It’s the internet’s 40th birthday, and that got me to thinking about where I was 40 years ago this week. – Brooklyn Tech high school where I was learning my first programming language, FORTRAN IV. We had an IBM 1130 minicomputer at Tech, one of the very few high schools to have any kind of computer at all in 1969. The 1130 was a workhorse of the day, and I remember the IBM engineer telling me that one powered the Shea Stadium scoreboard. Pretty cool stuff to a 15 year old Mets fan, especially since they were embroiled in their first World Series at the time.
Tech was Geek High then. Six thousand future engineers attended this public school with TV and radio station, architectural, electronic and metallury labs (to name a few), even a bowling alley. And the global distributed network? It belonged to Ma Bell and was all voice.
“Computer Math” was the name of the subject, but it was all about programming and operating that IBM mini. We learned how to code, punched our programs into 80-column cards, and fed them into the hungry card-eating monster, praying that our programs would run without error.
Now, we are so accustomed to the instant response of our PCs and networks that it’s hard to fathom that major corporations then had less compute power than today’s average cellphone.
The internet has changed much more in the past 10 years than in the first 30 of its existence. I can only imagine what the bleeding edge will be another 10 years hence.