Dr Plokta (drplokta) wrote,
Dr Plokta
drplokta

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A Decade Online


Give or take a couple of weeks. As far as I can tell from Google (and wouldn't a complete permanent freely searchable Usenet archive have surprised everyone ten years ago), this was my first Usenet post, to rec.arts.sf.written, on the 8th of July 1993.

At the time, I was using a 14.4kbps modem and a PC with a 25MHz 486SX, 4MB of RAM and a 100MB hard disk. Now I'm on 512kbps ADSL and a Mac Powerbook with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk. Moore's law is supposed to predict doubling every two years, which would imply that I'd now have 460 kbps of bandwidth, an 800MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM and a 3GB hard disk. The PC was a couple of years old in 1993, while the Powerbook is only eight months old, but I think it's safe to say that the tech industry has been doing rather better than Moore's Law.

I opened a Demon account, when Demon was the UK's biggest ISP with about 1,500 members, because they had a POP in Warrington (carefully chosen to be a local call from both Liverpool and Manchester) which was charge band A (an intermediate rate between local and long distance that doesn't exist any more) from Chester.

I was using the MS-DOS-based KA9Q Internet stack with SMTP email, Usenet and ftp access. It wasn't until later in 1993 that I started to experiment with Winsock stacks and a couple of beta versions of Windows programs called Mosaic and Cello that allowed one to browse something called the world-wide web, using some obscure protocol called http --
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<lj-user="bohemiancost">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<lj-cut text="Give or take a couple of weeks.">
Give or take a couple of weeks. As far as I can tell from Google (and wouldn't a complete permanent freely searchable Usenet archive have surprised everyone ten years ago), <a href="http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=742167914snz%40moose.demon.co.uk">this</a> was my first Usenet post, to <a href="news:rec.arts.sf.written" title="rec.arts.sf.written">rec.arts.sf.written</a>, on the 8th of July 1993.

At the time, I was using a 14.4kbps modem and a PC with a 25MHz 486SX, 4MB of RAM and a 100MB hard disk. Now I'm on 512kbps ADSL and a Mac Powerbook with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard disk. Moore's law is supposed to predict doubling every two years, which would imply that I'd now have 460 kbps of bandwidth, an 800MHz CPU, 128MB of RAM and a 3GB hard disk. The PC was a couple of years old in 1993, while the Powerbook is only eight months old, but I think it's safe to say that the tech industry has been doing rather better than Moore's Law.

I opened a Demon account, when Demon was the UK's biggest ISP with about 1,500 members, because they had a POP in Warrington (carefully chosen to be a local call from both Liverpool and Manchester) which was charge band A (an intermediate rate between local and long distance that doesn't exist any more) from Chester.

I was using the MS-DOS-based KA9Q Internet stack with SMTP email, Usenet and ftp access. It wasn't until later in 1993 that I started to experiment with Winsock stacks and a couple of beta versions of Windows programs called Mosaic and Cello that allowed one to browse something called the world-wide web, using some obscure protocol called http -- <lj-user="bohemiancost"> couldn't see the point.

O'Reilly was just starting up the <a href="http://members.aol.com/andycamps/gnn/home.htm">Global Network Navigator</a> site, which was intended to be a manual catalogue of every web page. Back in 1993, it pretty well <i>was</i> a catalogue of every web page, but the explosive growth of the web very quickly outstripped their ability to keep up, and in fact I was astonished to discover that it still exists, after a fashion, when I Googled for it a few minutes ago. The verb in that last sub-clause should give some kind of subtle hint as to what has replaced it. And in fact, they were doomed from the start, since "I GNNed for it" was never going to enter the language. But given more resources back at the beginning, they could have been Yahoo.

At the 2003 Worldcon, ConFrancisco, I went to what was pretty well the last @! Worldcon party, open to anyone who had an email address. This year, I suspect you could poll a hundred people at random at Torcon and fail to find one who didn't have an email address of some kind.

On 12 April 1994, Cantor & Siegel posted an advertisement for immigration services to pretty well every Usenet group, and the term "spam" entered the language in a context other than dangerous pink lunch-meat. And don't we all wish that spam hadn't caught on as much as the web did. In 1993 I was getting no spam email. I'm now over 500 per day, not counting my work email account (which gets much less, to be fair).

Since 1993, many things have changed. I've divorced, moved from Chester to London and changed job four times. But I can still be emailed as mike@moose.demon.co.uk -- although I recommend that you don't, since it's 99.9% spam these days, and heavily filtered by the wonderful <a href="http://www.spambayes.org">Spambayes</a>.

So what effect has the Internet had on my life? Well, without the Internet I certainly wouldn't be seeing who I'm seeing, living where I'm living, or doing the job I'm doing. E-mail is a pretty essential glue to hold long-distance relationships together. I moved to London to work in a dot-com startup. And I'm still working for a dot-com, although I've been through two previous less successful ones. In fact, I run the servers for the number 16 UK web-site (that's based on number of pages served to UK users from a UK-based site), and that obscure protocol called http is my bread and butter, around fifteen million times per day.
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