1 EAGLETON NOTES: Happy Birthday to the Web

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Happy Birthday to the Web

Today is the 10,000th day of the Web. Put another way the Web is 27 years and about 4 months old.

On day 1,208 the dial-up melody rang in our ears and, since then, in the ears of anyone who watches a movie from that era where emails are involved. 

However all this is fairly academic for most of us because the use of emails didn't really become relatively commonplace until the mid 1990s. Hotmail, for example, started in 1996/7.

I wonder when the WWW is viewed 100 or 1000 years from now how significant it will be regarded. 

When I was very young my maternal grandparents lived in a large house where the main power was gas and the heating was largely coal. The wireless (the name in those days for a radio) was powered by an accumulator. The accumulator (a type of electrical battery which can be charged and discharged and recharged many times) would be collected by a local company and recharged every couple of weeks. They had a vacuum cleaner which was huge and not particularly portable and was powered by a person who pumped a handle rather like this one only significantly larger. It was a two-person operation.


I often talked with my grandmother in later years (bearing in mind that she died 45 years ago at the age of 93) of the huge changes that had taken place in her lifetime.

In year 1887 when my grandmother was born the first British motor car was just about appearing. In 1971 the motor car with all its technology as we know it today was not even a dream. When she died the personal computer wasn't known never mind the World Wide Web. She did live to see the first moon landing (in 1969). Ironically the computer in the Apollo had a miniscule amount of the computing power of the simplest of mobile phones today.

The changes that have appeared in my lifetime sometimes blow my mind. I wonder if the changes that my son and subsequent generations will see will be as huge. Of course I will never know.

28 comments:

  1. You should speak with my Dad about all the changes he has seen in his lifetime. (He was born in 1927.) I think one of the things that he has totally embraced is the cell phone. (Mobile phone to you!) Also, he likes the internet, how he can look things up for whatever he wants to research. He doesn't have a computer, he just calls me! :-)

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    1. Kay my Mother who was born in 1909 and died at the age of 93 had also embraced the cellphone (living as I did in New Zealand as well as Scotland I tend to find calling it a cellphone more natural). She thought it was wonderful that when I was in the outback of Australia or in the very north of Canada I could still call her every evening to find out how she was.

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  2. The one comment I remember from my grandma is that she was born before airplanes and as kids they wondered what it would be like to fly. I don't know if she ever got a chance to fly or not.

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    1. Red neither my grandparents nor my parents ever flew. Apart from intercontinental air travel living on a Scottish Island has meant that air travel around the islands as well as to and from the mainland was, for many years until I retired, almost a weekly event.

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  3. It saddens me that both my parents didn't live long enough to use either a laptop or a digital camera. They would have loved them.

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    1. Cro I'd never really thought about that. As a person who spent every moment she could reading and writing my mother would have loved a laptop. My father was a photographer and would, undoubtedly, have embraced digital photography.

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    2. Your parents would have made a fantastic blogging couple!

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  4. Going all phylosphical today. I, too, often think about the changes that have taken place in my lifetime and that of my parents. I had an aunt who remembers the first steam train in England. It is also interesting to realise that my grandsons never new a life before mobile phones and iPads.

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    1. Diane it often astonishes me the things that even I now take for granted which were not available when I was young.

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  5. One of my recurring dreams is to have a telephone call - just one - to a great grandparent so I could ask them why on earth did he do this and why did his sister do that and ... and .... ! Another dream is to show a certain great great grandparent, a Dr, the wonders of the modern world. And how to explain them!

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    1. That would be wonderful wouldn't it Nancy.

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    2. There's a woman who lives on our street who is ninety six years old. She has lived in the same house since she was four years old. At first there were no cars on the street and everybody had coal fires. Nobody had a telephone and of course there was no television. No one ate curry or Chinese stir fries or pasta. There were corner shops for groceries and the milk was brought round by horse and cart. In such a short amount of time there has been an amazing amount of change.

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    3. YP the milk, bread and coal were brought round by horse drawn cart when I was a child too. I use to get to ride up front on the bread van. The horse just walked on as needed whilst the breadman delivered the bread. Imagine the health and safety issues that would raise nowadays: a driverless road vehicle. Ah. Plus ça change and all that.

