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The Information Age
Network Essentials
Bert Lutman


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The Information Age (2)
The Information Age (3)




Meet a member of the "Sinclair generation" of computing enthusiasts who cut their teeth in the early 1980's on the ZX 80 and ZX Spectrum, the first truly affordable home computers (with apologies to Commodore 64 enthusiasts !!)


It was the possibilities offered by these devices for accessing information that fired the interest of many users, and it wasn't long before enthusiasts were connecting to the internet via dial-up accounts (often on university servers) using 300bps modems. (For the benefit of the "plug 'n' play generation" the 300bps modem was a device attached to the home computer and switched on manually as soon as the control signals from the server's modem could be heard on the telephone handset). A typical dial-up modem now is 15 times faster, and an entry-level broadband connection at least 150 times faster, than a 300bps modem.


This same technology was also used for the Bulletin Board Systems which became very popular in the 1980's 


Internet users in the UK in those early days were largely confined to universities; a few large companies (particularly in telecommunications and defence) and some government departments. E-mail was becoming a popular means of communication for academics, and researchers increasingly used tools like Gopher, Veronica, Archie,and FTP to find and distribute information held by universities and research institutions. Find an explanation of these terms here


In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, which would allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. This work started in October 1990, and the program "WorldWideWeb" was first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.Through 1991 and 1993, Berners-Lee continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URLs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.


Peter Burden pioneered www technologies at the University of Wolverhampton, and by the mid-1990's many of his colleagues in SCIT were publishing their home pages on the Unix server. Mine, published in 1994/5 complained about the web being slow, but concluded "I guess it has a future" !!!



Copyright 2008 [Fen Tyler]