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World Wide Web Turns 20 Today

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the why-it-can-barely-vote-yet dept.

The Internet 169

girlmad writes "On 6 August 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, then a humble scientist at CERN, made the first page on the World Wide Web publicly available in a move that, unbeknown to him at the time, would change the world more quickly and profoundly than anything before or since." Wired also has a retrospective, noting that "[i]t can be hard now, even for many of us who regularly used the Internet before there was a World Wide Web, to remember that there was a time when the two terms weren’t considered nearly synonymous by the general public." For those who remember, what was your first experience with the Web per se? For me, it was in 1993 or early 1994, with an excited demonstration of Mosaic on Sun workstations in the Geology department at the University of Texas.

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Today ,let's take stock (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008540)

America's Web is threatened by Italian islamocommunist operatives, but most of all by the nefarious designs of Jim. If you want a free Internet, and a web safe for American Men, our wives and our children, we must stop the Jim-Italian alliance today.

Re:Today ,let's take stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008698)

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger...

I think you can infer the rest.

I agree. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008708)

Please attach a signed photograph of your penis. With such a weapon, Jim will be stopped once and for all.

It was one of many protocols in '91/'92 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008544)

During fall of 1991 and 1992, the World Wide Web ended up as one of many protocols one used to find information. At the time, you had multiple protocols -- gopher, FTP, heck, even some places like wuarchive had public NFS mounts. For searches, you had archie and veronics (for the gopherspace).

The first time I used a Web browser was on a NeXT, and the first Web server I used was MacHTTPD on a cast off Performa.

I feel old now...

Re:It was one of many protocols in '91/'92 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008900)

The upside is, access to information. It makes the world a "smaller place" in terms of communications.

The downside is, the same. Before the web, little "cells" of nutjobs could spring up, could communicate by mail or phone, but they couldn't grow and infiltrate other organizations and groups.

Now we have the and crowds and similar hate groups all over the world. And they communicate via the web. Doesn't matter that only one or two are in a given location, they have a disproportionate impact because they can infiltrate other groups. One great example is the Tea Party - half stormfront fools, with a generous helping from other anti-semitic and anti-muslim racist groups in equal measure to fill it out. They propagate the "Birther" nonsense, they hang onto wacked-out "9/11 was a jewish inside job" theories, and every other bit of insanity they can come up with.

Re:It was one of many protocols in '91/'92 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009264)

no no, it's all peace and love and BBQ unicorn ribs with pony-sauce on the web

My First Online Experience (1)

broggyr (924379) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008556)

My first experience going online was Prodigy, and the first website I ever visited was, circa 1996ish

Re:My First Online Experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008614)

Mine was using Archie to find porn - back then, they were all stills, in the snow, uphill, both ways!

Re:My First Online Experience (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008946)

You'd think with both Betty and Veronica trying to get after him, he'd have no need for porn.

Re:My First Online Experience (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009286)

did u see the one with "Big" Moose? and the one where u can tell why they call him "JUG" head?

Re:My First Online Experience (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009686)

I always loved those nice ASCII hills...

Re:My First Online Experience (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010246)

Mine was using Archie to find porn - back then, they were all stills, in the snow, uphill, both ways!

My favorite definition of Broadband: "Now your porn can move!"

You Never Forget Your First (1)

Alaren (682568) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008632)

I tried out Mosaic via a NovaNET connection out in rural Arizona--in 1994, when I was 14. It was another year before I bothered with the web again (once we moved somewhere with local dial-up access), though by the time I graduated high school I was using it every day.

I left IT behind in 2006 and am an attorney now, but honestly the HTML (and Photoshop) I learned running an "underground" newspaper website on Geocities has been more useful to me than most anything else I learned in high school. As usual, Randall got it right [] .

Re:You Never Forget Your First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009364)

best XKCD ever!

Re:My First Online Experience (1)

kerashi (917149) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009036)

My first experience going online was also with Prodigy, which my parents promptly cancelled after they got the telephone bill with all the long distance charges. It wasn't till 97 when I turned 18 and moved out of the sticks that I was able to get on again, with a 56k dialup modem.

Re:My First Online Experience (5, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009548)

Thanks, kids, Now I feel REALLY old. I was 31 when I first got on line, that was in 1983 on Compuserve. To tell the truth, it was pretty useless -- but so were both of my computers, a TS-1000 and a TRS-80 MC10, neither of which had any decent software I didn't write myself. I sold a little software for the MC10 after putting a classified in (IIRC) Byte Magazine. God but getting Compuserve cancelled was hard!

I was on BBSes around 88 or 89 after I bought a used IBM-XT. That and shareware got me into computer games.

Back then you couldn't get on the internet without a credit card, and we were dirt poor and didn't have one. In '97 Family Video offered internet access, unlimited access for $12 per month and you could pay cash, and they weren't kidding about unlimited. It came with hosting, and I abused the hell out of it with my 33.6 modem. I made web pages for my favorite games, and some teenager emailed me asking if I played Quake. Of course I played Quake! He encouraged me to make a Quake page; I guess I was good at it, because I got emails about my Road Rash site from people who thought it was EA's site.

The Quake site was the one I abused Family Video with. I uploaded patches, skins, maps, you name it. FV's servers must have been pretty fast, because some folks told me they'd wait until I uploaded a patch because it would download faster.

