Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What's this new-fangled Web?

Facebook is "celebrating 25 years of connecting people", in other words the creation of the World Wide Web.  While true, the statement irks me.

Numerous applications preceded the web to connect people across various international networks:
  • ARPANet mail dates from the 1970's; Clarkson had it by the mid-1980's.
  • Usenet connected people 12 years earlier than the web, in 1979.
  • BitNET RELAY sprang to life 7 years earlier, in 1985.
  • IRC rolled out three years earlier, 1988
For that matter, kew.com was registered before the web existed.

And there's the small matter of an email I received before I even set up kew.com:

Header lines of the first email I ever received from +Katherine Derbyshire,
(in response to a mundane Usenet post I had made; click for a larger version).
Who needs the web?


  1. In 1990, I wrote my program WinBiff to show my email received at a uucp node at MIT, mit-eddie, relayed to my Gateway 386/33 via UUPC.

    1. Ah, yes. Katherine pointed me at a mailing list which got me connected to eddie once I moved to Boston.