I discovered yesterday that the first edition of ‘The Internet for Dummies‘ was published in 1993.
But the internet barely existed in 1993!
Yeah, yeah, I know about Arpanet, Darpanet, Janet, and usenet in the 1970s and 80s, but it was 1991 when Berners-Lee put the first html site on line for academics and scientists to share stuff and the first sensible browser didn’t appear until 1993 when Mosaic was released. Mosaic was developed by Marc Andreessen and was the precursor to Netscape. If you want a sweetly retro experience, you can still download it here. Well I say you can download it. If you follow the link and rummage around you’ll be forcibly reminded that in those days only geeks were good to go.
I was in fact aware of the Internet in 1993, but only tangentially. I’d spent the very early 1990s working for a company which sent emails to fax machines. In those dim and far off days the network which became the Internet was just one Public Data Network among, oh, a few, and the service we provided may or may not have been using the Internet as a carrier. My employers also sold modems (9.6k, 800 quid a pop) with CompuServe CDs in the boxes but we removed the CompuServe CDs because, let’s face it, even in 1992 CompuServe’s communities and forums knocked fluffy bunnies off the email to fax service we offered.
Can you remember which was the first website you saw? I can’t. I suspect that it was on a machine in a customer’s office in 1995 or so, but I really cannot remember. We were certainly using the internet by 1996 but more for email (email@example.com) than for browsing. Browsing was a bugger until search had been developed, and Alta Vista and HotBot didn’t arrive until late in 1996, with Yahoo barely 12 months earlier. .
In a 1999 CV I proudly describe the first website I built thusly:
I designed & built this site in MS FrontPage. The site includes animated gifs, animated text, and HTML forms. This is a 21 page commercial site. The site is profitable and generates regular high quality enquiries most of which lead to sales.
FrontPage, eh? Blimey O’Reilly. The second site I built using Notepad, just to make sure that I could.
As I said at the start, this little meander down the information memory lane was entirely sparked by the fact that ‘The Internet for Dummies’ was first published in 1993.
This being 2008, it took me 15 minutes to track down and buy a copy. I am looking forward to reading it, now the future’s here.