I was pretty proud of that site. A couple months after starting it I submitted an article to Planet Quake, who posted it with a link to my site and it really took off after that. Everybody was linking me; Blue's News would have a link every couple of weeks or so. I got to where I spent a lot more time on the site than playing Quake!

My youngest, Patty, was a fan of online Roger Rabbit, and one day she came to me with wide etes and said "dad, did you know you were famous?" Seems a lot of the kids were my fans!

Man, I had a lot of fun back then, especially after I had a boss who discovered I was doing things at work that people earning three times what I was couldn't, and got me a big promotion and raise. So we bought a big house on 7th street, Evil-X went to school and pretty much didn't spend any time at all with the kids and me, and she wound up moving out.

Yeah, I'm putting the Paxil Diaries in book form. I promise! For you who aren't acquainted, I'd joined /. (which started about the same time as the Springfield Fragfest, my Quake site) but didn't post much; I was too busy with Quake. After Evil-X moved out I started posting diaries on K5; that was the Paxil Diaries. They were about music, reefer, drinking, and unsuccessfully chasing women.

Patty and Leila are still big into gaming; Patty's assistant manager of a GameStop now. Tell her "hi" if you see her, she's the hot 24 year old with a treble clef tattood on one arm and a bass clef on the other. Her picture's on my Google+ page.

Most of you guys are probably not much older than them, and a lot of you are even younger. No, I won;t tell you to get off my lawn. Especially if you hand me a beer or a lit joint.

my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008598)

my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 that had what I guess tcp/ip stack(slip probably) and a browser that worked with it, I don't remember it's name but it wasn't netscape for sure and it wasn't trumpet which did the tcp/ip, of that I'm fairly sure. the first real internet was on this one bbs that had early linux connected to internet available for members, later it turned into more of a smalltime isp, moved away from that to different provider for isdn access. why can't web pages be more like they were with around when netscape 2.0 got out? content was king once, not the layout.. also early on, why was everything available for linux so well? realplayers and all - it's like 1995 was the year of linux on desktop.

Re:my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 (1) (1665555) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008718)

I remember all of this as well. My first experience seeing the web was at the JPL open house in 1993. The pages they had loaded up were JPL, NCSA and CERN. I remember my first thoughts were its like gopher but with inline pictures.

I'm sure everyone wants to forget the pain of the old days too. Installing trumpet stack on your Windows 3.1 box and then struggling for days trying to figure out what was going wrong. Oh and don't forget having to install the 32-bit extension on to old 16-bit Windows so that you could use NCSA Mosaic/Mozilla.

Re:my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009132)

Trumpet winsock or whatever most likely. That's what I had to use. And I remember downloading a game (can't remember which) from happy puppy on a 2400 baud modem. Left it to download over night only to find out the connection dropped for whatever reason at 900k of the 1.2 M game. That's sucked!

Re:my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 (1)

dotwhynot (938895) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009268)

my brother installed some stuff on 3.11 that had what I guess tcp/ip stack(slip probably) and a browser that worked with it, I don't remember it's name but it wasn't netscape for sure and it wasn't trumpet which did the tcp/ip, of that I'm fairly sure. the first real internet was on this one bbs that had early linux connected to internet available for members, later it turned into more of a smalltime isp, moved away from that to different provider for isdn access. why can't web pages be more like they were with around when netscape 2.0 got out? content was king once, not the layout.. also early on, why was everything available for linux so well? realplayers and all - it's like 1995 was the year of linux on desktop.

This might very well have been Spry Internet in a Box [] . Used it myself, was a very good product at the time. It included a full winsock tcp/ip stack, and AirMosaic [] browser, in addition to clients for Usenet, Telnet, Gopher, FTP and email.

My first Internet and Web Experiences (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008606)

My first experience with the Internet was when I brought home a computer and modem from work and opened an Internet access account with IBM (now part of AT&T's network) back in 1994. At the time I didn't know what a browser was, so no web at that point. At the time I was using OS/2 and had the Internet Access Kit installed, so I had some Internet-related applications to use. I spent a few weeks using Gopher reading various texts, but at the time local BBS's were far more developed and easier to use, plus included Fidonet which I downloaded "mail" from to read offline with my Bluewave reader. I cancelled that account. A couple of months went by and I learned about something called Netscape and an OS/2 specific browser from IBM called WebExplorer. I opened my account again with IBM, downloaded WebExplorer, and had a ball. As I recall I ran Netscape under WinOS/2 for a while until there was an OS/2 specific version, but mostly I used (and build pages for) WebExplorer.

About the same time for me too (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008608)

really big in the local bbs's someone tipped us off that the public library had hooked up their card catalog bbs service to the internet and was offering web access though lynx ... it was fucking awesome

Ahh ... good times ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008610)

I certainly remember seeing NCSA Mosaic for the first time.

But I also remember downloading stuff from the usenet* newsgroups and needing to edit out the headers, cat them together, and then run the whole thing through uudecode. Good times -- that's partly how I learned vi. ;-)

Oh, and of course both UUCP bang path addressing as well as the funky ones we had on the VAXes at school to translate from DECNet or whatever it was ... IN% or something before what we'd recognize now as a proper email address.

ftp.sunsite, ... the ftp repository at White Sands Missile Range

Oooh, and SLIP on a Linux box ... that was pretty awesome. There was a lot of "internet" stuff before most anybody knew about the "world wide web". I remember trying to explain it to people in the way back, and getting looked at like I'd gone off my rocker.

