Timeline of online access, online services and online databases
with core focus on computer networks and data communication

1950s to 1990s

By Godfrey Oswald

 BSc Biochemistry, MSc Information Science

Currently 2nd year student doing BSc in Computing (Information Management)

This blog is aimed at students at university starting a degree course in IT or computing and my 1st and 2nd year lecture notes and more research work in ibraries are the sources for the content. It is brief look at arrival of online databases and online services and computer data communications. I am in my second year doing BSc in Computing. I previousy have a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of London KCL and a MSc in Information Science from City University London. For over 25 years I worked as a writer and science and medical librarian in London, Paris and Geneva and from 2014 I am now a full-time blogger, writer and ghostwriter. The subjects I write and blog on are mostly science, information technology and reference. I want to increase my detailed knowledge of information technology hence my reason for my current degree studies in IT. In my current BSc degree at Arden university, my core favourite IT subjects for which I enjoy a lot are on web technology, online databases, methods of computer data communications and computer networks.

This blog will be updated twice weekly as more data and photographs are found and added here.

Last updated 30th March 2019

 

1950s



First of all, the very first computers and computer databases were introduced in the late 1940s (ENIAC IN 1947) and 1950s. It is agreed by computer historians that the first major database was the US National Census Bureau database in 1951, it was run on a mainframe computer known as UNIVAC, and accessed via terminals attached to it as shown below.

In 1953, the concept of access to computer databases via Time-Sharing was born. This refers to simultaneous use of a central computer (typically a mainframe or minicomputer) by many users in the same local location or remote locations, using computer terminals (not a desktop computer, as not invented until 1973). Thus if a large computer database is located on the ground floor of a building, time-sharing terminals on the 4th floor could be used to access the database instantly. If the database was in another building access could be achieved via the use of modems. The earliest types of modems (using the telephone system) were part of devices  called Teletypes or Teleprinters and  were used from 1950s. They were very bulky as the photo below shows. Modems began to get smaller in the 1960s.

1960s

Teletypes were supplemented with bulky AT&T modems such as the Dataphone in 1960. Computer historians agree that the Datapone is the first equipment that would qualify as a modem in its own right. However, it was the AT&T Bell Laboratories introduction of the much smaller 1962 Bell 103 modem which changed everything. It was the first commercial modem, it was more reliable, used full duplex, twice as fast at speeds of 300 bits per second or 300 baud and very easy to use. The photo below shows the Bell 103 modem. The most common feature of these modems in 1964, was the use of an improved version of an acoustic Coupler linked to a telephone cradle, the computer itself was linked to the acoustic coupler. This idea was put forward by the engineer Robert Weitbrecht. The original Caterfone was invented in 1959, it popularised the use of acoustic coupler modems for computer  data communications over phone lines in the 1960s.


The famous 1968 Carterfone decision, was the result of a 1962 lawsuit filed by the leading telephone company in the USA, Bell to stop data communication devices like Acoustic coupler modems being connected to its phone lines. But the court said no and made it legal for all non-Bell companies to manufacture their own brands of Acoustic coupler modems and use the telephone lines, from the 1970s.

In 1962, Leonard Klienrock introduces idea of ARPANET or Advanced Research Packet Switched Network in a research paper he wrote. It was first reliable concept for packet-switching network for data communication between computers (i.e. Mainframes and Minicomputers, desktops not yet invented). At that time telephone lines (and early modems) had been used for data communications, using a different technology not based on packet-switching but pulses and thus telephone lines were not a reliable way for data communication, only good for voice communications. Since computers only understand digital data, a modem does one basic work: it takes digital data and modulates (or converts) it into analog data and transmits it over leased line or dial-up phone connections provided by the telephone companies. Once the analog data reaches the destination computer, its own modem does the opposite by de-modulating the received analog data into digital data. In this way a computer in Britain send and receive data to a computer in France using modems and telephone lines. Packet switching takes large messages (or chunks of computer data) and breaks them into smaller, manageable pieces (known as packets) that can travel independently over any available circuit to the target destination, where the pieces are reassembled. Thus, unlike traditional voice communications, packet switching does not require a single dedicated circuit between each pair of users.

Essential for computer data communication was the introduction of ASCII text in 1963. ASCII which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, was the first universal data format standard for computers. It permits computers from different manufacturers to exchange data. 128 unique 7-bit strings stand for either a letter of the English alphabet, one of the Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 7, 8, 9, 0), one of an assortment of punctuation marks and symbols, or a special function, such as the carriage return. As ASCII only supported 256 characters, it was later superseded by Unicode which could handle 100,000 symbols, characters etc, more than adequate to cover all the world’s  language alphabets. A variant of Unicode known as UTF-8, can address more than 1 million unique characters.

In 1964, the first of the 4 largest GDS databases used by airlines today, was launched. It was called SABRE reservation system and was the brainchild of both American Airlines and IBM. It was assessed via terminals linked to a IBM 7090 mainframe computer. Other similar GDS databases introduced later on in early 1990s were Amadeus, WorldSpan and Galileo. In 1992 a consortium led by Air France and Lufthansa Airlines launched Amadeus. In 1990 Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, and Trans World Airlines formed Worldspan and in 1993 another consortium including British Airways, KLM, and United Airlines formed Galileo. SABRE was in fact the first large networked database in the world, but it didn’t use packet-switching network for data communication like ARPANET. SABRE was a network of two IBM mainframe computers set up to manage the reservation database of American Airlines. This is because crude but diiferent forms of computer networks existed before packing-switching networks existed. In fact SABRE wasn't the world's first proper computer network, but it was the largest civilian data processing system in the world in 1964, linking just over 2,000 computer terminals in sixty U.S. and Canadian cities via telephone lines. In the simpliest terms, computer networks today and yesterday differ in many ways, but the 3 main ways are: a) medium used for data communications such as wired on copper cables or fiber optics cable (e.g. Ethernet, Token Ring etc) or wireless using radio frequencies (e.g. WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Wireless HART, Z Wave, NFC, infra-red etc) , b) data communication protocols, c) computer network topology and size (i.e. number of computers in the network). With this in mind, the first computer network in the world was the one set up in 1958 by the U.S. military for their NORAD SAGE network. This network used IBM mainframe computers to manage data from various radar stations across the U.S., a relic of the Cold War. The Soviet Union in the late 1950s also had its first computer network belonging to the military, the Russian OGAS network was a proposed system with the goals to manage data about the Soviet armed forces infrastucture during the Khrushchev era. This network was the brainchild of two famous Russian computer scientists, Anatoly Kitov and Viktor Mikhailovich Glushkov. Incidentally, the publication of the first Soviet book on computer technologies, in 1956 titled Electronic Digital Machines was written by Kitov. Between 1959 and 1989, leading Soviet computer scientists repeatedly ventured to construct OGAS as national computer network. It was partially a success.