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    4. You were the bread man's mascot like that little boy in the old Hovis ads... "Don't just say brown say Hovis."

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  6. I have loved computers since the appearance of the first BBC model in schools. In the years before my retirement from teaching, I worked in schools where each classroom had an interactive whiteboard, which I thought was brilliant. The children, however, took them entirely for granted.

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    1. Jenny I have never even seen an interactive whiteboard!

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  7. My life has not yet lasted 50 years and still I have seen so many changes. When I was a teenager in the 1980s, there were no mobile phones, no CDs, no DVDs, no emails, no internet, no facebook, google and no ebay. To arrange something with your friends, you went by their house after school and talked to them, or (rarely) you rang them on the landline.
    To buy or sell secondhand, you went to a fleamarket/jumble sale. To write to your friends and family members, you took pen to paper and bought a stamp.
    You took 36 photos on one film roll during your holidays, and by the time you had the film developed, it was always a surprise how (and if!) they turned out.
    There were 3 TV channels when I was a child, and then with satellite TV, it seemed unreal to have soooo many channels all of a sudden. Music was sometimes recorded by air from the radio on our little white plastic tape recorder, and I only knew two or three people who owned a video recorder.
    When you needed to find out something, you asked someone... or went to the library.

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    1. Meike I can relate to all that you say (but then I'm a lot older). I still write real letters with a real fountain pen and send them by snail mail.

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  8. I often wonder that too, Graham. As my eldest son says, everything we really need had been invented by the 1970s, and I think I agree with him. Letters are a thing of the past, and yesterday I was nearly knocked over by three teenagers bowling along with their noses buried in their mobiles. Gosh, I sound soooo old.....

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    1. Frances I recall the discussion on your blog about everything we need having already been invented by the 1970s. Need is a strange concept though. Did we really need the wheel?

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  9. I'm happy to join in the celebrations of the web :) When I went to secretary school in 1975, we still only had one electric typewriter in the classroom, which we had to take turns to use (the rest of us had to use old mechanical ones). And at my first secretarial job there was still no photocopier or fax machine. There was a telex machine (remember those?) and when an order came in, that was so exciting that the whole office staff often used to gather to check it out! ... My dad, being an engineer, did embrace the computer technology (but was not able to keep up with it in later years as dementia set in). My mum, although she loved both to read and write (and also to look things up in encyclopedias), never did learn to use the computer (nor a digital camera or mobile phone).

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    1. I can well remember telex machines Monica now you have reminded me although I confess that I'd lost them in my memory banks in the mists of time.

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  10. I recently wrote to my only remaining aunt thinking it would be nice for her to receive a letter. She rang me last weekend saying she can't be bothered with writing when there is a phone, especially now that it's not a party line. She hasn't a computer but tells me a 'switched on' resident at her retirement village prints out knitting patterns for her. (How wonderful, she says!) She is struggling with a new washing machine with flashing lights and annoying beeps - I can remember standing at her side as a little girl while she lifted the heavy, pure white sheets from the copper by the creek. I wonder if my grandchildren know what a copper is/was. Must ask.

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    1. Pauline I can recall the gas-heated copper in the washing cellar in my grandparent's home. And the washboard so beloved of skiffle groups in later years.

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  11. My grandparents had a wireless that was the dominant piece in the living room. Dinner had to be finished by 7pm each night for Granddad to goin and listen to the news. I feel so fortunate to have lived in these times and witnessed the changes brought about because of the Internet. What is to come is probably unimaginable for us older folk.

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    1. Carol the wireless was a very important piece in the living room of my parents' house. I suppose it occupied the same role that televisions tend to occupy these days. I had my own crystal radio in my bedroom and could listen to Radio Luxembourg (which will mean nothing to you) when I eventually had a small transistor radio.

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    2. I listened to Radio Luxemburg on a small transistor radio back in my teens too :)

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  12. Much has changed since I entered this world...all of it not by my hands or mind!!!

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