Depending on how you count it, today is the Internet’s 40th birthday. On September 2nd, 1969 a team at UCLA transferred some data from one computer to another using nothing but an ordinary looking cable. 40 years later and the Internet, along with miles and miles of cable, is an integral part of many of our lives.
I can still remember the first time I used the web. It was the summer of 1995 and I was with my friend Glenn in one of Iona College’s computer labs. I was just hanging around, waiting for Glenn to finish up when he suggested I amuse myself by surfing the web (remember, we still used that phrase in 1995!). Not having any idea what one was supposed to do on the Internet I decided to visit the Web site of the college I was soon going to be a freshman at (Lehigh, in case you’re wondering).
A lot has changed in just those 13 years since I first used the web, let alone the 40 years since that team at UCLA set in motion the events that eventually led to ARPAnet, which in turn led to the Internet. Comcast launched our first broadband product in 1996 with only a few thousand customers, now we’re the largest residential ISP with something like 15.3 million customers. A decade ago we offered a top speed of 1.5 MBps and people wondered what they would do with all that speed. Now, thanks to DOCSIS 3.0, we have speeds up to 50Mbps, though some people still wonder what to do with all those speed. Sprinkle on all that content that is available online (including video), all those people building a myriad of applications and services on top of the Internet and 40 years later the Internet is a very different beast. I’m certain those folks in that UCLA lab had no idea what was in store for the world when they set up their equipment.
Let’s take a moment out of our busy days and thank that team at UCLA for helping to give birth to this crazy thing we call the Internet. I don’t know what I would do without it (other than look for another job, since it is very tough to blog without the Internet).
What was the first Web site you ever visited and when? Tell us in the comments.