In 1965, two remote computers at American MIT Lincoln Lab or Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Lab communicate with one another using packet-switching network. This is the first such demonstration of dedicated data communication over long distances linked by cables and using packet-switching network. Today millions of computers around the world communicate with each other via packet-switching networks such as the Internet and the Intranet, based on the server-client models. The MIT experiment of connecting two computers by a packet-switching networks was in fact also a way to send messages between two computers, so in essence email was invented in 1965. This is because in 1965, MIT’s so-called Compatible Time-Sharing System allowed users to share files and messages on a central disks, logging into remote terminals. Access to networked computers via Time-Sharing means simultaneous use of a central computer by many users at remote locations. But the concept of Time-sharing started in 1953, as a way for several scientists using terminals to share the resources on a single mainframe. Because the terminals were remote and connected via telephone lines, these terminals were in essence teletype machines (because teletype modems were involved). For a time-sharing fee such as $6 a hour, users could type in commands on the teletype and communicate via telephone line with a mainframe or minicomputer. One of the most used minicomputers for time-sharing in the 1960s, was Digital Equipment Corporation’s DEC PDP-10, an upgrade to the $18,000 PDP-8 minicomputer. Astonishingly, $18,000 is one-fifth the cost of a low-end IBM 360/50 mainframe. Meaning the cheapest mainframe in the 1960s costs well over $60,000.

Also, in 1965, a NASA online database project was used to launch a separate commercial online database host known as DIALOG in 1972. From the 1990s to the middle 2000s, DIALOG was the world’s largest online database host.

Also in 1965, the Library of Congress in the USA, was able to introduce the idea of MARC or Machine Readable Cataloguing. This made it possible for librarians to start using computers to catalogue their huge collection of books in the library and rely much less on paper index cards. Only mainframes and minicomputers were used to host the MARC records as desktop computers had not yet been invented.

ARPANET network theory becomes a reality when the first ARPANET NODE or Internet host (in today’s terms) went live on September 1969 at University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA.  In October 1969 a second ARPANET node was added at the  Stanford Research Institute also in California. This now meant that the node at UCLA in Los Angeles, could now communicate with node at Stanford via packet-switching and exchange data. When data entered at computer in Los Angeles was received at computer in Stanford, everyone at both ends cheered and a bottle of champagne suddenly appeared at both sites for celebrations. The next ARPANET node to be established outside California was the one at the University of Utah. Only terminals linked to mainframes and minicomputers (e.g. Honeywell’s DDP 516 minicomputer or Digital Equipment Corporation DEC PDP-8 minicomputer) were used, as desktops not yet invented. By the end of 1969,  when the University of California Santa Barbara was added, there were now four ARPANET nodes  established in the USA. Access to networked computers as usual was via Time-Sharing: simultaneous use of a central minicomputer by many users at remote locations using terminals, using the server-client model. By 1972, over dozens of ARPANET nodes were in existence throughout the USA.

In 1969, the first European online database host known as ESA-IRS was launched in Rome, Italy.

In 1971, the famous MEDLINE database was launched by the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland in the USA, following research work from 1966. Today it is the largest online biomedical database in the world. When it was launched in 1971, it had only 22 users. Today over 600 million users login to MEDLINE. The database was originally hosted on an IBM 360/50 mainframe computer and access to the database was via dialup modems on Time-sharing terminals. Today a laptop or desktop computer use can access MEDLINE via the Internet using software tools like PubMed.
Inside a cell

 

Birth of the micropocessor
Up to the start of 1971, the concept of microcomputers was a distant dream or science fiction. The price of minicomputers at the start of the 1970s costs over $9,000 and above, while mainframe computers started at $25,000. To make desktop computers or microcomputers a reality and at an affordable price, a way had to be found to combine both memory and processor on a single chip, so in effect create a "computer on a chip" or a microprocessor. The combination of memory and processor on a single chip reduces size and cost, and increases speed, continuing the evolution from vacuum tube to transistor to integrated circuit. Intel (who were just a small semiconductor company and founded in 1968) had the means and technical expertise to develop such a chip. So when a Japanese company, Busicom Corp asked Intel in 1969 to develop a microprocessor for its new line of premium calculators such as Busicom 141-PF, Intel accepted the contract for a custom made chip. The result was the January 1971 release of the Intel 4004, the first ‘computer on a chip,’ ushershing in the epoch of the microprocessor. The fascinating story of why the development of a Busicom calculator led to the development of the first commercial microprocessor, and the unexpected consequences is there to read in books about Intel chips from the 4004.

In 1972, the American people are made aware of the existance of ARPANET computer networks. Larry Roberts and Bob Kahn made the desicion that it was time for a public demonstration of the ARPANET. They choose to hold this demonstration at the International Conference on Computer Communication (ICCC) to be held in Washington, DC, in October 1972. Several European scientists at the conference have an Eureka moment: when they return to Europe, pressure their respective governments to come aboard and join ARPANET. This leads to a big event in 1973 (see below).

In summer 1973, ARPANET network goes global when University College London, UK and Royal Radar Establishment in Norway in 1973 established the first European ARPANET network nodes and its computers were able to communicate with computers at the American ARPANET network nodes in California, exchanging data. From the 1970s early networks successfully connected overseas networked computers But because different kinds of networks couldn’t link to each other most of the time, the next challenge had been creating networks of networks, a process called internetworking or internetting. In 1973 both France’s CYCLADES and Britain’s NPL computer networks began experimenting with internetworking packet networks connectng to overseas packet networks, and the European Informatics Network or (EIN) is born. Britain's NPL network (part of the National Physics Laboratory) setup in the late 1960s was also the first major computer network in Britain based on packet-switching. The concept of Internet as a global network of computers (still known as ARPANET in the 1970s), at this stage is thus born. Computer historians say the word “Internet” or a network of computer networks, was invented in 1973 by Vince Cerf and Bob Kahn, who were both involved in managing ARPANET for many years.

In 1974, the first commercial ARPANET Service Provider (akin to Internet Service Provider today) was Telenet. Because the TCP/IP protocol hadn’t been invented then (arrived in 1982), the network protocol used was based on X.25 or Frame Relay or ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode).

Telenet was one of several commercial packet network being introduced in the 1970s, but were designed principally to provide efficient access to remote computers by dedicated terminals. Briefly, they replaced long-distance modem connections by less-expensive “virtual” circuits over packet networks. In the United States, Telenet and Tymnet were two such early packet networks. European universities and big companies were able to buy access to ARPANET nodes in USA using local commercial packet networks on a subscription basis. Since national/government telecommunications (or PTT) monopolies like British Telecom, were the first to offer packet switching data services, alongside normal telephone services, most major worldwide commercial packet networks were owned by these monopolies. Commercial packet networks names typically ended with the word "pac" which means Packet Switching!

Some global commercial packet network service providers (founded in 1970s and 1980s) using X.25, ATM or Frame Relay protocol included these (major ones in bold format, telecom operator in brackets)  Arpac: (Telecom Argentina) Argentina. Austpac/Data Access: (Telstra) Australia. Radausdata/Datex-P: (Post and Telekom, Radio-Austria) Austria. DCS: (Belgacom) Belgium. Interdata/Renpac: (Embratel) Brazil. Bulpac: (Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, BTC) Bulgaria. Chinapac: (China Telecom) China. Datapac: (Stentor) Canada. Coldapac: (Telecom Colombia) Colombia. Transpac: (France Telecom) France. Datex-P (Deutches Telekom) Germany. Hellaspak: (OTE) Greece .Datanet: (PTT Nederland/KPN) Holland. IDAS: (Hong Kong Telecom) Hong Kong. Gateway Packet Switching Network, GPSS: (Videsh Sanchar Nigam) India. SKDP: (Satelindo) Indonesia. Eirpac/Postnet: (Telecom Eireann) Ireland. Isranet: (Bezeq) Israel. Itapac: (Telecom Italia) Italy. Venus-P/DDX-P/NIS-NET: (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone NTT) Japan. Maypac: (Telekom Malaysia) Malaysia. Iusanet: (Telmex) Mexico. Pacnet: (Telecom New Zealand) New Zealand. Polpak: (Telekomunikacia Polska) Poland. SADB: (Portugal Telecom) Portugal. Perunet: (Telefonica Peru) PeruR ompac: (Romtelecom) Romania. Isanet/Infotel: (PTT Russia) Russia. Iberpac: (Telefonica Espana) Spain. Telepac: (Swisscom) Switzerland. Datapak: (Telia) Sweden. Dacom-Net: (Korea Telecom) South Korea.Saponet: (Telecom South Africa) South Africa. Global Network Services, GNS/PSS: (British Telecom, BT) and Mercury 5000: (Cable & Wireless) UK. Urupac (Antel) Uruguay. U.S. (numerous due to open liberal telecommunications market with many telecom major players). Sprintnet/Telenet (Sprint/GTE).Tymnet (MCI) and Istel Infotrac (AT&T).                                                                      

