Wed, 16 Apr 2003 17:46:57 GMT

Mother of invention. How the Mosaic browser triggered a digital revolution. [CNET] How many remember Mosaic? The first time I saw it running was on a Mac in the Graduate Student Union's office at Trinity College, and I was just blown away. Thanks to 1) being a student with academic access to computers, and 2) having an academic father also with internet access back when long distance calls from Ireland were *really* expensive; and 3) having gone out with various computer programmers [grin — I've always liked computer programmers…!], I'd been using the internet for several years, belonged to some mailing lists, knew how to ftp and had mangled emails with just about every email package going at the time (ooooh, remember PINE?). FTP had really amazed me — that you could go look in the computer files of another computer halfway around the world, and download them to your computer!! (I know, I know; but I wasn't an embryonic hacker, really).

Then along came Mosaic. “You have to check this out,” said one of the computer science postgrads on the GSU committee, turning on the Mac. Whoa! Hyperlinks! Gussied-up text, and colours, and little images! Bye-bye, command line interface. I used to go up to the office at night and look at ALL the new “What's Cool” sites, which might be about 10, and which were probably ALL the new websites that had come into being that day in the whole world. It was a gas. Not too long after that I tried repeatedly to get the, .net or .org url, but those were already gone. The idea that there would ever be a browser war, or web-related IPOs, or even [gasp!] weblogs would have seemed pretty impossible. What a long, strange trip it's been…

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there are all manner of historical claims, but are any of them really history in the end?