And I didn't even need pants. ;-)

Re:Ahh ... good times ... (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009258)

While Sir Tim was busy inventing I was jazzed about GEnie, Compuserve, and AppleLink. I couldn't imagine things getting so much more sophisticated. Then 4 years later I used the "View Source" command for the first time. I immediately grokked what HTML was about. Biggest rush EVAR! I was also not wearing pants.

Thanks, Sir Tim, for the long-lasting endorphin high and the savings on my laundry bills.

Re:Ahh ... good times ... (0)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010088)

If you're old enough to have done all that then you're old enough not to use silly kid words like "grok" and "EVAR".

From a 20 something its cool, from a 30 or 40 something its just plain sad.

Re:Ahh ... good times ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009304)

I remember going to gopher and WAIS quite a bit too.

Re:Ahh ... good times ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37010172)

One of my professors, Eric Roberts, was on ARPANet back when the ARPANet still published directories: physical, paper binders with a name and description of every user.

He still teaches the introductory CS class at Stanford. One quarter I was course-helping, and after our weekly meeting we'd been talking about the prehistoric internet. He opened Mac Mail and showed us some of us some of his email from 1973.

Apparently the Mailbox Protocol was similar enough to its successor, SMTP, that some modern software can still read the headers.


1993 (2)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008618)

My first experience with the World Wide Web was similar to subby -- it was in the Sun lab at the Department of Computer Science at Old Dominion University. The browser was NCSA Mosaic, and the workstations were about half black & white and half color. The rise of the Web started minor fights for the color monitors! Back in these days, the Web was pre-Google (or should I say, "BG", as opposed to "AG" ;-) . . . the home page was set to the local ODUCS website, and from there you could go to the NCSA Mosaic "What's New on the WWW" page and find interesting stuff. Plus, there was also the horny geeks on the 17th floor (p0rn), somewhere in Belgium,. . . ;-) Then, along came the Cool Site of the Day, featuring a new site every day of the week, which was fun. Back in those days, things were so new I never expected that I'd watch most TV shows via the Internet or access the WWW on my iPhone,. . .

Re:1993 (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009378)

I probably first saw the Web around 1993 or 1994. It was Mosaic on Windows 3.1 using Trumpet Winsock.

I hosted my first Web server on the same platform, using ZBserver, in 1994. I had no administrative access to any *n*x boxes at the time, just Netware servers and VAXen, and I wasn't about to mess around with those, so I ran the web service on my desktop. I switched that to Windows 95 and the corresponding version of ZBserver fairly quickly, of course. I used to keep the log window open, so I could see when/if someone was hitting it.

In addition to the obligatory "about myself" page, that server ran a small site dedicated to reviewing comic books and graphic novels; I'm pretty sure it was the first such site on the Web. I didn't have my own domain at the time, so I simply used the machine's public *.edu name... which got me fired over the fact that I was including fair-use images from the comics I was reviewing, which meant I was "publishing" naughty drawings with the college's name in the URL. Admittedly a foolish thing to do, but in my defense, I didn't have the cautionary exhibit of a million sexting teens and drunken facetards to learn from. And just try explaining it to potential employers who ask why you left your previous position. My first taste of unemployment. So yeah, the Web changed my life pretty "quickly and profoundly". :/

The Wheel or Fire might be more profound. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008620)

"...would change the world more quickly and profoundly than anything before or since."

While certainly revolutionary (quite literally in recent times), I would argue that the advent of man-made fire or the wheel would give it a run for its money. Those have also been somewhat useful.

Re:The Wheel or Fire might be more profound. (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008658)

The wheel and fire are certainly damn important inventions, but looked at purely in terms of number of lives affected the web probably beats anything else, just because there were so few people back in the stone age, whereas there are now a billion or so people online. The web is a staggering success story, and the story of the internet as a whole has barely even begun.

Re:The Wheel or Fire might be more profound. (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009398)

The Wheel took longer than the Web to get around to everyone. Likewise, Fire didn't catch on as quickly.

Re:The Wheel or Fire might be more profound. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37010146)

Scientific method? Electrification? Quantum physics? Fossil fuels? Germ theory? Information technology is meaningless on an empty stomach at night.

AOL (1)

ItsPaPPy (1182035) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008626)

Well someone has to post about it. For me it was AOL 2.5 on my 14.4 modem on windows 3.1. Screaming fast!

Re:AOL (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008662)

14.4 was like my 6th modem hehe come back with AOL on a 2400baud in DOS

Re:AOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008876)

get off my lawn, in my day we were giddy when our acoustic couplers and rickety newfangled modems got up to 300baud from 100-150baud.

Re:AOL (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009010)

Lets see - 1200 2400 9600 14400

I was just using local BBS then.
Actually ran one myself 1992 to 2002

On Amiga computers of course.

But the most life changing event for me would be getting onto IRC in 2000

Remember it like it was yesterday. (0)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008628)

I fondly remember going to my 6th form library in 1997 to visit on Bondi Blue iMacs to download new units onto a floppy disk every week. I was savvy enough to understand that the floppy disk needed to be formatted for FAT32 and the Mac could read them but Windows being the ignorant computer citizen it was, couldn't read Mac formatted disks.