In 1972, with the availability of ARPANET, commercial packet networks and the relational database theory, the very first online commercial database host, using commercial packet networks, for librarians, information scientists and researchers was introduced. It was known as DIALOG. This database host was developed from a 1965 NASA database project. Two other similar online products for librarians and researchers known as SDC Orbit Database host and ESA-IRS database host had been developed around the same time DIALOG was announced. West Germany’s DIMDI joined the scene in 1975, While France’s Telesystemes Questel joined in 1979. All used the now familiar client-server model of computer networking.

In 1973, a minicomputer system concept  known as PARC Dyna Book was the 1st computer to have a screen with a Graphical User Interface or GUI. Today the most popular computers with GUIs are Windows 10, MacOS and Unix Windows X and its variants like Linux. Apple got that idea of using a mouse as the graphical user interface cursor in 1979, when Xerox PARC showed of how a mouse and GUI worked. Apple used this technology to launch the Macintosh in 1984. Microsoft copied it for Windows 1 in 1985.

In 1973, the very first BBS or Bulletin Board System was launched in Berkeley, California. It was called Community Memory or CM. Users logged into CM using a SDS Timesharing system connected via 110 Baud link to a teleprinter until better modems such as the Hayes PC modems arrived in 1978 and Hayes smartmodems arrived in 1981. In 1974, another bulletin board known as EIES or Electronic Information Exchange System went live. It was hosted at the Computerised Conferencing Centre of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and at its peak had more than 2,000 subscribers from companies such as Exxon and IBM, to Government agencies such as NASA, and universities around the United States. The system was used to deliver courses, conduct conferencing sessions, and facilitate research. The most famous bulletin board system is described in 1978 section.

In 1973, the famous LEXIS database using commercial packet networks for U.S. lawyers is launched.

1973 marks the birth of the most popular standard for Local Area Networks: Ethernet. Although Xerox developed Ethernet originally in 1973 via Robert Metcalfe, it was only commercialised in 1981, after the IBM PC was introduced, so a big market was found for the invention. More information in 1981.

1973 also saw the arrival of the 1st mirocomputer, The Micral. It was introduced by French company named R2. Earlier in 1971 section, I mentioned January 1971 release of the Intel 4004 custom made for the Japanese company, Busicom. The success of the Intel 4004 in Japan, led to the development of the Intel 8008 in April 1972. Again this was custom made for its only customer, Computer Terminal Corporation, their Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal. It was next update, the April 1974 Intel 8080, that was finally made for the consumer market. The most famous customer for the Intel 8080 was the Altair 8800. Since 1974, Intel has been releasing new faster consumer CPUs almost every year. 1974 also saw the arrival of the first operating system for Intel CPUs, the CP/M in 1974 by Gary Kildall. Basically, in 1972 Gary Kildall was teaching computer science at the United States Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, California, when he saw an advertisment for Intel's first microprocessor, the 4-bit 4004, on a college bulletin board. Gary decided to buy one and started writing programs for it. Soon after he visited Intel and started working as a consultant for their microprocessor division. Working one day a week at Intel in his time off from teaching at college, between 1973 and 1974 Gary Kildhall wrote the first high-level language for a microprocessor, Intel's 8-bit 8080 CPU. He called the language CP/M (for Control Program for Microcomputers). He then tweaked it to work as an Operating System. As the market for microcomputers started to grow in the mid 1970's, CP/M was in the right place at the right time so in 1976, Gary Kildhall decided to market his CP/M. In 1976, two of the largest manufacturers of microcomputer kits, MITS and IMSAI, bought licences from Gary Kildhall to install CP/M Operating System on all their microcomputer kits and suddenly CP/M was a bit hit. Several other manufacturers wanted to install CP/M as well so Gary Kildhall rewrote the CP/M to make it easily portable to new hardware. He also added a separate module that did all the I/O operations, the Basic Input/Output System or BIOS, which could be rewritten for a new microcomputers.


The first two popular microcomputers to finally arrive were: the 1975 MITS Altair 8800 and 1976 Apple I. The first computer software for microcomputers was written for the Altair 8800 (shown below) by Microsoft Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. Their software was in fact a BASIC programming language that worked for the Altair. The  Altair 8800 didn’t need an operating system such as CP/M, because standalone BASIC could function without an operating system. But other programming languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal require an operating system. But the memory available in the Altair 8800 was too small to accommodate this, so Microsoft didn’t need to develop an operating system for the Altair. However, when IBM approached Microsoft in 1980 to develop programming languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal for its forthcoming PC computer in 1981, Microsoft did need to develop an operating system, later named MS-DOS.

 


Above photo shows the 1975 Altair 8800 microcomputer

Above photo shows the 1976 Apple I microcomputer

Following these two early desktop computers were a host of late 1970s microcomputers, circa 1977-1979. Together with 1981 IBM PC, they would dominate the first 10 year period of 1977 to 1987, before Dell, Sony, Bull, Fujistu, Compaq and HP became the dominant players today, alongside Apple as the sole survivor of the class of 1977-1987. The brands of these microcomputers that dominated the 10 year period of 1977 to 1987 included the likes of : Commodore (PET, VIC-20, 64 and Amiga); Apple (II, III and Macintosh models like Classic Colour, SE and II): RS Tandy TRS-80; Sinclair ZX80, ZX81 and Spectrum, Acorn BBC Micro, Atari 400, 800, ST, and Osbourne.
 

In 1975, the first national computerised library catalogue or OPAC based on MARC technology was introduced in the USA Library of Congress. Also, in 1975 the famous QuickLaw database for Canadian lawyers is launched. Meanwhile in summer 1975, a European online database host for librarians, information scientists and researchers known as DIMDI was launched in Cologne, Germany by the German Institute for Medical documentation and Information.

In 1976, the famous WESTLAW database for U.S. lawyers was launched by West Publishing and the Ohio Bar Association.

A fantastic way of sending text data alongside TV signals to specially modified TVs was launched in 1976, first in the UK. It was called Prestel or View Data. It was in essence a video text system. Similar late 1970s and early 1980s video text systems were Minitel (France), Telidon (Canada) and Bildschirmtext (Germany). The French Minitel was very successful compared to the others as among other things it was fully interactive and users could send messages to each other using a Minitel Terminal. It also had an app store where one could download apps for the Minitel, (so created many years before the app store for Apple iPhone and iPad). Between 1983 and 1991, the French government distributed over 5 million Minitel terminals all over France.


