Article: How the Web Was Won

Vint Cerf and Robert KahnSubtitled “An oral history of the Internet”, this brilliant article tracks the development of the internet from its military origins to today’s Web 2.0 social behemoth.

All the big players have been interviewed (and a number that do not normally get the credit) and their testimony pieced together to tell the story.

There are little audio snippets from some of the participants, but the authors say that there were more than 100 hours of interviews – wouldn’t it be great to get the majority of the stuff online? Then you would have a real oral history worth preserving for prosperity; especially as a number of the gentlemen interviewed are “elder statesmen” and are not getting any younger.

Here are a number of quotes that caught my eye:

1969 was quite a year.  Man on the moon.  Woodstock.  Mets won the World Series.  Charles Manson starts killing these people here in Los Angeles.  And the Internet was born.  Well, the first four everybody knew about.  Nobody knew about the Internet.

He said, I need some symbol that separates the name of the recipient from the machine that the guy’s files are on.  And so he looked around for what symbols on the keyboard were not already in use and found the “@” sign.  It was a tremendous invention.

The first thing I did is I actually picked up the phone and dialled 411 and I said, I’d like the number for the Internet please.  And the operator is like, What?  I said, Just search any company with the word Internet in the name.  Blank.  Nothing.  I thought, Wow, this is interesting.  What is this thing anyway?

I’d never seen a hyperlink before.  I don’t think anybody had.  And it was kind of drop-dead amazing.

Windows will be reduced down to being a poorly debugged bag of device drivers

When you look at the history of any new medium, it takes a decade or more for people to figure out what the native behavior of that medium is… when you look at the fundamental or native behavior of what the Internet is, it’s social.  It is two-way communication.

Communication always changes society, and society was always organised around communication channels.  Two hundred years ago it was mostly rivers.  It was sea-lanes and mountain passes.  The Internet is another form of communication and commerce.  And society organises around the channels

It’s a great article.  Enjoy.

Vanity Fair:  How the Web Was Won


One comment

  1. Pingback: “I’d never seen a hyperlink before… And it was kind of drop-dead amazing.” « Spare Cycles

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