Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, Harry Trott

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Birds, Booze and Tim Berners Lee - Memories of the World Wide Web

Happy 25th Birthday WWW

Like many organizations across the globe today iomart is celebrating the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web.

iomart would not exist had a young British computer scientist called Tim Berners-Lee not submitted his idea for allowing scientists to share information to his manager at CERN. Today our data centers provide the physical infrastructure that enables start-ups, SMEs and large enterprises to deliver their services online.

To mark this anniversary we asked our staff to share their memories of the early days of the World Wide Web and we’ll come to their recollections in a moment. But one member of our board really was there at its birth.

Ian Ritchie CBE is Non Executive chairman of iomart but back in the early 1980s he founded Office Workstations Limited (OWL).  OWL was the first and largest supplier of Hypertext/Hypermedia authoring tools for personal computers which customers used to implement large interactive multimedia documentation systems in the automobile, defense, publishing, finance, and education sectors. This is how Ian describes encountering what would become the World Wide Web.

“In late November 1990 I was attending a technical conference on Hypertext at Versailles near Paris when I was approached by a pleasant, rather earnest, young researcher,” he recalls. “'Are you Ian Ritchie?', he asked, and when I said I was he introduced himself as Tim Berners-Lee and said he wanted to speak with me. We retired to the bar and over a beer he told me about his project - the World Wide Web. My first reaction was that this was a very ambitious name for a system which only existed on his computer in his office at CERN - it was first made available to the rest of CERN the very next month in December 1990.

“He was, however, totally convinced that his system would take over the world one day and people everywhere would use it to communicate with each other,” Ian remembers. “At the time the Internet was not open to everyone but was restricted to not-for-profit public bodies such as universities, government, defense and science researchers, such as those at CERN. He wanted my company, OWL, to write a browser for his system, as he didn't have an effective mechanism for viewing his documents. Our hypertext system had multiple fonts, graphics and layout and his was restricted to plain text only. However, he wasn't able to commission any work and I was running a commercial company and really couldn't undertake unpaid work of this kind. I told this story in a TED talk -  http://bit.ly/1otPUAY .

“So we passed on the opportunity. I first saw the Mosaic browser for the World Wide Web demonstrated by Marc Andreeson at the Hypertext conference in Seattle in 1993. He had developed it at the publicly funded National Center for SuperComputer Applications (NCSA) in Champaign, Illinois, and all subsequent Web browsers have been based on this work.  It is ironic that the World Wide Web, which has disrupted almost all of the world's commercial processes, entirely originated from publicly funded research programs.”

So our chairman can actually claim he was there at the birth of the World Wide Web. What about our employees? Well, some (older!) staff remember those first days of dial up and some (much younger!) weren’t actually born. However what they all share is the experience of the impact it has had on the world we now live and work in where two out of every five people are ‘connected.’

When asked ‘What was your first memory of the web?’ the overarching memory is the noise that accompanied those first dial up modem connections. “It was like a donkey in pain!” says one, remembering that you could go and make a coffee and run a bath in the time it took to connect.

The NCSA Mosaic browser that Ian saw back in 1993 was pretty popular it seems, although you had to wait for the web pages to load one line at a time. The browser was accessed on “stone age Packard Bell” and Pentium PCs. “I remember thinking how slow and useless this was,” says one of our senior managers.  

While it was exciting – “It was so much better than teletext” says another - it didn’t foster much brotherly or sisterly love. “My first memory was having to unplug the house phone and my five sisters going mental because the line was always engaged,” while another was caught out by his older brother who handed him a huge bill for the ISDN line that he’d been using to chat to people in CompuServ chat rooms!

Grandparents are often seen as slow adopters of technology today, back then they came in quite handy. “I got a Yahoo ID (which I still have today), set up my 56k modem and hooked it into my gran’s phone line. Then of course arrived the £600 phone bill as Demon Internet were only providing penny per minute Internet access at the time. Thankfully Freeserve eventually released unlimited dial up internet!”

Freeserve seems to have been the way a lot of us accessed the web in those early days. Internet chat rooms were the place to hang out and from there many of our older staff started building their first web sites.  

Many first memories were chatting with friends and potential partners via MSN Messenger and AOL. “That’s how I met my first girlfriend,” says one, while others just asked Jeeves, “I was told it answered questions and remember being very disappointed with its answers!”

What did we first use the web for? “There wasn’t much on the web at the time. It was mainly government stuff and a couple of corporates,” others looked at the NASA and the FBI websites. “Curiosity of America the Super Power was the first thing me and my mates wanted to look at.  We honestly thought we were going to find proof of aliens or something!”

Favorite websites today include Google, BBC News,  Wikipedia, Gmail, You Tube, Twitter, Soundcloud.com, imgur and Failblog.org,  “Nothing makes you feel smarter than the browsing the consolidation of some of the silliest things human beings ever attempted.” While one older site is dear to the heart of a particular iomart staffer,Yahoo Chat without a doubt. I met my wife on there you know, long before it was fashionable to meet people online.”

So what has the World Wide Web given us? For many of our staff the biggest benefits have been for learning and connecting with their families and friends wherever they happen to be in the world.  Others say: “I can find really niche music from wannabe artists who don’t receive much press, and they can get feedback from folk like me”; “I no longer have to use Yellow Pages or call BT when looking for a telephone number”; “I see the doctor less”; “Amazon. I hate going shopping!”; and “Ebooks….Because….well, have you ever tried carrying 10,000 books at once?!”

It has definitely given us careers in one of the fastest growing industries. While that might be a career that could have turned out differently for one senior employee - “Without it I wouldn’t have run my own business for almost ten years. Such a shame I wasn’t 18 when I first came across the web, I would be a millionaire by now!” – for all of us it has created more jobs and opportunities.

Has it changed our lives? “Well, it hasn’t - it’s just become part of my life. I’ve lived with the internet, longer than I’ve lived without it.”

The response to Tim Berner-Lee’s idea from his boss to his idea all those years ago was, “Vague, but exciting.” That doesn’t even get near to describing what has happened as a result. Ensuring that the World Wide Web was made royalty-free meant it could be used by everyone and it has revolutionized our lives ever since, allowing a whole new type of business and way of living to develop.

So thank you Sir Tim from everyone here at iomart!

More Stories By Phil Worms

Phil is a 30 year IT industry veteran with a passion for education and has personally led many school and higher education initiatives designed to engage young people and showcase the broad range of exciting and fulfilling roles in IT.

A full and varied career has seen Phil move through various senior product/project and marketing positions with companies as diverse as Centrica plc, One.Tel, VarTec Telecom and iomart Group plc. Phil is working on a project to create an intergenerational social hub that will celebrate creativity and achievement in Helensburgh, birthplace of television pioneer John Logie Baird.The Heroes Centre will provide people of all ages with the new media and content creation skills required to engage fully in the digital world. Follow his progress on Twitter and on Facebook

@ThingsExpo Stories
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...