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008684)

its not that windows was being ignorant, they just didn't want to pay the licensing fee for a damn near dead propitiatory format that even apple had dropped by then

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (0)

HisMother (413313) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009018)

MMMmmmm, no. Mac had (and used) variable-speed motors in their floppy drives. Wintel machines physically could not read Mac disks -- they were not compatible at the hardware level.

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009502)

they only used the variable speed motors on the 800k format, 1.44 meg "superdisks" dropped that and outside of software they work the same way as your pc drive via standard speed and mfm.

Thanks for playing

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009038)

HFS was replaced in 1998 by HFS+, but was supported by Apple up until earlier this year when OS X Lion was released - you can no longer format or write to HFS volumes in Lion, they are read only.

Not bad for a "damn near dead" proprietary format (that is part of Apple's open source offerings, along with HFS+)

hfsutils (open source) has been available since 1996 or so enabling the totally free, licence-fee-free use of HFS formatted disks on non-Apple systems to this day.

Don't let your Apple hate get in the way of facts or anything. You're looking for a "Apple are evil, that's why Windows didn't support HFS!" angle where it really doesn't exist.

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009480)

no I am looking at no one in 1998 owned a mac so no one cared angle, its one of the reasons I still own a 603e machine, simply so I can make mac floppy disk's and HFS+ was never used on floppy's which is what were talking about here

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009864)

You're contradicting yourself - you are claiming that HFS was "near dead" and are now claiming "HFS+ was never used on floppies", unless you're saying "no one cared about floppies because they were near dead [in 1998]" but that's a different issue. You were specifically talking about HFS.

Still, it remains accurate that you could use HFS formatted disks in non-Apple machines since 1996 due to the GPL licenced hfsutil. They certainly didn't have to pay any "licensing fee" to Apple for use of the format, which is what you claim prevented Microsoft from supporting the format in Windows.

We return full circle: you're talking out of your ass with wild, factually incorrect guesses and speculation.

Currently HFS and HFS+ are covered under Apple's open source licence, and the "near dead" HFS was supported fully (read, write, format) up until OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and is now only legacy supported (read only) in OS X 10.7 Lion. Of course, hfsutil still works, and you're free to write your own HFS writing software.

Re:Remember it like it was yesterday. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008690)

i guess you meant FAT12 ;)

All I have to say is, thank you. (2)

WebManWalking (1225366) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008640)

The World Wide Web has been very, very good to me. Thank you, TBL.

Re:All I have to say is, thank you. (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009880)

I second that. He is one of the guys that make nobiliary titles appear as something good. I remember Mosaic and Netscape running in SPARC stations and SGI Indigo machines at my city university's top computer lab in late 1994-mid 1995.

Thank you Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

In the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008668)

In the mid 90s I visited SF for a holiday and bought a computer magazine, called www or something. When I got back I got hold of slip and lynx, shortly followed by Mosaic. Mosaic was a revelation and I immediately realised what this 'information superhighway' idea we were selling to our consultancy clients was going to be based on. Also, echo the above comments about usenet, alt.binaries.etc and uuencode. I also first came across some of the more distinctive Japanese cultural artefacts.

Ahh yes... (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008702)

Don't we all remember banging away on our 300 baud modem thinking it was FAST.... Oh the memories.

Re:Ahh yes... (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008786)

I don't remember thinking 300 baud was fast, but it worked. It was great for reading long textfiles as the characters appeared on the screen just about as fast as I could read them. Getting the 1200 baud modem, though, changed everything. Suddenly you could download software without tying up the phone line for half the day.

Re:Ahh yes... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009544)

Exactly. Unless you were used to using a 110baud acoustically coupled modem, 300 was still slow. And you could still whistle into the phone and make it print characters on the screen. 1200baud - now that was cool, and 2400 was just ludicrous (when they worked, which was suspect at times), as well as being beyond the budget of those of us still in school.

Re:Ahh yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008872)

Don't we all remember banging away on our 300 baud modem thinking it was FAST

No, I remember having a 300 baud modem and thinking it was very slow. You can read faster than 300 baud. I had 300 baud for maybe a year before getting a 1200 baud modem. This was around 1985 or so.

1200 baud was a huge improvement. It still took forever to download a game though. 9600 baud was the first modem I actually thought was "fast".

Re:Ahh yes... (1)

dotwhynot (938895) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009636)

Don't we all remember banging away on our 300 baud modem thinking it was FAST No, I remember having a 300 baud modem and thinking it was very slow. You can read faster than 300 baud. I had 300 baud for maybe a year before getting a 1200 baud modem. This was around 1985 or so.

1200 baud was a huge improvement. It still took forever to download a game though. 9600 baud was the first modem I actually thought was "fast".

Just a small nitpick in case you are interested: Baud symbol rate != bitrate. The V.32 9.600 kbit/s modems were 2400 baud. The V.34 33.6 kbit/s modems were 3,429 baud.

9.600 kbit/s should of course be 9.6 kbit/s (2)

dotwhynot (938895) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009658)

Slashdot needs post editing

Re:Ahh yes... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009702)

Don't we all remember banging away on our 300 baud modem thinking it was FAST....

Oh the memories.

Bah! You kids! I remember my first real job. Our group's terminal had a 300 baud connection to the main computer in the same building. Ah, yes, basking in the sickly orange glow of the terminal - 1981 was good times...

