Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Birds, Booze and Tim Berners Lee - Memories of the World Wide Web

Happy 25th Birthday WWW

Like many organizations across the globe today iomart is celebrating the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web.

iomart would not exist had a young British computer scientist called Tim Berners-Lee not submitted his idea for allowing scientists to share information to his manager at CERN. Today our data centers provide the physical infrastructure that enables start-ups, SMEs and large enterprises to deliver their services online.

To mark this anniversary we asked our staff to share their memories of the early days of the World Wide Web and we’ll come to their recollections in a moment. But one member of our board really was there at its birth.

Ian Ritchie CBE is Non Executive chairman of iomart but back in the early 1980s he founded Office Workstations Limited (OWL).  OWL was the first and largest supplier of Hypertext/Hypermedia authoring tools for personal computers which customers used to implement large interactive multimedia documentation systems in the automobile, defense, publishing, finance, and education sectors. This is how Ian describes encountering what would become the World Wide Web.

“In late November 1990 I was attending a technical conference on Hypertext at Versailles near Paris when I was approached by a pleasant, rather earnest, young researcher,” he recalls. “'Are you Ian Ritchie?', he asked, and when I said I was he introduced himself as Tim Berners-Lee and said he wanted to speak with me. We retired to the bar and over a beer he told me about his project - the World Wide Web. My first reaction was that this was a very ambitious name for a system which only existed on his computer in his office at CERN - it was first made available to the rest of CERN the very next month in December 1990.

“He was, however, totally convinced that his system would take over the world one day and people everywhere would use it to communicate with each other,” Ian remembers. “At the time the Internet was not open to everyone but was restricted to not-for-profit public bodies such as universities, government, defense and science researchers, such as those at CERN. He wanted my company, OWL, to write a browser for his system, as he didn't have an effective mechanism for viewing his documents. Our hypertext system had multiple fonts, graphics and layout and his was restricted to plain text only. However, he wasn't able to commission any work and I was running a commercial company and really couldn't undertake unpaid work of this kind. I told this story in a TED talk -  http://bit.ly/1otPUAY .

“So we passed on the opportunity. I first saw the Mosaic browser for the World Wide Web demonstrated by Marc Andreeson at the Hypertext conference in Seattle in 1993. He had developed it at the publicly funded National Center for SuperComputer Applications (NCSA) in Champaign, Illinois, and all subsequent Web browsers have been based on this work.  It is ironic that the World Wide Web, which has disrupted almost all of the world's commercial processes, entirely originated from publicly funded research programs.”

So our chairman can actually claim he was there at the birth of the World Wide Web. What about our employees? Well, some (older!) staff remember those first days of dial up and some (much younger!) weren’t actually born. However what they all share is the experience of the impact it has had on the world we now live and work in where two out of every five people are ‘connected.’

When asked ‘What was your first memory of the web?’ the overarching memory is the noise that accompanied those first dial up modem connections. “It was like a donkey in pain!” says one, remembering that you could go and make a coffee and run a bath in the time it took to connect.

The NCSA Mosaic browser that Ian saw back in 1993 was pretty popular it seems, although you had to wait for the web pages to load one line at a time. The browser was accessed on “stone age Packard Bell” and Pentium PCs. “I remember thinking how slow and useless this was,” says one of our senior managers.  

While it was exciting – “It was so much better than teletext” says another - it didn’t foster much brotherly or sisterly love. “My first memory was having to unplug the house phone and my five sisters going mental because the line was always engaged,” while another was caught out by his older brother who handed him a huge bill for the ISDN line that he’d been using to chat to people in CompuServ chat rooms!

Grandparents are often seen as slow adopters of technology today, back then they came in quite handy. “I got a Yahoo ID (which I still have today), set up my 56k modem and hooked it into my gran’s phone line. Then of course arrived the £600 phone bill as Demon Internet were only providing penny per minute Internet access at the time. Thankfully Freeserve eventually released unlimited dial up internet!”

Freeserve seems to have been the way a lot of us accessed the web in those early days. Internet chat rooms were the place to hang out and from there many of our older staff started building their first web sites.  

