The Future Chronicles

Page Four

The now ubiquitous yet profound Internet and World Wide Web

by H. L. Siddons, Jr.

December, 1996

Another Personal Perspective

Ahh, the Internet: Something I really knew very little about in 1990 (of course I knew of several UNIX jocks that could be heard at work talking about the Internet and connecting to something they called USNET), but in 1993, once I found out that I could possible access this system from my home PC, I began to readily study this medium and got an early start on the so-called public information super-highway.

There were but a handful of books on the subject, so I purchased the first Internet for Dummies, then several more publications came out. I signed up with a national provider that offered very limited access and no access tools except ftp; I had to download most of the shareware software using FTP and it was not very simple to configure these. A gopher based piece of shareware for Windows was all I could get working. I eventually gave up and no longer signed on.

Of all the tools that were cropping up (FTP, gopher, News, Archie) the World Wide Web had the most abstruse impact of any Internet access tool I had ever discovered. Here was this GUI based, not unlike a Windows help file, global connective system of graphics and multimedia that I knew had almost unlimited potential! (I am fond of that term). I was one of the first consumer surfers of the net and I feel I was absolutely right on target here...I told many colleagues at work about the WWW, and some were fascinated enough to make the leap. Some of them including myself are now designing Intranet applications!

At work in November 1993, I loaded Mosiac for Windows NT, one of the first WWW browsers. I had seen this software demonstrated earlier at the 1993 Microsoft TECH-ED conference in New Orleans and my think-tank brain went into extrapolation mode. I imagined the possibilities like I had done when CD-ROM was first developed. Education, commerce, books, travel, catalogs and data bases: the possibilities were mind-boggling.

In late 1993, I read about NETCOM and NetCruiser software, available from a book. This provided the first truly integrated, albeit proprietary system written in Visual Basic. it included most and eventually all the tools of the trade from e-mail to newsgroups to finger to gopher to ftp and to the WWW! So most of all 1994 was spent mostly surfing the net using the WWW and newsgroups. O.K., I admit it, I was hooked.

Newer versions of NetCruiser provided IRC chat as well. In 1995, most all of the big on line services realized as I did that the Internet/WWW was the wave of the future and Prodigy, AOL and CompuServe now provide both WWW and newsgroup access to the net via their dial-up system. I did more research and upgraded my modem from 14.4 to 28.8...

I eventually wanted faster access and more services so I looked to a local provider. IAG (Internet Access Group) in Altamonte Springs, Florida which provided all the services of NETCOM, but more hours for the same money, and soon I would be able to create my own WWW pages. I purchased the Internet In a Box, one of the highest rated non-service specific software available. This software uses PPP/SLIP and Winsock to communicate. At the same time I discovered Netscape, a new entry that became the darling browser of the industry and now a leader and maker of browser HTML standards. When I went to Windows '95 (Beta) in March of 1995, I could now use the 32-bit capability to communicate to the Internet.

I still use NETCOM when IAG is busy and with NETCOM’s 2.0 version, and now with the new 3.0 NETCOMplete I can use other software and dial in outside of their proprietary dialup software NetCruiser if I want. This with the 32-bit versions recently released give me more power and flexibility than I’ve ever had before. Finally being a beta test site for Microsoft and MSN, I signed up with MSN, which now has a very nice Windows ‘95 browser, IE 3.0. AT&T introduced WorldNet which I got in 1996.

In 1995 I made the plunge and created my first WWW pages. I knew local content would be big some day so I created my Graphic City Guides. This was a serious attempt to experiment with this new media. I used Netscape Navigator Gold 2.0 and Vermeer's FrontPage (now Microsoft's) to create and maintain the pages. Local content, just as I had anticipated is becoming BIG: CityNet, Lycos City Guides, Microsoft's SIDEWALK, CitySearch, AOL's Digital City are all vowing for local content based community sites.

As competition intensifies, we are seeing a battle of these services over features content and price. Content providers in many cases are publishing free access via the Web, their wares, while others still charge for access via traditional on line services. This could change very soon though... that which is free today may cost tomorrow...Still, the Web gives the best all-around access to a plethora of information and entertainment.

Well today the Internet and the WWW has become undeniably one of the most remarkable forces in the computer and communications industry in a very long time. Today you see many company URLs on TV ads. Tomorrow you will see Web pages on TV's, TV programs on PC's, Radio and TV broadcasts on PC's, make telephone calls on the PC, and...well you get the picture.

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