I was the kid in the group, and the only one with computing skills. Seriously, sometimes if you typed fast enough you could stop and watch the letters on the screen appear after the fact.

troll(kore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008706)

fucking surprise, fucking percent of 7or it. I don't obvious that there Series of debates of the above moronic, dileetante can no longer be

Required Simpsons Reference (1)

Scholasticus (567646) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008790)

Yes, I know this was some years later ... Comic Book Guy: "Oh, Captain Janeway. Lace: The Final Brassiere.Oh hurry up, I'm a busy man. Ugh, this high-speed modem is intolerably slow."

"It's like Gopher, but better" (3, Interesting)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008802)

I think it must have been 1993; possibly 1994 - I was shown Mosaic by another student. I remember thinking it was like some kind of mix between Hypercard and gopher. I can't remember what the first site I visited was. I do remember that all web pages were grey and left-justified, though.

It's neat, but I can get more from Gopher. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009536)

That was my comment on seeing a secretary at Goddard Space Flight Center had one of the first versions of Mosaic (Summer 93?). I was already good at finding stuff with gopher and archie; I didn't need yet another interface.

I will say, though, that by the spring of '94, I had changed my tune, and I told my wife that "in the future" you would see trucks and billboards with web addresses instead of 1-800 numbers. It is very possibly my only prescient statement regarding mass marketing, and I failed to act on it financially. So, I'm stuck with saying "I knew it would happen," having a witness who has, if anything, a reverse bias to telling people I'm right instead of being a rich'er/cybersquatter.

Re:It's neat, but I can get more from Gopher. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009752)

I have a few of those: Drive through windows on coffee shops, universal remote controls built into phaser and tricorder housings, a button on your TV that makes your remote beep.

FAST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008812)

I like how fast his page loads. Must have done a lot of optimisation.

Re:FAST (2)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008902)

The best website is the one that delivers content without requiring optimization. ;)

Also, the html source for the first www page is just 78 lines. :D

Happy Birthday (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008818)

I'm not nearly as tech-old as you people, but I still remember the days before Google where someone would give you their h.t.t.p.colon.slash.slash website which you'd view on Netscape.

Re:Happy Birthday (4, Informative)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008910)

What? What about, and In fact, altavista as a search engine was the "google" of yesterday.

Re:Happy Birthday (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008934)

I remember altavista, but I didn't use search engines that much in those days. Its not like the 'search browsing' of today.

Re:Happy Birthday (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009962)

In fact, altavista as a search engine was the "google" of yesterday.

Altavista's was the google of yesterday. Raging stripped out all the 'OMG we're not just a search engine we're a Portal!!' cruft that had accumulated on the major search engines and got back to search basics, circa 1999 or so.

Re:Happy Birthday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37008940)

I remember before Google... Altavista was king... it was hard to find anything. People have forgotten how bad early search engines were.

Re:Happy Birthday (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009328)

You youngsters and your web-page based search engines!
Webferret, now that was a search program. 25MB of locally cached keywords.

Edit: HOLY CRAP- They're still making it!?! []

1993 NCSA Mosaic (4, Interesting)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008828)

"If you haven't tried NCSA Mosaic to travel the Internet, then you are
missing the best way to experience the Internet...Its so good, I think
we should make a WWW server [here], and get a [256kbps] connection to
the Internet."  -- Rick Richardson, 9 Aug 1993

Re:1993 NCSA Mosaic (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008930)

256 kbps? You people are crazy. The bits will get confused if you try to move them at that speed. In fact, having cables like that near farmland will make chickens stop laying.

1994 first for me (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008854)

Dialing into message boards and private networks that had internet access.

I tried AOL im sure but that could not have lasted more than a month or so.

Then I found Best and found a home.

I told colleagues this would change everything (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#37008928)

In 93, when www first "arrived" with Mosaic, but one technical leader said: Yeah but we already have the "gopher" protocol. Why do we need this?

Re:I told colleagues this would change everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009098)

I actually remember telling my coleague Sprint will ultimately kill internet, given it was twice as fast for copying files. Once more worse standard prevailed :-)

"It's like Gopher, but without real content" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009000)

Years before http: there was gopher:. And gopher could "hyperlink" to other gopher sites, depending on the client you were using. HTML was really the innovation, not the world wide web. As I recall, the web was, for many years, just a novelty compared to the real content in FTP and Gopher.

It was cool, but didn't do much (1)

brwski (622056) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009012)

I had a college classmate who had just returned from an internship in Switzerland: "Let me show you something I helped work on this summer..." We had been using Gopher, of course, and individual command-line networking tools (even on our NeXTStations), but this was something...different. When I mentioned that it was cool, but didn't offer much content, my classmate was quick to answer: "but think of what we can use it for!" I wasn't there for the birth, but I did see it smile for the first time...

Happy Birthday (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009230)

I don't know where i would be without it.

Re:Happy Birthday (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009642)

I don't know where i would be without it.

Given that my official job title contains the word "Web"... I'm not sure where I'd be either!

Fighting crime, maybe?

Why the confusion (1)

johnw (3725) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009246)

Microsoft must take a lot of the blame for the confusion in the public mind between "The Internet" and "The World Wide Web". By calling their web browser "Internet Explorer" they misled a lot of people right from the start. Yes, you can use it to access stuff other than web sites, but for most beginners, the fact that the tool was called Internet Explorer meant it was obvious that "The Internet" was the thing they were browsing.

