The Internet: From then to now?
I’ve now been in the IT industry for 22 years, since starting work in the IT department, at Surrey University in 1988. It amazes me just how much technology has advanced in those years and take into consideration that I was working in the industry, during the heady days of ICL 2904’s, punch card readers, half inch tape and DOS.
I actually feel quite lucky that I’ve had that journey from before Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web to now. However, before contemplating the amazing technology we have at our fingertips, I’d like to take a trip back beyond Berners-Lee, or the beginning of my career. Back to the 19th century and to two inventors that have inspired so many people who followed, to craft the technology we use today. Those people are Charles Babbage and Alexander Graham Bell.
Fighting against the naysayers, Babbage built his difference engine, which was the forerunner to the computers that we use today. His ideas were way ahead of his time, which like many visionaries, wasn’t necessarily a great thing. His ideas and engine were considered by most, as a waste of time and effort and he gradually lost funding as he started to build his 2nd engine. However, his ideas did not fall completely on deaf ears and we are all now benefiting from his genius. Babbage passed on in 1871, but his life overlapped with Bell’s, who had already started on his journey, that would see him create one of the greatest inventions of our time, the telephone. Again, struggling against people who thought his first prototype was nothing more than a clever parlor trick, Bell was determined to follow his dream and he did. Around a 100 years later, Sir Tim Berners-Lee took his idea for something called hypertext and developed the World Wide Web.
Now that we’re here, the web has seen some incredible changes. I remember writing my first website, back in 1994 and since then, I’ve had the pleasure of been involved with some great projects on the internet, so I’d like to thank those people that have forged the path and journey, that I’ve joined over the years.
So where does it go from here? Taking a look at the web at the moment, they are some advanced pages, that are pushing the boundaries of the current technology, from Flash based car configurators, through to data-driven dynamic sites, feeding us with what we’re looking for. We have social networking, where people from all over the world chat, discuss, argue and promote, but what’s next?
Perhaps virtual reality will finally take the stage and by that I’m not talking about virtual shopping or virtual life, I’m talking about fully interactive 3D immersive cyberspace (Thank to William Gibson for that word), that we’ve seen so many times on film. Maybe with the merging of TV and the internet, we can see technology leap forward enough to make the World Wide Web become the foundation for all education and entertainment and I think we’re already getting there.
Whatever’s on the way, the last few years have given me a new lease of life, with regards to technology and the internet in general. I think exciting times are ahead and I feel fortunate to be around and to be part of it all.