Tim thinks of a name
It was the Englishman Tim Berners Lee who came up with the idea of calling this strange new linked group of computers the world wide web. We were fortunate enough that he decided not to charge people for the privilege of using his invention. I realized at the time that it would be the easiest thing to charge people for, but I also realized that this thing would take off, and eventually, it would be like trying to charge people for fire. This was a force of nature that couldn’t be stopped.
Ericsson was the 1st company to make a mobile phone
In 1979, trousers were flared and the Vietnam War ignited global dislike. Meanwhile, in Sweden, a group of clever men and women were trying to solve the problem of mobile communication. Ericsson saw this problem as primarily a business challenge. They had no idea that husbands and wives would be using their gadgets 30 years later for domestic and social use and that people on trains would soon be tired of hearing the phrase ‘I’m on the train’ spoken into tiny handheld devices.
Electricity up the line and up the river
In 1906, water-powered electricity was commercially available. A railway company in chilly Winnipeg USA had this brave and bold idea. These people were one of the first visionaries for green electricity. The Winnipeg river generated an astonishing 60,000 volts to help fuel the city. What is also impressive about this group of imaginative folks is that they generated warmth in a cold climate.
The missing part of the puzzle
Astonishingly, nearly 30% of the world’s population has never made a phone call. Bell’s brilliant invention of copper wires was the basis of communication. However, Mark Zuckerberg made it capable for the entire world to stay in touch. Zuckerberg put together Wi-Fi-wielding satellites that enabled true global voice connection. This is a case of the hare overtaking the tortoise for once.
But what comes after the internet?
Asking what system will replace or semi-replace the internet is probably akin to asking what system or semi-system will replace the capitalist system. But our history of global communication does clue us in about what to expect. When the radio was invented, there was global excitement, but it still took the world’s infrastructure and nascent audiences 38 years to enable the radio industry and build a 50 million-wide audience. It was a swifter climb for television to reach a 50 million-wide audience. This only took thirteen years, almost three times the pace of radio.
Then came the internet, reaching 50 million within four years. So, again, this was another three-fold increase in the take-up curve. Now, cryptocurrency may replace or semi-replace money in the near future, and if disruption is really in human DNA in the way we are told by geneticists, then the internet will be replaced or augmented/complemented with a completely different form of communication. What is easier to bet on is the rate of uptake will be very speedy, a grand total of 1.4 years. So, early adopters better get their gold rush trigger fingers ready if they want to cash in on this unknown technology. There will be a lot of people ready to speculate along with you!
A webcast is nice but not as slick as Bill himself
Bill Clinton may have been a successful, but controversial, president of the US, but he was also a key player of one of the quirkier facts of technological history. He was the first president whose inauguration was broadcast live. Unsurprisingly, the viewing figures were not as huge as Trump’s, but it was a small, yet important, marker in internet history, and at the time it was an innovation that needed to be experimented with. There was enough uptake in global audiences – despite the clunky dial-up data flow and stuttering moving images viewers suffered at the time – to suggest that this rough and ready art form might be worth something in the future.
1968 and all that
1968 may be a date that history looks on as significant in the centuries to come. Douglas Englebert, a somewhat asthmatic but hard-working computer programmer in 1968, went to a computer expo in San Francisco with the “mouse.” He was showing it next to companies showcasing new computers. As usual with new tech, there was a slightly wary viewpoint, but soon orders began to follow. It may not have been the same explosion as Steve Jobs with his iPhone intro in 2007, but this quiet and unassuming man had changed the course of computer history at the end of the swinging sixties.
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