Many first memories were chatting with friends and potential partners via MSN Messenger and AOL. “That’s how I met my first girlfriend,” says one, while others just asked Jeeves, “I was told it answered questions and remember being very disappointed with its answers!”

What did we first use the web for? “There wasn’t much on the web at the time. It was mainly government stuff and a couple of corporates,” others looked at the NASA and the FBI websites. “Curiosity of America the Super Power was the first thing me and my mates wanted to look at.  We honestly thought we were going to find proof of aliens or something!”

Favorite websites today include Google, BBC News,  Wikipedia, Gmail, You Tube, Twitter, Soundcloud.com, imgur and Failblog.org,  “Nothing makes you feel smarter than the browsing the consolidation of some of the silliest things human beings ever attempted.” While one older site is dear to the heart of a particular iomart staffer,Yahoo Chat without a doubt. I met my wife on there you know, long before it was fashionable to meet people online.”

So what has the World Wide Web given us? For many of our staff the biggest benefits have been for learning and connecting with their families and friends wherever they happen to be in the world.  Others say: “I can find really niche music from wannabe artists who don’t receive much press, and they can get feedback from folk like me”; “I no longer have to use Yellow Pages or call BT when looking for a telephone number”; “I see the doctor less”; “Amazon. I hate going shopping!”; and “Ebooks….Because….well, have you ever tried carrying 10,000 books at once?!”

It has definitely given us careers in one of the fastest growing industries. While that might be a career that could have turned out differently for one senior employee - “Without it I wouldn’t have run my own business for almost ten years. Such a shame I wasn’t 18 when I first came across the web, I would be a millionaire by now!” – for all of us it has created more jobs and opportunities.

Has it changed our lives? “Well, it hasn’t - it’s just become part of my life. I’ve lived with the internet, longer than I’ve lived without it.”

The response to Tim Berner-Lee’s idea from his boss to his idea all those years ago was, “Vague, but exciting.” That doesn’t even get near to describing what has happened as a result. Ensuring that the World Wide Web was made royalty-free meant it could be used by everyone and it has revolutionized our lives ever since, allowing a whole new type of business and way of living to develop.

So thank you Sir Tim from everyone here at iomart!

More Stories By Phil Worms

Phil is a 30 year IT industry veteran with a passion for education and has personally led many school and higher education initiatives designed to engage young people and showcase the broad range of exciting and fulfilling roles in IT.

A full and varied career has seen Phil move through various senior product/project and marketing positions with companies as diverse as Centrica plc, One.Tel, VarTec Telecom and iomart Group plc. Phil is working on a project to create an intergenerational social hub that will celebrate creativity and achievement in Helensburgh, birthplace of television pioneer John Logie Baird.The Heroes Centre will provide people of all ages with the new media and content creation skills required to engage fully in the digital world. Follow his progress on Twitter and on Facebook

@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. Jack Norris reviews best practices to show how companies develop, deploy, and dynamically update these applications and how this data-first...
Intelligent Automation is now one of the key business imperatives for CIOs and CISOs impacting all areas of business today. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Boeggeman, VP Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, will talk about how business value is created and delivered through intelligent automation to today’s enterprises. The open ecosystem platform approach toward Intelligent Automation that Ayehu delivers to the market is core to enabling the creation of the self-driving enterprise.
Consumers increasingly expect their electronic "things" to be connected to smart phones, tablets and the Internet. When that thing happens to be a medical device, the risks and benefits of connectivity must be carefully weighed. Once the decision is made that connecting the device is beneficial, medical device manufacturers must design their products to maintain patient safety and prevent compromised personal health information in the face of cybersecurity threats. In his session at @ThingsExpo...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Because IoT devices are deployed in mission-critical environments more than ever before, it’s increasingly imperative they be truly smart. IoT sensors simply stockpiling data isn’t useful. IoT must be artificially and naturally intelligent in order to provide more value In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Engineering System Architect at Greenwave Systems, will discuss how IoT artificial intelligence (AI) can be carried out via edge analytics and machine learning techn...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence a...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, discussed new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of security i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera offers a radically new approach to data management, where innovative software makes data infrastructure invisible, elastic and able to perform at the highest level. It eliminates hardware lock-in and gives IT organizations the choice to source x86 server nodes, with business model option...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...