Website of the day - CSS Design Awards
Website of the day - CSS Design Awards

When computers did not speak to each other, I made them speak

Where's the fun in having a computer disconnected from other computers, isolated in the world, just a solitary machine and not being able to share what we like with others? A hint: there's no fun. So, if it wasn't for the internet the computers would have been an one person pastime even today.

But in 1965 everything changed when two computers established a communication for the first time, using a technology called packet switching. This technology breaks data into small packages making its traffic easier and distributing them into a web of connections instead of using a direct path.

The original papers of Lawrence Roberts, one of the main scientists behind the packet switching project, are available on his personal website.


When data was disconnected, I created links

Connect ideas are much more powerful, don't you think?. Internet itself is the proof. It came to life and grew based on the concept of hyperlinks, by directly connecting documents, data, archives, information - no matter where they are.

The concept of hyperlinks was developed in the 60s when the philosopher and sociologist Ted Nelson started to work at Project Xanadu, with the objective of creating a computer network based on hypertext. Almost 30 years later, Project Xanadu has go nowhere but Tim Berners-Lee web ended up giving life to some of Nelson's concepts.

The people who truly implemented the first experiences with hyperlinks in documents were the Douglas Engelbart team from the Stanford Research Institute in the 60s. Without them, the documents and ideas on the internet would be isolated like islands without bridges to communicate.


When universities needed to collaborate, I connected them

If thinking about isolated computers is sad, imagining that decades ago academic researchers worked with no connection to one another is almost depressing

In October 29th, 1969 at 10h30PM the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute had their network connected. It was the first time two networks were connected through ARPANET, the first network to implement the protocol that became the foundation of the internet, the TCP/IP.

It took a few decades for the internet to become strong and popular, but that autumn night in California, with that first login, was the beginning of the internet as we know it.


When people wanted to keep in touch, I created instant communication

If computers can exchange data instantaneously why do people have to wait for days, or even months, for a letter to arrive on their mailboxes? Maybe this was in Ray Tomlinson's mind in 1972 when he created the email.

With email we can communicate instantaneously with others, sending them a variety of messages like great ideas, manifestos, love letters, jokes, email chains, business offers and even suspicious archives. Humanity fits in one email.


When information multiplied, I helped find the right answer

The first search engines were basically catalogs of sites listed by subject. But as the number of sites kept growing and multiplying those lists started becoming more and more complicated.

No problem: the internet uncomplicated itself once more with the development of modern search engines like Google that organizes information based on its relevance and displays them in a simple interface.

When you ask yourself what would you do without the internet you might also ask what would you do on the internet if there weren't search engines.


When trade wanted to evolve, I drove evolution

The activity of trading goods existed since the beginning of human history and also since the internet began taking its first steps. In 1971, students from Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Massachusetts Institute of Technology used ARPANET to arrange buying an illegal psychoactive substance.

But only in the 80s e-commerce was legalized. In 1982, Minitel videotex terminal belonging to the French post-offices allowed people to buy a few items. In 1984, the American "Electronic Mall" had a directory with electronic products, books, music albums, photo, software and others.

E-commerces as we know today only appeared during the first half of the 90s. The pioneer was the American company Book Stacks Unlimited from Cleveland that started selling books through its website.

In 1995, Jeff Bezos created Amazon and changed the way people shopped online forever, all thanks to the Internet.


When knowledge was closed, I opened it

When Wikipedia launched in 2001, there were other digital encyclopedias like Microsoft Encarta and Britannica around. Both offered digital content but it was necessary to buy a license to access it.

In the year 2000 Richard Stallman proposed the idea of an open encyclopedia, a free software activist and materialized a year later by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder.

Wikipedia's open spirit depends not only on the participation of writers and editors from all over the world, but also on the technology behind Wikipedia: a specific software called "Wiki", created by Ward Cunningham to make the collaborative work online easier.


When people wanted to connect to those who were far, I let them see them

If today you can communicate with your loved ones through webcams, thank the love scientists from the University of Cambridge had for coffee. They created the first online video transmission in 1991 to know when the coffee from the machine they had on their laboratory was ready.

In 1994 the first commercial webcam was released. From that day on, those video conference scenes from psy-fi movies became a reality.

In 1996, an American student called Jennifer Ringley launched the site that became the precursor of vlogs and reality shows: JenniCam, transmitting images from Jennifer's house 24/7 until 2003.

In 2003 Skype was launched, contributing for the popularization of video calls for the past 12 years and making webcams fulfill their true calling: bringing closer people that are far apart.


When phones made nothing but calls, I made them smart

The first commercial mobile phone was the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x. In 1984 it was the state of art phone. But for our current standards it would be nothing but an useless phone because it only made voice calls.

Only during the second half of the 90s the idea of a smartphone was developed: a mobile phone working like a computer. Japan was the first country that smartphones were widely adopted with the NTT Docomo in the beginning of the year 2000. Later Blackberry became a sensation in the United States.

But it was in 2007 when the iPhone was launched that the world knew the definite version of a smartphone: intuitive interface, touchscreen and a variety of apps allowing you to do anything you want before thinking about calling someone.

The rise of the smartphones influenced our culture: the way we listen to music, watch videos, interact with our relatives, consume news changed forever. Smartphones are the revolution inside the Internet revolution.


When the oppressed had no way to protest, I gave them voice

Many people criticize online activism, calling it Slacktivism (slacker + activism).

Those people would think differently if they were a Zapatista in Mexico or one of the Seattle protests organizers in the 90's; an Iranian angry with the presidential elections in 2009; an Arab tired of the government’s tyranny during the Arab Spring in 2010, an angry Spanish on May 15th, 2011; or a Brazilian that occupied the street in July 2013 protests.

Without the Internet, all of those acts that strongly influenced the politics, economics and culture could have happened - but their strength and reach wouldn't have been the same.


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