I like the concept of the Amazing Week 2 ... / 2012-10-21

2012-10-21 I like the concept of the Amazing Week 2 ... 6 years ago
I like the concept of the Amazing Week 2012, so I decided to add a few amazing things of my own. I will pick language (Dutch or English) based on the context of the amazing item. Some things work better for me in Dutch, some in English.

I have to start with something quite predictable for the amazingweek: the Internet itself. To me, the Internet is still amazing. For most the Internet equals the web. To me, the basic concept of the Internet, an international network which has one protocol for computers (TCP/IP) which can run over lots of different connections. And on which every participant with enough knowledge can offer a service, including services the designers of the network never thought of. For a reasonable price.

When I started to connect computers, dial-up BBSes were the best way to connect one computer to another. Local networks were either over serial or other special cables, or way to expensive. Dial-up was limited by the fact that you had to pay (in most countries) per time-unit for calls. It was cheaper in the evenings, but still high phone-bills were always looming so you had to be careful.

The first experiments in what is now data-over-cable and adsl were done, you heard reports about those in technology news programs. "We" (BBS users) had some ideas of what use highspeed data connections could have but the companies designing these were thinking long and hard how to earn money with these new capabilities. Shopping services, remote security services, and even a first hint at video on demand. Those things were proposed but nobody thought of simply offering 'computer network' at consumer prices. Maybe at business prices, competing with the very expensive leased lines offered by telecom companies.

And dial-up Internet came, and changed everything. The first tests of campus computer networks. Years later, Internet access via other means (cable, DSL) came to homes.

I was very lucky: I was able to get a leased line when dial-up still was the norm. A whopping 33000 bps connection (PPP over serial) with an actual fixed IPv4 address. So I could log in to my own server at home from other places. And run my own services, including a web server.

I still don't take Internet access everywhere for granted. Knowing how it was when I wished hard for affordable Internet access or even before that how difficult it was to get a file from one place to another, Internet still amazes me.

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