1991 (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009300)

I was a fresh-outta-college CS major working at the then-aerospace behemoth Hughes Aircraft Company. We had been connected to Usenet mail and newsgroups using the very highfalutin' and expensive Telebit Trailblazer modem, one of the first 9600 BPS modems to hit the market.

The first evidence I can find of my former self is at the Telecom Digest archives [] , on a thread about phone repair service in the September 9, 1991 digest. I'm quite certain I was active on that list prior to our office's conversion to Internet mail, but it was a very big deal at the time.

The world is still at war over ancient bullshit (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009404)

Please, do tell, what exactly has changed?

Yahoo (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009470)

I remember a buddy showing me "this cool yahoo thing" on Mosaic my senior year at GT. I think it was hosted out of a home directory rather than a proper URL.

Before that, we were lucky to have "fast" 9600 baud modems in the dorms. Get off of my lawn!

dating myself ... (2)

filo_doe (2431290) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009472)

The news spread pretty quickly at my university in Chicago, where I was working in 91. Having used archie and gopher we immediately recognized the potential. Yeah, Cern's www line mode browser with its numbered link interface wasn't much. We knew that would change. What mattered was the protocol. For me UK's lynx provided the first fast curses interface. We started gathering and providing lots of academic info really quickly. Watching think tank and academic info growth explode exponentially was a great experience. Some early bookmarks: lanl, ncsa, ukansas, uminn, simtel, ibiblio. What struck me as goofy after 91 -- and this persisted for a few years even after Mosaic was released -- were the web sites that tried to replicate the feel of a gopher interface.

first usage (1)

bwhalen (246170) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009482)

It was late 1992 or early 1993 at SJSU. I got a UNIX acct and tried gopher, veronica, and lynx for hours that first evening, a total quarter to three evening.

Around 1993-94, at the Penn State Library... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009498)

... I saw the web for the first time at a public computer while researching our garden simulator. I was not impressed. Back then I had used Hypercard and Smalltalk, and it just seemed like we could do a whole lot better, and I had been thinkign about how to do that. I still feel that way a bit, alhough obviously the linking idea has worked well, HTML and http had broad powers in their simplicity, even with links not being first class objects and virtual machines not being standardized, and so on. So, first impressions can be misleading, although I still feel there are major missing pieces or standards. We need to push on to a social semantic desktop, IMHO, and I've tried some in that direction myself... [] []

By the way, a little known fact -- the 1950s short story "The Skills of Xanadu" by Theodore Sturgeon, about a culturally sophisticated networked culture that "defeats" a huge military empire that comes to conquer it, inspired Ted Nelson to work on hypertext (I asked Ted Nelson about this directly when he gave a talk at at IBM Research, and he had forgotten the name of the story, but that's where the name came from), and then his work obviously was one of the inspirations of the web. The story is floating around on the web, like in Google Books: []

Wasn't impressed, either. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009856)

I was working at Motorola in the early 90's and we'd just completed evaluations and selection of the end-user development environment for our new data warehouse project. I really like a Mac-thing called Prograph (we were an all-Mac facility) but we settled on PowerBuilder which, even then, I knew was on its last legs. It was a the safe choice, which usually is not really a good choice. Lesson learned.

A friend who worked in another department grabbed me and showed me a web page he'd written that queried a SQL database halfway across the country and displayed the results in Mosaic on a Mac.

"Uh, yeah," I said, not really getting it. I, too, had played with HyperCard and this web-wide-web was still pretty rough. I was wrong but the upside was just too much for a sane person to believe so I forgive me.

Godzilla Spider (1)

epine (68316) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009506)

I can definitely recall running NCSA Mosaic 2.0, but I'm a bit dim whether I cut my teeth on an earlier Mosaic. A year or two before this, I had managed to obtain internet access when I lived in Toronto in the first week available on a provider called where I mostly used the shell account on a system called r-node. Wikipedia says Internex Online was the first consumer dial-up ISP in Canada. Lots of people I knew had access to the internet through university dial-up accounts, back when September came once a year.

r-node was hardly what you would call a reliable service. I learned basic shell survival skills and made heavy use of an archie server based at University of McGill and downloaded a lot of technical information over ftp, if my session would stay up long enough to succeed. I tried gopher, but decided it was a bit of a crock.

I was in Halifax the year Mosaic came out, dialing in through Chebucto Freenet. This was a great community service. Cheap and surprisingly reliable for the price. Lynx was the default browser and I was happy enough with this since I was mostly using a 486 laptop with a monochrome screen.

On the Mosaic internet, I remember grey screens with rainbow separator bars populated with animated men-at-work GIFs and link-farm homesteads as far as the eye could see. This appalling landscape was so obviously the future it was almost beneath comment. I vaguely recall that you could find content at universities,, and gaming companies (ID Software must have been a frequent destination). My technical interest at this time was finding a way to compile the HP Standard Template Library with the Watcom C/C++ compiler.

So far I'm treating Mosaic as gopher clubbed onto the ice floe with a giant clue stick. I recall reading the URL specification in detail, which far more than HTML seemed to be the magic sauce. Mosaic dazzled in potential more than it impressed on first unveiling.

