on how many OTHER people are talking about you, rather than how many words you spew yourself. If you want to move to the top of the heap, you need to use a link farm (i.e. having some other people write stuff like this to Slashdot on your behalf).

Re:This should have come from someone else (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28266281)

If Mosaic/HTML is the internet, then GNN, which I discuss, is a likely claimant. I don't think that HTML is the internet, though. And while I do expect some people to think that, I didn't expect it on /. as much.

Re:This should have come from someone else (2, Insightful)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28266701)

I believe we're all aware of the distinction between a web browser and "the internet", sir. The more contentious question seems to be the distinction between Usenet and a "dot-com".

You claim that that a business platform on TCP/IP-based Usenet is a "dot-com", whereas a business platform on TCP/IP-based email is not. In the hands of a disinterested third-party, this distinction has little merit. In the hands of a biased party in search of bragging rights, this distinction is an absurdity.

Not only do we understand your point here on Slashdot, but Slashdot may be the ONLY place where it would even be entertained and discussed. In the hands of everyone else on the Internet, a "dot-com" is a website... and this whole conversation is silly.

Re:This should have come from someone else (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28269971)

No, I would certainly agree that a business created for e-Mail would be a dot-com. Or for FTP. I believe the term, in common usage, means the companies that sprang up to use the internet. That would apply to any of the protocols. It would not simply mean a company that used e-mail in its business, as that's every company (and was the majority of companies on the net back then, whether they admitted it or not.) Every company is not a "dot com," now or then.

Which company or companies are you suggesting were founded to use internet E-mail as their business platform?

The reason I concluded there were none, both back then when I tracked this keenly, and now, in retrospect, is that this would have violated the AUP, unless the company sold only products in support of research and education. This doesn't mean they could not have existed, but they would have to have been semi-underground. ClariNet got around that by using the NSFNet to feed research and educational customers, and then having them feed local commercial customers USENET style. Once the data had arrived at the lab or school over the backbone, the NSF had no problem if it was copied on a regional network not funded by NSF. With email, this was more difficult. Not that people din't ignore that, but I am interested to know who you refer to.

Re:This should have come from someone else (1)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28270355)

I was referring to the comments earlier in this thread about Gary Thuerk (i.e. world's first spammer) at DEC. If you draw the distinction that a "dot-com" must be purely virtual or Internet-only, then you have a distinction that might hold water. It's still somewhat leaky, though... as even the most virtual of companies has operations in the physical world.

Re:This should have come from someone else (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272761)

Again, I would be interested to hear other people's definitions. The 90s are often referred to as the dot-com era now, and to me (regardless of whether ClariNet fits or not) this always was meant to refer to the explosion of companies (some real, some vapour) which arose to do business on the internet. The existing companies who simply started using the internet are not, as far as I can tell, what people refer to when they talk about this. Even though Microsoft and Apple might well be doing far more business on the internet than any upstart, they were not "dot-coms," precisely because they were not upstarts. The excitement of the dot-com era was about "Here's this new way to make a company, with better and cheaper ways to reach customers" that allowed small and brand new companies to rise to prominence quickly.

This is not to say that there was not a lot of excitement and talk about how existing companies would make use of the internet to grow or change their business. But there was, and is, a difference between that and the companies that used the internet to create their business. And you may not consider the difference between the two types of internet business to be all that significant, and thus not view ClariNet's position as possibly the earliest of the 2nd type as having any significance in the story.

It may seem like more self-promotion, but back in the early 90s the view was quite different. Back then every new internet book talked about the company, and the VCs were knocking on our doors rather than the other way around. It was exciting, but I incorrectly judged it to be overhyped, being too close to things. I think it's fair to claim it had a position of significance.

But mostly the anniversary showed up on my calendar and I thought it was time to write the story.

Re:This should have come from someone else (1)

ActusReus (1162583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274399)

After thinking on it further, I apologize for perhaps being overly harsh. It's not that I necessarily think your definition is a clear or easy-to-apply one... it's just that I don't have a better one offhand.

And here I thought that was Canter & Siegel (1)

whitroth (9367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28267079)

Before the Web existed, and I love his brag that he "got around" Fair Use... as though that were something to brag about.

Meanwhile, I thought the real opening gun was Canter & Siegel's Green Card spam of 1994

"Oh, no, there's no community here, this is just fallow ground that we can do whatever we want, wherever we want to do it".

                  mark

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