Above photo shows the famous Minitel from France, that offered online services similar to the web today, it could be used to send text messages to other Minitel owners, and had an app store!!

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EMAIL

Earlier on I had noted that in 1965, two computers at MIT Lincoln Lab communicate with one another using packet-switching network. Then in 1969, two ARPANET computers in two different cities in the USA were able to communicate with one another using packet-switching network. This is the first such demonstration of dedicated data communication over long distances linked by cables and using packet-switching network. The ARPANET experiment of connecting two remote computers by a packet-switching networks was in fact also a way to send messages between two computers, so in essence email was invented in 1969. This is because in 1969, ARPANET’s so-called Compatible Time-Sharing System allowed users to share files and text messages (i.e. email) on a central disks, logging into remote terminals. Access to networked computers via Time-Sharing means simultaneous use of a central computer (i.e. mainframe/minicomputer) by many users at remote locations using terminals. Typical costs in those days for time-sharing a terminal linked to mainframe/minicomputer was $3 to $10 an hour.

In 1976, the Queen Elizabeth II of England sent the 1st computer email or electronic message in Europe, using ARPANET at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, England. But the first proper email on ARPANET sent from one computer to another computer wasn’t in 1969, it happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1972 via Ray Tomlinson, This is because Tomlinson also invented the @ symbol used in today’s email addresses. This symbol was adapted as standard for ARPANET in 1977, as well as having “to” and “ from” fields in an email message. These first two emails in 1972 and 1976 were however both different from the way Internet email works today, as the Internet email protocols such as TCP/IP, SMTP IMAP, and POP3 hadn’t been invented (they arrived in 1982 onwards).

The popular consumer online services available in the 1980s and 1990s, before the World Wide Web email became widely available, such as CompuServe (founded 1979), AOL (1989), Delphi (1991), Prodigy (1984) and Apple eWorld (1994), all offered email services. For instance from 1979 CompuServe users could send emails messages to each other using the CompuServe network and from 1989, CompuServe users had email access to the Internet via the format userID@compuserve.com

Two other significant email system available in late 1980s were Lotus Notes Mail in 1989 and IBM Notes Mail a year later.

In 1988 the Corporation for National Research Initiatives received approval to a standard commercial e-mail service (MCI Mail) to the Internet. MCI Mail was thus the first commercial e-mail service to use the Internet protocols such as POP3. This email application was the first Internet connection to a commercial provider that was not also part of the research community. Approval quickly followed to allow other e-mail providers access, and the Internet began its first explosion in traffic. The next explosion was the addition of the worldwide web based email services from the late 1990s such as Hotmail in 1996, Yahoo mail in 1997 and Gmail or Google Mail in 2004.

Microsoft entered the email business in 1988, with the release of Microsoft Mail for the Macintosh computer. This was possible as the Macintosh already had a standard network technology known as AppleTalk, where files could be exchanged between  Macintosh computers or a printer shared between computers. So in essence Microsoft Mail allowed Macs to exchange emails with each other. Microsoft Mail was released for DOS and Windows computers in 1991, these Microsoft email systems would later evolve into Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange in the 1993. Microsoft bought hotmail in 1997. Blackberry Mail was introduced in 2003. It was first mobile device to use GPRS Internet email. Apple iCloud email services for the iPhone and iPad arrived in 2007.

The ability to send email attachments was introduced in 1992, with the arrival of the MIME protocol or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension. This allowed files like documents, images etc to be sent alongside an email message.

END OF EMAIL STORY

Also, in 1976 the first commercial computerised library catalogue or OPAC based on MARC but using superior turn-key technology was introduced in 1976 at the University of Waterloo. It was known as the GEAC 8000. Very soon using ARPANET, OPACs were networked, meaning that a librarian in Canada or the UK could access the Library of Congress catalogue in Washington DC in real-time. Later, in 1978, the first OPAC in the USA was introduced at the Dallas Public Library. In 1979 both Ohio State University Library and Princeton University Library were the first university libraries in USA to introduced OPACs.

In 1977, the famous annual exhibition (staged at London Olympia Exhibition Hall) showcasing the latest technologies and computer database used in libraries for librarian and information professionals in the U.K. was launched as Online Information. It ended in 2012.

1978

When desktop computers arrived from the early 1970s, viz 1973, the Micral, in 1975, the Altair 8800 and in 1977, the Apple II, it became clear a different type of modem was needed for desktop computers to communicate with each other. In January 1978, an American company called Hayes, developed the first modem specifically for desktop computers. This 300 Baud PC modem was called the Hayes 80-103A. This modem was made as a bus board card or S-100 Modem Bus card. So, it could be fitted inside computers such as the Apple II using S-100 slots (see image below). Because the could be fitted inside computer, it did not need a bulky acoustic coupler because the telephone line cable was connected directly to the S-100 modem. By the way S-100 refers to the popular 1970s 8-bits bus expansion interface standard used to connect an array of external or internal peripherals to 1970s computers before newer bus interfaces in the 1980s arrived. Some expansion interface slots that arrived in 1980s and 1990s to replace S-100 included the 16 bit ISA interface bus (arrived in 1981) with the 1981 IBM PC XT; MCA or IBM Micro Channel Architecture bus (late 1987) 16/32 bits; EISA interface bus 32-bits (1989); VLB (1992); PCI interface bus 32-bits (1993) and PCI-X interface bus 64-bits (1998). Modern expansion bus include PCI Express interface bus (from 2004 and current today) 64-bits.

Hayes then went on to develop the famous Hayes Smartmodems in 1982, with the equally famous Hayes Command Set. These types of modems do not need an acoustic coupler because the telephone line was connected directly to the modem. When numerous BBS or Bulletin Board Systems and online services began to appear from the 1980s, consumers wanted much faster modems, so Bell Laboratories developed the Bell 212 modem which reached speeds of 1200 baud, start of the V.22 modems. 9600 Baud modems arrived in 1991. While the middle 1990s saw arrival of the 28.9K to 33.6K Baud modems. In the late 1990s, the 56,000 or 56K Baud modem, created by U.S. Robotics arrived. When WiFi was introduced in 1999, built-in or with adapters from 1999, it saw the gradual end of the use of smartmodems in computers and laptops. Today’s laptops now just have an Ethernet port for wired Internet access and WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless Internet access. However, Qualcommm whose Snapdragon 4G/LTE modems currently reside over 75% of todays smartphones, mostly Android phones, has began to release 4G/LTE modems for a selection of Windows 10 laptpos that use its CPUs, that normally use Intel/AMD CPUs. One such CPU with built-in 4G/LTE modems for laptops is the 2018 Snapdragon 8 series used in the Windows 10 Lenovo Miix 630 2-in-1 laptop with a 12 inch display. Small wireless modems are still used today in devices such as handheld contactless pay devices used in shops to accept bank card payments. The modems dial into bank computer servers wirelessly for authentication and authorisation of a card payment.


 

The 1978 PC modem, the Hayes 80-103A, built on a S-100 board (using the S-100 bus architecture).

 

Advertisement for the world’s first modern microcomputer/PC Modem in 1978

 

The diagram below shows an expansion card today based on the PCI Express bus architecture. It has long replaced the 1970s S-100 bus architecture.

