Digital archives look back, forward

Digital archives look back, forward has compiled 800 million Usenet messages into a 20-year archive of firsts in computing history up to December 2001.

Among them:

  • June 1981: First mention of what would become Microsoft MS-DOS

  • August 1981: First review of the new 64K, $4,500 IBM PC

  • April 1982: Startup of Sun Microsystems Inc.

  • July 1982: Discussion about what would become the CD-ROM

  • August 1982: Rumors about the Apple Lisa and Macintosh

  • October 1982: Federal Communications Commission approval of the first cellular phone network

  • February 1983: Facsimile machines

  • November 1983: Microsoft Windows

  • February 1984: Microsoft Corp. recruits 'software wizards'

  • January 1985: First discussion of the year 2000 problem

  • January 1986: NASA Challenger shuttle explosion

  • July 1986: First mention of Cisco Systems Inc.

  • January 1987: Announcement of the UUnet public packet-switched network

  • November 1988: First Internet worm

  • February 1989: Internet relay chat

  • September 1989: Formation of American Online Inc.

  • August 1991: Tim Berners-Lee's discussion of the World Wide Web

  • October 1991: Linus Torvalds' announcement of what would become Linux

  • March 1993: Marc Andreessen's Mosaic announcement

  • June 1994: WebCrawler launched

  • October 1994: Marc Andreessen's announcement of what would become Netscape

  • December 1995: AltaVista launched

  • March 1998: Google launched

  • May 1998: First mention of Mac OS X

Along somewhat similar lines, the Imagining the Internet database, sponsored by the Pew Internet and American Life Project at Elon University in North Carolina, presents early-1990s forecasts by experts as well as a current survey about the Internet's next decade through 2014.

Two-thirds of those surveyed in late 2004 said they expect 'at least one devastating attack on network information infrastructure or the country's power grid in the next 10 years.' Some said the attacks will become a regular part of life.

Fifty-nine percent predicted increased government surveillance as computing devices are embedded in appliances, cars, phones and clothing.

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