Did we see a hint of the internet back in 1970? On 6 August that year, New Scientist reported that potential demand for “remote access computing services in the principal countries of western Europe will be more than $11 million by 1975″. We defined remote access as the “use of computers where the main computer installation is at a distance from the user who employs a terminal device to communicate with the computer over telephone or other links”. Sound familiar?
The internet had become a reality by 1996, but debate was raging over whether it would survive. On 17 August,. The year before, Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of the computer-networking system Ethernet, had said: “I predict the internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” Craig Labovitz of Merit Network, the company that ran the backbone connections of the internet for many years, was more optimistic – and pragmatic. “There are significant sums of money depending on the internet’s success,” he said. “It’s too enmeshed in the world economy for a collapse to be acceptable.”
How right he was. By the year 2000, not a week would go by without a host of stories about the internet appearing in New Scientist. We even had a column, Netropolitan, dedicated to seeking out the best websites. In the 26 August edition, Netropolitanoutside Paris the previous month. We pointed readers in the direction of France’s Bureau Enquêtes-Accident, which had the latest official updates about the subsequent grounding of the remaining Concordes. We were also seeing the birth of online forums: Netropolitan listed the news updates to be found at a Concorde fans’ website, as well as the views on the “professional pilots’ rumour network… where comment rages from the well informed to the apoplectic”. Something else that .
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