Friday, March 03, 2006

That was Then

Note: This entry appeared in my original blog, "Home|Work"

I jokingly refer to myself as a dinosaur with respect to the Web. I remember when it first appeared on the scene back in the early 90's. I was working on a project at the University of Michigan at the time. We were trying to use WAIS to create an art image browser complete with thumbnails and textual information about a variety of pieces of art. Pretty advanced stuff, huh?

One of my officemates at the time, Lee Liming, showed me an early version of NCSA Mosaic, the first widely available graphical web browser. This was an early ancestor of today's Firefox browser. After playing around with it for about an hour I had to go to the professor who was leading our project. WAIS was out. The Web was in. Even back then, before all the fancy graphics, fonts, and blinking text, we could tell that this was really something special.

Not long after, Lee went on a trip to Antarctica. When he returned he built one of the Web's first travelogue sites, including excerpts from his journal and pictures that he had to scan because no one had heard of a digital camera yet. He still has a version of it available today. Remember that when he made this site, he had to do everything by hand. We didn't have Dreamweaver or any of the other website development applications that you can find now. Unlike other dinosaurs, I'm not going to even pretend that we liked it that way!

"Surfing the Web" has changed a bit, too. I remember each day while I ate my lunch I would go check out the site called "What's New on the Web?". Sometimes there were even two new sites! Now, I can barely keep up with what's new on my Google-hosted home page.

What stories do you have of the early days of the Web? Do you remember when AOL first gave its users access to the Web and "every day was September"?

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