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The Marketing Web Pages for Space Jam and You’ve Got Mail are also still up at their Original URLs

 

 

The 1996 Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny vehicle Space Jam and 1998’s You’ve Got Mail were released at the dawn of the Internet marketing age, and so it’s great for future historians that both websites are still available and more or less unchanged. Both sites are marked with the aesthetics of the age – -Space Jam more garish and You’ve Got Mail more understated, in keeping with their tones and intended audience — and they provide valuable insight into how people who were just starting to figure out this whole “Internet” thing approached it. Not quite as historically significant as that first web page, but still important.

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The First-Ever Web Page is still Up at its Original URL

 

On August 6, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee posted in the Usenet group alt.hypertext about a project he was working on called the World Wide Web — or, as he still referred to it, “W3,” a shorthand that surprisingly never caught on. The first webpage is still there at its original address on the CERN high-energy physics lab’s site, substantially unchaged — no background, no graphics, just plain text and some links to other information about the nascent Web.

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Nigeria, Ghana, and Bangladesh Essentially Skipped the Landline Era

Many nations, particularly in North America and Europe, put a huge amount of resources in the 20th century into connecting nearly all of their citizens to the wonderous telecommunications possibilities of the new phone network. But many poorer regions of the world, often colonized by nations in the first group, could not. Today, that legacy is clear, as fewer that 1% of homes in Nigeria, Ghana, and Bangladesh have landline connections. That doesn’t mean their people are cut off though: in all of those nations more than 85% of citizens have cell phone access.

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Videophones Have Been Commercially Available in the U.S. since the Nixon Administration

 

Just about every vision of the future for the past 100 years has prominently featured video chat, but the prospect has generally been met with tepid enthusiasm at best. The future was here in 1970 when AT&T rolled out the commercial availability of its Picturephone product. Ma Bell proudly assumed that there would be hundreds of thousands of videophones installed across the U.S. within five years, but by 1975 there were only a few hundred. Cost no doubt had a lot to do with it: service was $160 a month — the equivalent of $947 in 2015 dollars — and that only got you 30 minutes of video chat.

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For More than Half of its History, Nintendo Only Made Playing Cards

 

 

Of all the major console manufacturers, Nintendo has the longest corporate history: it was founded in 1889, very early in Japan’s modernization. However, for 67 years it had one products: Hanafuda playing cards. In 1956 Hiroshi Yamauchi, the founder’s gradnson, visited the United States, saw how small the world’s biggest playing card company was, and decided to diversify. After several false starts the company got into electronics. (At least the path from card games to video games is kind of intuitive; erstwhile Finnish cell phone giant Nokia started existence as a paper mill.)

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Your Data can be Corrupted by High-Energy Particles from Outer Space

 

 

Semiconductor electronics have always been prone to “soft errors” — instances where specific data bit or signal is incorrect, but the problem doesn’t seem to arise from an inherent defect with the system itself. After eliminating many possible causes, researchers finally determined that some of these errors are the result of cosmic rays, high-energy particles that strike Earth from outer space and, occasionally, switch bits in the chips in your computer. Possible solutions include keeping all your high-tech equipment in an underground cave, or rebooting.

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Amazon’s Name was Chosen to Come Early in Alphabetical Order

Amazon is a rarity — a modern-day Web giant whose origins lie in the earliest days of the commercial Internet, a history that still marks it. Take its name, for instance. Jeff Bezos originally wanted to call it Cabrera, short for Abracadabra, to express how magical the experience of buying books from them would be. But when the lawyers he was working with to incorporate the company kept mishearing the name as “cadaver,” he realized he needed to change it. It was 1995, and the number one way most people navigated around the web was with Yahoo’s directory, which (prepare to have your mind blown, youths,) listed names in alphabetical order. Amazon’s “A” gave it a leg up.

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Pal Spilling Unplugged the Entire Norwegian Internet in Order to Save it

 

Pal Spilling is a Norwegian computer pioneer whose early interest in computer networking resulted in Norway getting the first ARPANET node outside of the United States, in 1973. Fifteen years later, the nascent Internet saw its first widespread infection by self-replicating code: Morris, a worm that could install multiple copies of itself on the same computer, causing infected systems to grind to a halt. As the Morris worm began to spread in the United States, Spilling’s American colleagues called to warn him; faced with a threat to his nation’s entire network of  computers, he acted quickly and disconnected Norway from the rest of the Internet, which at the time could be done by unplugging a single cable.

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For 20 Years, the Passwords for U.S. Nuclear Missiles was 00000000

 

 

In 1962, President Kennedy was fearful that individual military commanders had too much leeway to launch nuclear attacks on their own initiative, and instituted a new policy that an eight-digit password would be neccessary to launch missiles. Air Force officers, more fearful of delayed nuclear response than a rogue commander, followed the letter if not the spirit of the rule and used 00000000 in every missile silo – – and, just like half the people in your office do with your passwords, they then wrote the eight-digit sequence on a piece of paper to make sure nobody forgot. The Air Force disputes this story, but it comes from Bruce Blair, who was an Air Force launch office in the 1970’s.

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One of the First Computer Science Ph.D’s was Earned by a Nun

One of the First Computer Science Ph.D’s was Earned by a Nun

 

Mary Kenneth Keller earned her place in computer science history: she helped develop BASIC as a grad student, and received a Ph.D from the Computer Science Department at the University of Wisconsin in June of 1965. Irving C. Tang received his D.Sc at Washington University in St. Louis the same month, which means that, briefly, half of all holders of doctorates in science were female.

And, Yes, to add to the oddball twist of this story: Keller was a nun, a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and order dedicated to education. Keller went on to chair the Clarke College CS Department for twenty years.

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