The first time I regarded document mark-up in a different light was when Sun started to promote the Java language. I read about the stack coherency guarantee, which impressed me, then I read about floating point ... and I flipped the bozo-bit so hard it almost gave me a concussion. The idea that floating point math was required to give the same answer on every underlying implementation offended me to the darkest nub of Scientology-hatred. Later it played out that strict adherence on x86 reduced floating point performance by an order of magnitude, because the implementation had to suppress "double rounding" involving the floating point guard bits (64 bit mantissa for working results). Sun thought that arrogating an order-of-magnitude reduction in floating point performance on x86 was doing the world a favour. Their world, not mine.

In high school, my idea of excitement was to program my calculator during chemistry class, leaving just enough of my brain active to grasp the general principle, then to use the midterm to apply my gleanings to a problem set for the first time. I spent my homework hours devising algorithms or formulas for anything that caught my fancy, with scant connection to school work. There was a lot of muttering about "heuristics" in chemistry class, which was a red flag for me to tune out completely. It always turned out that there was a precise answer available if you had a bit more foundation in math.

To my shock and horror on one chemistry mid-term, I discovered that the equilibrium condition for solution concentration expands to a cubic polynomial. This didn't trouble me as such, but I knew that no-one else in the class scribbling beside me was solving cubic equations. Maybe I had my workings wrong. I reviewed this three times. No, my workings are absolutely solid: it's a cubic equation ten ways from zero. Well, I've got 25 minutes left in a 45 minute exam, I better solve me some cubics.

In turns out the heuristic I missed involved approximating the cubic with a quadratic at the loss of about 10% accuracy. Not only did my chemistry teacher give me 0 on the questions I didn't manage to complete, he also took marks off of every question I answered, because my answers weren't suffering the expected 10% error.

So there it was: over my dead body was I going to learn a new programming language designed on the same principles.

Simplicity is good, but only honest simplicity. Dishonest simplicity always goes side-ways. "Write-once, run anywhere" soon turned into "write-once, debug everywhere". I felt it in my bones from the first day.

It's not the nature of the beast for floating point to give you heart-warming consistency. It's a dangerous illusion. Rather than having a viable plan to deal with boundaries to a cruel and ugly world, they tried to shoe-horn the entire language under a marketing slogan. In my view, this could only end badly. Guess what? Planning to interface with a cruel and ugly world is a necessary aspect of language design.

Later when Microsoft mounted the "embrace and extend" attack on Java, the Java camp had far fewer people like me who throw a hairy fit over corporate shenanigans. Instead, they had a lot of wankers (in it for the promise of simplicity that doesn't exist) manning the barricades. That sure worked out great.

Yesterday, I was reading about Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. His cabinet described this document as having consequences far beyond the human ken (exact quote imprisoned in 800 pages of wrist-bending cellulose).

URLs and HTML didn't seem ground-breaking in that sense. Cookies and Java (and Javascript) seemed harder to predict, to have consequences beyond the immediate ken. (Too bad the engineers of Java didn't bend their proscriptive glee toward defining a browser cookie security model that doesn't suck for the ages.)

There was an extremely bad stretch when Netscape was under exponential development. Many functions written in anger or haste had O(N^2) performance characteristics, and the underlying Windows platform was barely up to the task. Distinguishing a freeze from a lock-up was a daily guessing game. I spent more time rebooting than browsing.

My first geek orgasm over the internet happened when Altavista showed up. I remember very clearly thinking "this absolutely rocks, but surely there's no long-term business model in scraping the entire internet onto local storage". I totally lacked the imagination to conceive of a Godzilla spider. Altavista was adequate moral compensation for the DEC Rainbow; having balanced their spiritual books, they folded the tent.

I wonder how Google will someday balance the books on the real-name requirement of Google+. Is Google+ their future Rainbow regret? You just know in your bones they are pulling a fast one.

Has Godzilla Spider been stomped senseless by Cookie Monster? Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter.

Re:floating point (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009596)

Because I agree it would be so much better if the scientific calculation program I give you computes different results for you than it does for me.
Definitely better.
So much better than having to fix some broken implementations of a standard in the next rev.

Ridiculous hyperbole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009528)

"would change the world more quickly and profoundly than anything before or since"

Such hyperbole is laughable.
I suspect that the collision that created earth's moon had greater impact.

Challenger, Mosaic, 9/11 (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009574)

I remember it like I remember the other two events. It's odd, as I was pretty dismissive of it, but it was in the front office of Bldg 5 at GSFC, and a secretary was showing it to me (yes, at NASA, back then, even the secretaries were geek-cool).

All these threads bring back memories of that time (Trumpet Winsock, Gopher, etc...) which was just after I got out of college. Cool stuff, indeed.

Tim Berners-Lee's first web page (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009620)

Oh, yeah - I remember hearing him complain about the lousy click-through rate on his Google ads...

Bah, Whippersnappers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009660)

' Got a few words fer ye : 150 Baud modems, analog telephone lines, BBSs (with overnight email with "internet addresses"), AOL an "dem other guys" vs. the rest of the world (the rest of the world won), finger, archie, ftp, textmail, ascii-art, asc-ii star-trek "simulator", (borrowed) ibm accounts at the U. And manuals. Wonderful ... manuals (including D&D).

I'm waiting for more interplanetary internet. Eight or 32 minute ping delays. Overnight email. Just like de *good* old days. :)

Memories of Predictions Past (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009772)

I didn't discover the web until 94 but I have fond memories of going to yahoo and skiimming through all the new websites on the Internet each week.

