“Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information, and communication would be exchanged,” wrote Joshua Bote in USA TODAY October 29, 2019. Those letters were “l” and “o” and perceived as “hello” when the system crashed before the word “login” could be typed. They were sent by a professor at UCLA to another computer at Stanford Research Institute.
At that time only four universities had computers. They were room-sized and required under-floor air conditioning. In 1971, the first email was sent by an MIT researcher and was also the first time the “@” sign was used to designate a specific recipient of a message. I remember the early days when researching medical papers I had to go through a university (@edu) library which would search and produce the Internet address for the requested information.
The World Wide Web (WWW), as we know it, didn’t get invented until 1989 and it was 1991 before the first web page was published. Over the years other services that we are all so familiar with were created, Amazon (1995), Google (1998), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) among others.
Now the internet is as much a part of our lives as driving a car or brushing our teeth. We can access information on any topic, find the answers to burning questions, listen to music and see movies. When I see my granddaughter, a college senior, doing research and taking tests Online, I recall trips to the library and searching through a card catalog. Once the desired journal or paper was located we photocopied it for preparing our research papers. I am glad that she and all students have it easier than we did “back in the day.”
I am sure that I am not alone when I say I love the Internet, warts and all. We know that it can be corrupted, both operationally and politically but we would never go back to a time without the WWW.