 

I had previous noted that back in 1973, the very first BBS or Bulletin Board System was launched in Berkeley, California. It was called Community Memory or CM. Users logged into CM using an SDS Timesharing system connected via 110 Baud link to a teleprinter or used one of the old fashioned modems that used an acoustic coupler. In 1974, another bulletin board known as EIES or Electronic Information Exchange System when live. With the Hayes Modem S-100 bus now available on different brands of computers, more and more Bulletin Board Systems began to appear from middle to late 1970s, first all over the USA, and then worldwide. The story of one particular BBS that arrived in the late 1970s is worth mentioning. In January 1978, Chicago was hit by the Great Blizzard of 1978, which dumped record amounts of snow throughout the midwest. Among those caught in the storm were Ward Christensen and Randy Suess, who were members of CACHE, or the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists' Exchange. They had met at that computer club in the mid-1970s and become friends. Christensen had created a file transfer protocol for sending binary computer files through modem connections, which was called, XMODEM. The success of this project encouraged further experiments. Christensen and Suess then had this  idea of creating a computerized answering machine and message centre, which would allow members to call in with their then-new modems and leave announcements for upcoming meetings.

However, they needed some quiet time to set aside for such a project, and the blizzard gave them that time. Christensen worked on the software and Suess cobbled together an S-100 computer to put the program on. By February 16, 1978 It was ready. They called it CBBS (Computerized Bulletin Board System). CBBS was first set up on an Altair 8800 with an S-100 bus. To gain a bigger audience to their invention, Christensen and Suess described their innovation in an article entitled "Hobbyist Computerized Bulletin Board" in the November 1978 issue of Byte Magazine. Because the Internet (ARPANET) was still small and not available to most computer users, one had to dial into CBBS directly using a modem. Also because the CBBS hardware and software supported only a single modem for most of its existence, users had to take turns accessing the system, each hanging up when done to let someone else have access. Despite these limitations, the system was seen as very useful, and ran for many years and inspired the creation of many other bulletin board systems. CBBS was in essence the world’s first social media or electronic forum. As Christensen and Suess went their separate ways, the CBBS name lived on, and survives to an extent as a web-based forum on Suess' website, chinet.com. Christensen's version of CBBS, called "Ward's Board", closed in the early 1990s. On February 16, 2003, Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley declared the day "BBS" day in honour of the world's first popular BBS being created 25 years ago that day. An article with a photo of Ward and the CBBS hardware appeared shortly thereafter in the Chicago Tribune.


 

CBBS was first accessed online using the 1975 Altair 8800 microcomputer and a keyboard and a S-100 bus board modem (seen inside the computer).



 

The splash screen of the CBBS home page is shown above. This 1978 Bulletin Board System was extremely popular in late 1970s to early 1980s

 

1978 also saw the launch of the computerised library catalogue or OPAC based on MARC technology was introduced called MERLIN, was introduced at the British Library. In 1979 Bath University Library introduced a computerised library catalogue or OPAC based on MARC. Both systems above used minicomputers to the host the server using commercial packet networks.

Also in 1978, a UK online database host for librarians, information scientists and researchers known as BLAISE – LINE was launched in London by the British Library.

Finally 1978 saw the launch of Britain’s first personal computer, the Nascom 1.


 

The 1978 Nascom 1 was Britain’s first personal computer before the early 1980s BBC Micro and Sinclair ZX personal computers.

 

In 1979, a European online database host using commercial packet networks for information scientists and researchers known as Telesystemes Questel was launched in Paris, France.

USENET forums using ARPANET, and complementing bulletin board systems were akin to Facebook and Twitter social media today, began in 1979.

CompuServe introduction on September 24th, 1979 was the first consumer online service outside the scientific community, medical researchers, and the world of lawyers, librarians and information scientists, who already had several forms of online services since the 1960s as detailed earlier on such as DIALOG, Westlaw, Lexis, DataStar, BLAISE – LINE, ESA-IRS, DIMDI, Telesystemes Questel and MEDLINE. CompuServe whose founding date actually goes back to 1969, was soon joined by AOL (1989), Delphi (1991), Prodigy (1984) and Apple eWorld (1994). CompuServe was finally closed for good due to the popularity of the Internet in 2007. Among new innovations introduced by CompuServe in 1980 alone were real-time chat (it would be 10 years later before the Internet Relay Chat or IRC was invented in 1988) and the first online newspapers. In 1983, CompuServe also became the first to introduce Cloud storage, (similar to iCloud and OneDrive today). For a small fee, CompuServe offered its customers small online space to upload and to store documents, files etc.

The first so called killer-app came in 1979 with the release of the top selling spreadsheet app known as  VisiCalc. Prior to this software release, all spreadsheets such as company salaries were done on minicomputers or mainframes. The next similar killer-app spreadsheet was Lotus 123 in 1984. Today Microsoft Excel is the spreadsheet killer-app.

In summer 1979, a minicomputer system known as PARC Xerox Star was the 1st desktop computer released to have a screen with a Graphical User Interface or GUI and use a mouse. It costs over £7,000 to buy and very few were sold. Today the most popular computers operating systems with GUIs are Windows 10, MacOS and Unix Windows X and its variants like Linux. In December 1979, Apple’s Steve jobs visited PARC to see how GUI worked. This later led to the development of both LISA and Macintosh GUI computers in 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Back in 1973, a minicomputer system concept known as PARC Dyna Book had been the 1st computer system to have a screen with a Graphical User Interface or GUI. As noted earlier on, Apple got that idea of using a mouse as the graphical user interface cursor in 1979, when Xerox PARC showed of how a mouse and GUI worked. Apple used this technology to launch the Mac in 1984. Microsoft copied it for Windows 1 in 1985.


 

 

The 1979 PARC Xerox Star shown above, was the first desktop computer to use a mouse and a GUI screen. But the PARC Xerox Star was not sold to consumers or businesses so to speak and instead used as a research computer for computer scientists. However in 1984 Apple released the Macintosh that copied the mouse and most GUI features of the Xerox Star. This time it was sold to consumers.

It must be emphasised here that until the 1990 development of the World Wide Web at CERN, and not counting 1980s consumer online services such as CompuServe and AOL available to the general public, most users of ARPANET Services and commercial packet networks from late 1970s, the 1980s and early 1990s were university academics, university students, computer nerds, engineers, scientists and science librarians (such as Telnet and FTP), library cataloguers  and information scientists and researchers (such as networked OPACs using Z39.50 technology such as GEAC,  and online bibliographic services such as BLAISE-LINE in the UK), online database hosts such as DIALOG, SDC, DIMDI ESA-IRS and major companies. The majority of the general public either used bulletin board systems or the likes of  CompuServe, AOL, Delphi, Prodigy and Apple eWorld. It was the worldwide web part of the Internet, that ensured consumers also went online more often too from the early 1990s.

END OF THE 1970s

1980s

In 1980, the second biggest online database host for librarians, information scientists and researchers known as Data Star was launched in Bern, Switzerland.

The 1980s begins with these early desktop computers, already introduced in late 1970s (1977-1980): Commodore (PET, VIC-20, 64 and Amiga); Apple (II, III): RS Tandy TRS-80; Sinclair ZX80, ZX81 and Spectrum, Acorn BBC Micro, Atari 400, 800, ST, and Osbourne. All these used OS like AmigaOS or CP/M. The CPU used was either MOS Technology 6502 or Zilog Z80 or Intel 8086 or Motorola 6800. Earlier on in the 1970s, the desktop computer was started with the 1973 Micral; 1975 Altair 8800 and 1976 Apple I. All these computers used the popular 1970s bus architecture known as S-100.