When I look back at my predictions from those early years, I was right about predicting the emergence of services like ebay, wikipedia, online newspapers and how the web would eventually supplant tv as the number one medium for wasting time.

I imaged social networking would be a bit like slashdot but that everyone would have their own personal webservers and that discussions would unfold as flat files. I imagined there would be tools that aggregated all the homepage discussions of your friends into threads of a single feed of "what's new and hot" and that you wouldn't care so much about modding comments up or down because it was all happening within smaller communities and if you didn't like a thread, you'd just drop it from your feed.

I was mostly wrong about universities (I thought that they would eventually become completely redundant with the web but they actually seem to be enduring more intact and unchanged than any other part of society). I was also worried that the decline of mass media in favour of user-to-user communication and hiveminds would mean an explosion of new relgions and religious-type thinking, but even though hiveminds are a problem on the web, they aren't as much of a problem as I had expected.

I also expected that there would be a lot more sentimental/poetic websites - I imagined a web of maps of the world would emerge, marked up with layers of memories, comments about why people found certain locations, virtual graffiti or game-like systems using real maps. Sort of a google maps / geocaching mix

WordWideWeb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37009910)

Time to fire up my old NeXT workstation and see if I can find anything that still displays reasonably coherently in [] .

pr0gress (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 3 years ago | (#37009966)

Around 1995 I logged on to AOL through a computer at my mom's office. There was a chat room and people were asking what the Internet was, and how you could access it. Eventually I learned, then there was college and pr0n, and now I buy stuff from Amazon without tax. Even in California. Also, no more trips to the library, and no more wondering how to make byesar. Thank you Sir Tim.

Lynx text browser on a VMS box in 1993 (1)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010002)

Freshman year in college. Our dorm rooms were wired with 10Mb ethernet and pathworks.
We had accounts on a couple of VMS boxes that were exposed to internet using a couple of T1 lines.
Don't remember the first graphical browser I used.

Primenet 1993 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37010076)

I had a Primenet account in Phoenix, AZ in 1993... I remember having to figure out winsock and trumpet and god only knows what else to get it to work... After running a BBS for a decade (my first modem was 300 baud in 1983) my original opinion of the web/internet was simply "meh". Now that everyone and their Mom is surfing, downloading, emailing, tweeting, etc. I've revised my opinion to "mostly meh."

Happy Birthday and First Memories (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010080)

First of all... Happy birthday, World Wide Web! [] (and no, it is neither a Rickroll nor a goatse.)

Now, my first memories of the Web was shortly after Prairienet in the Champaign-Urbana area went public through the library. That would be either 1993 or 1994. I first had to go to the library to connect because my computer at the time (Apple IIGS) had both a malfunctioning keyboard and monitor. Eventually it got fixed and I could then explore the deep dark depths of the Internet from the comfort of home. I checked out this app that Prairienet had called Lynx to browse the Web, but it felt too klunky for general information and file searches. Instead, I decided I preferred using Gopher with the Archie or Veronica search tools. So I didn't do much on the Web until a couple years later when I got my first DOS/WfW system.

My biggest use of the net at the time was MUDs, MUCKs, various USENet newsgroups, sponging smut off ftp sites, IRC, and email via PINE.

1993, 8th grade (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010178)

A group of us interested in computers went to the District office or whatever, where they had some computers connected to the web. (Mosaic was the browser of course) I didn't understand much at the time (didn't have a computer yet) but I asked a friend why the pages loaded slow (it was a 384k connection) My friend, used to 14.4 Dial up said "dude, you have no idea how fast this is". The next year when I finally got a computer, I realized how nice that 384k was. It would be 8 years before I used a connection that fast again.

1993.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37010192)

We were doing a UNIX course at Liverpool University and during the module on using Gopher, Veronica and FTP to enhance our use of the internet, we were shown Mosaic running on one of the comp-labs higher-specced HP workstations (much faster than the ones we students played on). I don't recall which page we accessed, probably the Mosaic home page...... I do remember it was dog-slow.

Of more interest at that time was the MCC Linux distro that was running through the comp-sci department like wildfire. 5 boxes of HD floppies....

Time flies (1)

The Bastard (25271) | more than 3 years ago | (#37010212)

1991...Twenty years ago, and it seems like only yesterday.

Anyway, my first experience with the "web" came around March/April '93 when I fired up NCSA Mosaic .8 or .9 at my alma mater. I'd graduated a couple of years prior, was working for a company in the area, and decided to head back to turn a minor into a major.

That last point is important. You young pups may not realize it--with ubiquitous Internet access from almost any device, and the emphasis on developing and monetizing websites/apps--but back in those days, commercial activity on the Internet was a big "no-no", and in some cases illegal. Unless one was affiliated with an institution of higher learning, a scientific/reseach company, or a defense contractor, one wasn't getting on.

So, there were no broadband or ISP dial-up connections, and high-speed generally meant 56-256Kb/s. Heck, a lot of backbones were T-1s (or multiple bonded T-1's by '93).

So, after playing with Mosaic for a few days, the college network manager (who had been a year ahead of me) saw me messing around with it, and asked me what I thought. My reply: "Not bad. I really like the concept, and think it's going to work great for text. But these graphics...they're going to kill the backbone; it's unfeasible."

Strangely enough (or not), that race is still ongoing today.

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