Back to the Future

When the World Wide Web exploded on the scene in 1993, it
was heralded as a new communications utopia. It was, early
champions raved, the great information equalizer, leveling the
playing field between powerful corporate interests and upstart
grassroots movements. Everyone?s ideas would flow effortlessly
around the world, spreading values of freedom, diversity, and

Unfortunately, such idealistic visions were quickly
overshadowed by the gold-rush mentality of the dot-com
revolution?less a global village than a gigantic shopping mall.
Perhaps mercifully, that commercial bubble burst in 2000, and many
dot-coms (though not, of course, eBay and the porn sites) were
forced to shutter their doors.

While the last couple years have felt like cyberspace?s
equivalent of the morning after, the Web is now bouncing back with
a new focus that looks a lot like the original idealism that
spurred its growth. We survey some of the new developments in the
following articles.
?The Editors

3,000 B.C.
The history of computers begins about 5,000 years ago in China
with the invention of the abacus.

The first telegraph message, ?What hath God wrought,? is
successfully sent via an iron wire stretching 37 miles between
Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

The transatlantic cable of 1858 carries instantaneous
communications across the ocean for the first time.

Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone, the backbone of
Internet connections today.

Responding to the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, the
Pentagon forms the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an
organization among whose goals is to develop a computer
communications network that can link strategic centers in the event
of nuclear attack.

The Internet is born, as ARPA goes online in December, connecting
research labs at four universities.

Computer scientist Ray Tomlinson of Cambridge, Massachusetts,
invents e-mail and inaugurates the now-ubiquitous @ sign.

Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first state leader to send an

Number of people who host Internet sites breaks 100.

Former Vice-President Al Gore coins the phrase ?information
superhighway.? His father, a former senator, was a principal
architect of the interstate highway system a generation

The term ?Internet? is used for the first time.

Tim Berners-Lee develops hypertext, a new technique for
distributing information on the Internet, which eventually leads to
the World Wide Web.

Writer Jean Armour Polly coins the phrase ?surfing the

Number of Internet hosts breaks one million.

The World Wide Web revolution truly begins as Mosaic (which
eventually develops into Netscape), makes it easy for the average
person to browse the Internet and businesses and media outlets
start to take notice of the Internet.

You can now order a mushroom-and-onion pizza online from Pizza
Hut. The first cyberbank, First Virtual, opens for business. And
The Rolling Stones broadcast the ?Voodoo Lounge? tour over the

Radio HK, the first commercial, 24 hour, Internet-only radio
station starts broadcasting.

The WWW browser war begins, primarily between Microsoft founder
Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad, PLO Leader Yasser Arafat, and Phillipine
President Fidel Ramos meet for 10 minutes in an online interactive
chat session.

On July 8, all Internet traffic records are broken as the NASA Web
site broadcasts images taken by Pathfinder on Mars, generating 46
million hits in one day.

Minnesota? s third-party governor Jesse Ventura says he would not
have been elected had it not been for the Internet.

?E-commerce? becomes the buzzword as Internet shopping rapidly

The number of Internet hosts reaches 150 million.

The British government is thrown for a loop when a list of MI6
special agents is leaked to a UK Web site.

The Internet bubble bursts, causing many dot-coms to close

Like it or not, the market war between the two leading browsers is
over?Internet Explorer is now the fully dominant one.

The first live cybermusical, The Technophobe & The Madman,
debuts on the Internet.

The death knell tolls for Napster after a bankruptcy judge rules
in September that a German company cannot buy the assets of the
troubled file-swapping giant, prompting Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers
to resign and lay off his staff.

Sources: International Data Corporation, the W3C Consortium,
Nielsen/Net Ratings, the Internet Society, Hobbes? Internet

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