Fun fact: While Microsoft was famous for developing the most popular operating systems for PC viz MS-DOS and Windows, the company does have another record but for Apple computer fans. In 1978, Microsoft developed SoftCard, which allowed the numerous software written for CP/M (most popular microcomputer operating system before 1981) to run on the Apple II computer, which used a competely different operating system to CP/M. Taking a cue from this, when Apple began to use Intel CPUs, after ditching Motorola PowerPC CPUs
in 2005,  old Macs with older PowerPC processors could use software for Intel processors via a smart piece software known as Rosetta, which translated PowerPC CPU code into X86 or Intel CPU code on the fly. In essence, doing the same function as SoftCard.


 

The 1981 Sinclair ZX81 microcomputer was a popuar British brand in the 1980s alongside models such as Amstrad and BBC Micro.

 

Earlier on I noted that in 1976 the first commercial computerised library catalogue or OPAC based on MARC but using superior turn-key technology was introduced in 1976 at the University of Waterloo. It was known as the GEAC 8000. Very soon using ARPANET, OPACs were networked, meaning that a librarian in Canada or the UK could access the Library of Congress catalogue in Washington DC in real-time. Later, in 1978, the first OPAC in the USA was introduced at the Dallas Public Library. In 1979 both Ohio State University Library and Princeton University Library were the first university libraries in USA to introduced OPACs. Throughout the 1980s, several other university libraries in Europe, Canada and USA began to set up similar networked OPACs in their libraries.

Oracle SQL databases, based on the 1972 relational database theories put forward by E. Codd at IBM, are introduced in 1980. Also, in 1980, Ashton Tate releases an updated version of the relational database dBASE. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, it was the top selling relational database package for desktop computers until Microsoft Access arrival in 1992. In the 1970s computer scientists began developing a standardised way to manipulate databases, and out of that research came SQL. The late 1970s and early '80s saw the release of a number of SQL-based products. SQL gained popularity when the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) adopted the first SQL standard in 1986. Continued work on relational databases led to improvements in SQL, making it one of the most popular database languages in existence. Some large software companies, such as Microsoft Corporation and Oracle Corporation, produced their own versions of SQL, and an open-source version, MySQL, became extremely popular. SQL works by providing a way for programmers and other computer users to get desired information from a database using something resembling normal English. On the simplest level, SQL consists of only a few commands: Select, which grabs data; Insert, which adds data to a database; Update, which changes information; and Delete, which deletes information. Other commands exist to create, modify, and administer databases.

Group Fax Standard introduced 1980. Faxes became obsolete at the start of the 2010s as it was replaced by internet email.

In summer 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to develop an Operating System for its forthcoming PC. Microsoft then bought a rudimentary version of DOS from Tom Patterson (which ran on Intel 8086 CPU). Microsoft tweaks it to run on 16-bit Intel 8088 CPU and called it MS DOS. In November 1980, IBM was satisfied with Microsoft DOS and a juicy contract was signed.

The first 5.25 inch Winchester hard drive was developed by Seagate in May 1980. This would soon replace the 1950s and 1960s magnetic cassette tapes as the main computer storage (a relic of 1950s and 1960s computers). From then on, the hard drive using magnetic disks would be the main storage alongside 5.25 inch floppy disks, which arrived for desktop computers in the late 1970s. Apple III was one of first computers to use hard drive in summer 1980. But hard drives only became popular in 1983, when the IBM PC XT arrived with a 20MB drive. Up to 1996 most PCs only had roughly 100 to 320 MB hard drive! Gigabyte hard drives only arrived in the bearly 2000s. Today a 1TB or 1000GB hard drive is the norm for laptops with no SSD or Solid State Drives. But SSD will one day replace hard drives. Meanwhile In 1981, Sony introduced the smaller 3.5 inch floppy disk and a double-side version in 1983. The USB stick of 1999 alongside Secure Digital cards (arrived in 2000), CD-R optical disks began to replace floppy disks as handheld portable storage. Before the USB stick or flash drive became popular, another storage media in 1994, and known as the ZIP disk, was used for a while (see photo below), but it was short-lived.


 

The photo above shows the humble 1980s and 1990s 3.5 inch floppy disk. Its maximum capacity was a tiny 1.44 MB!!!


The photo above shows the 1990s ZIP disk. It came in different capacities such as 100MB, 250MB and 750MB. They were meant to replace floppy disks from 1994 after Iomega invented them, but they were not widely adopted. Hence from the middle 2000s they ceased to exist, replaced by the USB stick, a.k.a. USB flash drive.

 

Xerox PARC who introduced us to the famous 1979 PARC Xerox Star (described earlier on) also introduced the computer network technology known as Ethernet in 1981, it is still the basis for all LAN connections today. Ethernet was the origin of the bus-connected computer network, used in all client-server networks today. Xerox developed Ethernet originally in 1973 via Robert Metcalfe, but it was only commercialised in 1981, after the IBM PC was introduced, so a big market was found for the invention. Local area networks (LANs) evolved from the early links to peripheral devices such as terminals and printers and 1973 marks the birth of the standard that will eventually prevail: Ethernet. Eternet still faced stiff competition from various local network standards including IBM’s Token Ring and Datapoint’s ARCNET. While Attached Resource Computer NETwork (or ARCNET or ARCnet) invented in 1976 by John Murphy is a communications protocol for local area networks or LANS today, ARCNET is applied mostly to Embedded Systems where certain features of the protocol are especially useful compared to using Ethernet. Embedded Systems are single or limited purpose computer systems with a dedicated function: the brains of a washing machine is an example of an Embedded System, once you put clothes and detergent into a washing machine, the brains does the rest including washing, rinsing and spin drying, regulating amount of water used and controlling the time spent to wash, rinse and spin dry. Because the brains of a washing machine isn't a computer in the common sense, it can't be programmed to do anything else such as dry cleaning clothes. If a real computer was installed in a washing machine, then one could in theory insert a memory card module into the washing machine, with software to instruct the washing machine how to dry clean. But this would simply increase the complexity and cost of the washing machine. Meanwhile Token Ring is different from Ethernet because of three main reasons: a) Ethernet supports a direct cable connection between two network interface cards by the use of a crossover cable or through auto-sensing if supported. Token Ring does not inherently support this feature and requires additional software and hardware. b) While multiple identical MAC addresses are supported on Token Ring, Ethernet cannot support duplicate MAC addresses, on an Ethernet network it is one computer, one MAC address! c) Token Ring is much more complex and expensive than Ethernet to set up.

Apart from Ethernet another 1980s networking technology still used today is Novell Netware, introduced in 1981. That it is still used today in universities, hospitals and companies worldwide as the basis of client-server network services, shows that many 1980s technology still rocks.



Today, if you log into a computer (Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 10) in a big university, big library or a big company, chances are your computer is linked to the main servers via Novell Netware software and technology. You type in your login credentials and bingo your logged in! Some systems will log you out, if your computer has been inactive for say 10 minutes.

The $2,800 IBM PC (shown below) was introduced in November 1981, after press launch in August 1981.  It used Intel 8088 and was first computer to use Microsoft MS -DOS as the operating system. It had 256KB RAM (yes that small!!). First version had no hard drive and had two Tandon 5.25 inch floppy disk drives. It also was able to use the popular operating system at the time, CP/M. It was a much powerful and faster desktop computer compared to the computers and CPUs listed above earlier on. It’s new bus architecture known as ISA was revolutionary and replaced the popular S-100 bus used in Commodore, Atari, RS-Tandy and Apple computers.


