For those of you who follow our posts regularly, you may have noticed that we did not blog on Tuesday…and we apologize to our dozen or so loyal readers! Our Internet access experienced some “technical difficulties” which prevented us from blogging. Today, we got new and improved Internet service installed, which led us to ponder the circuitry which led us to the wondrous thing we call the World Wide Web.
So, we’re celebrating our newly restored web access with a little review of the all the things we now take for granted in our daily lives, thanks to the Information Superhighway — it’s quite the entertaining journey!
I’ll skip all the techno-speak that reads like a bowl of alphabet soup on steroids and just hit some of the fun stuff…
- Bet you think we’re going to cut straight to the mid-20th Century, right? WRONG! It all starts back in the 1800s with the advent of the telegraph system! The simple system of dots and dashes — Thank You, Samuel Morse — opened to the world the first idea of transmitting information data between two points.
- Skip ahead a few…decades, that’s right…to the revolutionary Transatlantic Cable laid in the 1850s which reduced the amount of time it took for the New World to send a message to Europe. That first message, sent on August 16, 1858 began the start of global communication. Before that time, any message had to travel by ship for 10 days to reach The Continent…the cable reduced that to a few short minutes!
- Okay, we finally jump into the 20th Century with the development of the computer mid-century. These were NOT the friendly little desktops most of our readers first remember using, or even the geek-elite Commodore 64. These were monstrous mainframes consuming huge spaces in sterile, isolated environments — predominately in education and government facilities.
- This is where the alphabet soup comes into play: ARPANET, DARPA, MIT, CYCLADES, TCP/IP, NSF, CSNET, ISP, IPTO, UUCP…see, I told you it was alphabet soup!
- In those early days, we did not have Windows operating systems (OS) and computers were little gray boxes, with black screens and green blinking cursors and Courier-font type.
- Which brings us to the first genuine emoticon in 1982, which we still use today: 🙂 — colon, dash, close parenthesis
- While some of us may think that email became a side outgrowth of the Internet — which did not become the World Wide Web until 1990 when a code writer coined the term — email comprised 75% of the earliest use of the then-ARPANET traffic!
- For those of us who were early adopters, CompuServe represented a means of emailing and accessing the Internet. However, the addresses could be challenging: 1863.48572@CompuServe.net and access time was bought by the minute or hour!
- Now, a few letters that some of you may remember — and still use! — AOL. This was the first time portions of the Internet became accessible to the everyday user. How many of you remember the free AOL discs that would arrive endlessly in your mailbox? Not email Inboxes but those old-fashioned things that hang by your front door! The abundance of AOL CDs spawned an entire cottage craft industry to come up with uses for all those CDs lying around the house.
- We still used the ever-popular 🙁 dial-up connections in those days, too! For those of you who still watch “You’ve Got Mail” when it reruns, some of you might be confused by that odd series of clicks, hums and buzzes that occur every time Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan sits down to email each other: calling Shop Girl or NY188! That, my children, was a dial-up connection!
- And, while we’re on the subject of email, the very first SPAM hit Inboxes in…wait for it…1988! It was dubbed “The Morris Worm” after its originator, Robert Tappan Morris.
- Once the web opened up to average users, the explosion began:
- Search engines
- Web cams
- Web browsers
- Domain names and extensions: .com, .net, .gov, .org, .edu, .mil…and more are added each day!
- Video streaming
- Which brings us almost to where we are now…the world of social media and blogs!
Bet you thought I wouldn’t be able to tie this all up together! Without all these amazing advances, the random thoughts of Smiling Sammy would just be ideas roaming around in a furry big yellow head — and you might not even know who or what a Smiling Sammy was!
These daily Web-Logs i.e. Blogs and our extended network of Friends, Fans, Followers, Connections and Foursquare Pals would not even exist. The Smile Center would be a local dental practice in San Antonio that no one other than our patients and a few neighbors had even heard of and our world would not be as connected. For this — and restored Internet service — we give thanks this day! So buckle up and c’mon along with us on the Information Superhighway…it’s the ride of a lifetime.