Here's an interesting bit of history, adapted from an article in Computerworld sent to me by my Dad with some editing to include his personal experiences.
Thirty-five years- not a long chunk of the timeline we call 'history.' But it was 35 years ago this month that the Arpanet -- the initial piece of today's Internet -- began to go live. Sure, that's a fuzzy way of saying it. But it took a while.
On Aug. 30, 1969, the first Arpanet node was set up at the University of California, Los Angeles. The second node wasn't ready at the Stanford Research Institute until Oct. 1. And the first attempt to log on across the Arpanet didn't happen until Oct. 29. (For the record, it crashed the network.)
I had been at AT&T about a year, and the actual implementation of Arpanet was barely recognized in Big-T's internal bulletins. I doubt that any of the designers ever imagined what we know today as the Internet.
1969 was an all-around great year for technology. Ken Thompson at AT&T's Bell Labs wrote the first version of Unix that year. Ted Codd defined the relational database. Three IBM researchers -- Charles Goldfarb, Edward Mosher and Raymond Lorie -- lent their initials to GML, a distant ancestor of today's HTML and XML. Xerox's Gary Starkweather combined photocopier technology with laser imaging to create the first laser printer.
They all changed the face of IT -- and the way IT is used in business. But none has had as dramatic an impact as the Arpanet. The rest changed how we do what we do. The Net changed the paradigm.
The Arpanet's impact really is qualitatively different from those of the other technologies. Unix, relational databases, markup languages and laser printers proved their value by replacing existing operating systems, databases, text-coding schemes and printers. They let us do the same things as before, only better.
But the Arpanet -- and the Internet -- changed the way we think. With the Net, IT went from being about number crunching and data processing to being about communications -- between machines and between people. After 35 years, the network isn't just the computer as Sun Microsystems used to say. With Web services, the network is the application. With network-attached storage, it's the disk drive. With voice over IP, it's the telephone. Add the Web, and the network is the radio and the TV. It's the conference room and the office. It's the retail store and the research library.
With the Net, physical collocation is no longer required (and physical security is no longer enough.) And off shoring of information jobs becomes possible. Criminals halfway around the world attacking our systems became inevitable. And on the Web, every design flaw in our systems is exposed to customers, with no sales clerks or customer service agents to cover for us.
But the Net also lets our companies do business with customers they would never have approached before. It opens up new ways of cutting costs and adding value. It has dragged IT out of the back office and the glass house and made it indispensable to every step in the business process – from supply chains, logistics and manufacturing to sales, cross marketing and customer care.
After 35 years, the Net really has brought us a long way. And all along the way, I got to be not only an eyewitness, but also a player (admittedly a bit-player, but a player nonetheless.)
I hope you can find time, every-so-often, to stop and notice your part in history.
I thought it poignant enough that I posted it to an announcement board at work. It's interesting to see how far it has come.