 

The IBM PC (shown above) introduced in November 1981, was the first computer to use Microsoft MS-DOS as the operating system in place of the popular CP/M operating system.

 

Also in 1981, the National Science Foundation or NSF provides a funding grant to universities to establish the Computer Science Network or CSNET to provide free ARPANET services (or NSFnet) to all universities in America. In the UK a similar free ARPANET service for UK universities was introduced in 1984 and called JANET. Other European versions setup in the 1980s were DFN in Germany, GARR in Italy, COSAC in France and SWITCH in Switzerland. The pan European academic Network is known as GEANT. By applying library OPACs to these networks, it was now possible to network OPACs nationwide and globally, allowing OPACs in several European cities to share books and periodicals data.


Hayes Smartmodem introduced 1981. Many consumers who logged into CompuServe in the 1980s and 1990s and also online BBS or Bulletin Board Systems used Hayes Smartmodems. Speeds where typically 300 bauds or more. See also 1978.


 

The 1981 Hayes Smartmodem (shown above) was the start of faster modems able to allow microcomputers to send large files such as photographs much faster than fax machines.

 

                                                                                                                               

TCP/IP network protocol official introduced 1982. It was based on designs put forward by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn way back in 1974. Both men are also considered the Fathers of the Internet. Today, TCP/IP has replaced replaced X.25 as the network protocol for accessing global computer communications around the world. ARPANET is now better known as The Internet. This can seen as the actual birth of the Internet, as many protocols and standards were agreed from this date and later on, following adoption of TCP/IP.

How do various devices (computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs, fridges game consoles etc) connect to the Internet?


 

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In the diagram above, for any device to connect to the Internet, one needs access to leased line access to the huge networks or Internet backbones known as Tier Networks. There are three such huge networks: Tier 1 (not shown above), Tier 2 (not shown above), and Tier 3. Tier3 is the “entry level” or gatekeeper. If you can access Tier3, your in! To access Tier3, as an individual, company or an educational institute, you need to subscribe to an ISP or Internet Service Provider. If you have a lot of money (i.e. you’re a big business, very rich individual or a big educational institution etc, you could build your own very expensive telecommunication system to access the Tier 3 networks, so bypassing ISPs. Because telephone companies worldwide already had access to millions of telephone users using Internet-compatible analogue and digital networks, the Internet backbone is run primarily by telephone companies. Thus, in the USA, for example, Tier3 networks are run by companies such as AT&T which uses PSTN to gain access to Tier3 Networks. If the telecom company is a major player in a country, they often also control massive Internet backbones or Tier1 networks in a country. AT&T, Sprint, (USA); Deutsche Telecom (Germany); BT, Vodafone (UK); Orange (France); Tata (India); NTT (Japan); Telefonica (Spain); KPN (The Netherlands), etc are examples of companies in a particular country that are run the Tier 1 networks. The first Tier 1 network was the American NSFnet in 1987. If the Tier1 network in a country suddenly failed, almost everyone in that country (except e.g. the military and government) would have no Internet access! Companies that run Tier2 or Tier 3 networks need access (via Peering) to Tier 1 networks to provide Internet access to its subscribers. Likewise, ISPs that run PSTN networks such as cable operators and phone companies need access to Tier 2 and Tier 3 networks to provide Internet access to its subscribers. Naturally, with so many players providing Tier networks worldwide, there must be national exchange services that connects Tier networks in one country with Tier networks in another country, these exchange services are simply termed Internet Exchange or IX or IXP. For Instance, the biggest IX in the UK is the London Internet Exchange or LINX. Almost all UK Internet traffic (except military internet traffic) that leaves the UK to connect to Internet traffic outside the UK, pass through LINX, via its peering and transit services. If LINX was to fail, an Internet user in London could access a website based on a server in Glasgow such as the one belonging to the National Library of Scotland, but won’t  able to access a website based outside the U.K. e.g. on a server in Paris, France such as www.radiofrance.com or the website of Radio France. The largest IXs (largest peering and transit services for Internet traffic) in the USA, Europe, South America and Asia respectively are: EQUINX and NYIIX in New York city, DE-CIX based in Frankfurt, Germany (also largest in the world), IX.br based Sao Paulo in Brazil and JPNAP in Tokyo, Japan.

Finally, how do we physically connect the Internet. The Tier3 networks physically connect to other Tier3 networks worldwide via massive fibre optics cables laid on the ocean bed and wirelessly, via cell phone towers, Microwave dishes, and telecommunication satellites. Thus, the Internet uses radio waves to transmit Internet data wirelessly. Today wireless and wired data communication technologies used to transmit data between computers/laptops/tablets/smartphones are Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Wireless HART, Z Wave, ANT, NFC, infra-red (used in old legacy devices), cellular data or mobile data such as 4G or LTE. For short distances the most common wireless method of Internet access is WiFi which was introduction was in 1999. For long distances distances the most common wireless method of Internet access is 4G/LTE.  Wireless data communications via WiFi use radio frequencies at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz in the Microwave band. But WiFi isn’t the only way to transmit data via radio frequencies, as mentioned above.

Fun Fact 1: examples of radio frequencies used in wireless data communication encrypted or unencrypted:

·         WiFi data at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz,

·         Bluetooth data at 2.4 GHz,

·         ANT data at 2.4 GHz (used in sports equipment like sports watches/sensors etc)

·         Wireless HART data at 2.4 GHz, uses a flat mesh network where all radio stations (field devices) form a network.

·         ZigBee data at 2.4 GHz, (used in electricity Smartmeters etc)

·         Z-Wave data at 868.42 MHz and 908.42 MHz

·         NFC and RFID data at 13.56 MHZ e.g. RFID data access is used in ePassports and accessed at airport passport control using software that can read RFID tags.

·         4G/LTE data typically 700/ 800/850/900 MHz and 1900/1800 MHz or 1.8 GHz/1.9 GHz. Other freqencies include 2.1 GHz, 2.3GHz, 2.5 GHz and 2.6GHz.

·         Aircraft data communication traffic at 1.2 GHz,

·         GLONASS navigation data at 1.6 GHz (navigation data)

·         GPS navigation data at 1.8 GHz (navigation data)

·         Satellite phone data at 23 GHz (e.g. Iridium and Globalstar satellite phone networks).

·         Secure military data communications at 26GHz to 170 GHz such as top secret encrypted NATO data communications.

·         Deep Space Network or DSN data, used by NASA to send and receive data from the Internation Space Station and spacecraft orbiting the earth or other planets, such as the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts that have been sending data back to earth DSN ground stations since 1977. Typical radio frequencies used include X band, e.g. 8-9 GHz; and S band, e.g. 2.3 GHz.

·         Infra-Red data (i.e. via legacy devices using IrDA) at 100 GHz

Some types of data transmission are encrypted and others unencrypted. The choice of which radio frequency to use in data communication/transmission depends on the amount of  data or bandwidth being exchanged, the distance between the receiver and transmitter, the power being consumed during data transmission, the frequency of data transmission etc. For instance to quickly send huge amounts of data in megabytes very quickly one needs to use WiFi or 4G. To send small amounts of data in kilobytes and receiver and transmitter are very near to each other, one needs to use NFC or RFID.  To send small amounts of data in kilobytes and receiver and transmitter are about 2 feet or more away to each other, one needs to use ZigBee.

Fun Fact 2: Government telecommunication regulators such as U.S. Federal Communications Commission in the USA and OFCOM in Britain regulate all the bands of the radio spectrum for both licensed and unlicensed use. Those for licensed use include GSM/4G/LTE radio spectrum used in mobile phones, tablets and some laptops, e.g. at 800MHz, 900 MHz, 1900 MHz and 1800 MHz or 1.8 GHz.  Other spectrums such 900 megahertz (MHz), 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), and 5 GHz are all for unlicensed use by anyone. So, for instance WiFi and Bluetooth are both unlicensed at 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. This spectrum is known as the licence-free Industrial, Scientific and Medical radio frequency or ISM. Some devices are made to wirelessly connect with another device, both don’t necessarily need to use WiFi and Bluetooth. Because 900 megahertz (MHz), 2.4 gigahertz (GHz), and 5 GHz are all unlicensed for free use, a device can wirelessly connect with another device BUT do so without using WiFi or Bluetooth!!! For instance, the device known as Roger Pen (used by deaf and hard-of-hearing people) connects wirelessly to the tiny transmitter in the ear hearing device using 2.4GHz, it doesn’t use WiFi, Bluetooth or NFC or ZigBee. So, its manual just says “Roger Pen uses 2.4GHz to connect wirelessly”

Fun Fact 3: Before the Internet and Satellite TV was common for consumers as seen today, it was still possible to wirelessly get information from another country on a daily basis anytime of the day, by listening to short wave radio stations in other countries such as Voice of America, Radio Moscow in Russia, Radio China in Beijing and BBC World Service in London. The radio sets used to access short wave radio used megahertz frequencies such as 3 MHz to 25MHz.

Compaq PC 1982. Second computer company to introduce a computer using the superior OS called MS- DOS, after the 1981 IBM PC.


1983 saw the first mass produced mobile cellphone phone, after its invention in 1973, the Motorola DynaTac 8000X.


The 1983 Motorola DynaTac 8000X cellphone being advertised in Spain in December 1983.

A smaller more hand friendly version was made in 1989, called the MicroTac 9800X.

The military part of ARPANET was switched to a separate secure military network known as MILNET in 1983. This allowed ARPANET to grow as a research oriented network (from NFS grants) known as NSFnet. The arrival of the web allowed the NSFnet  to become more commercialised and morph into the global computer network known today as the Internet.

As noted earlier on, a way of sending text data alongside TV signals to specially modified TVs had been launched in 1976. It was called Prestel or View Data. It was in essence a videotex system sending information such as news, sports, weather and other information to television sets. Similar late 1970s and 1980s systems were Minitel (France), Telidon (Canada) and Bildschirmtext (Germany). The French version, introduced in 1983 and known as Minitel was very very successful as it was also interactive and users could send text messages to each other using a Minitel Terminal. Between 1983 and 1991, the French government distributed over 5 million Minitel terminal fire of charge all over France. It also had an AppStore to download software for the Minitel. It was finally decommissioned in 2012, due to popularity of the Internet and the web.


Below is the famous Minitel from France




The 1983 Minitel from France.

The most popular bulletin board system appearing in the 1980s was FidoNet in 1983. It was the first public BBS to accept multiple simultaneous connections and use a network of centralised servers, making access easier.

In 1984, the famous molecular biology PIR database for scientists working on proteins was launched.

In 1983, CompuServe became the first to introduce Cloud storage, (similar to iCloud, Dropbox and OneDrive today). For a small fee, CompuServe offered its customers small online space to upload and to store documents, files etc. Today cloud storage solutions exists for consumers such as Google One, iCloud and OneDrive (each charge a small fee for premium options). For Businesses, cloud storage solutions (more expensive, sophisticated and complex in setup) include Amazon AWS (began 2006), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, Box and Oracle Cloud Storage. Apple Computers is belived to rent space from Azure or Amazon AWS for it customers using iPads, iPhones and iMacs.

The CD ROMs disks was introduced in 1984 by Sony and Phillips. They can store up 800 megabytes of data.




In 1984, the famous STN database host for chemists which gave access to CAS databases was launched.

In January 1984 a new $2,500 32-bit and 8MHz CPU computer called Apple Macintosh was the 3rd computer to have a screen with a Graphical User Interface or GUI and use a mouse, after Dyna Book in 1973 and Xerox Star in 1979. Windows 1 the 4th GUI operating system arrived in October 1985. Commodore also developed a Graphical User Interface or Amiga OS for its Amiga computers such as Amiga 500, but it went bankrupt in late 1990s. Today the most popular computers with GUIs are Windows 10, MacOSX and Unix Windows X and its many variants like Linux and Raspberry Pi miniomputers.


The 1984 Apple Macintosh.


The top selling PC for home consumers in Britain in 1987 was the new Amstrad PC 1512. It sold for the consumer friendly price of £399. Price included colour monitor with GUI operating system, floppy disk drive, mouse, and keyboard. It was the main way to access the many 1980s online services described here earlier on. The next upgrade, the Amstrad PC 1640 was also popular.


The 1987 Amstrad PC 1640 wth a GUI operating system and mouse similar to the 1984 Apple Maintosh.

In 1987, the number of Internet nodes or hosts (i.e. formerly known as the ARPANET nodes) is now 20,000. In the same year, CISCO introduced first Internet routers, using Xerox Ethernet technology (introduced in 1981). In 1988 the Corporation for National Research Initiatives received approval to a commercial e-mail service (MCI Mail) to the Internet. MCI Mail was thus the first commercial e-mail service to use the Internet protocols such as POP3. This email application was the first Internet connection to a commercial provider that was not also part of the research community. Approval quickly followed to allow other e-mail providers access, and the Internet began its first explosion in traffic. The next explosion was the addition of the worldwide web in early 1990s.

The first Tier 1 network or massive Internet backbone,  was the American NSFNET in 1987. If the Tier1 network in a country suddenly failed, almost everyone in that country (except e.g. the military) would have no Internet access!

In May 1987, IBM introduced the PS/2 series of PC. A new bus architecture known as MCA was also introduced to replace old ISA bus. Windows 2 operating system was released in December 1987 by Microsoft to replace the 1985 Windows 1.

1985 16-bit Microsoft Windows 1 screen.

1987 16-bit Microsoft Windows 2 screen. .

CIX (originally Compulink Information eXchange) was an online based conferencing discussion system and was one of the earliest British Internet service providers. Founded in 1983 by Frank and Sylvia Thornley, it began as a FidoNet bulletin board system, but in 1987 was relaunched commercially as CIX. In 1988 it provided the first commercial Internet email and Usenet access in the UK. In its heyday, CIX was one of the UK's premier online locations for both technical and social interaction. It hosted several official online support areas for companies such as Borland and Novell and counted among its subscribers many of the UK's technology journalists (some of them wooed with free accounts), which ensured regular mention in the computing press.


The Commodore’s Amiga 500 which was released in October 1987, was the top selling consumer PC in the world in the last years of the 1980s, alongside market  dominated by Apple models like the Macintosh II (March 1987), Macintosh IIx (September 1988) and IBM PS/2 (May 1987)  and models from Compaq.

 Dell computers was launched in 1988. From the middle 1990s till at least the end of the 2000s,  it surpassed HP, Sony, Asus, Compaq and IBM, as the worlds largest desktop computer manufacturer. My first desktop computer in the early 1990s while a university student was a cheap Dell Computer!


October 1988 saw the 16-bit Sega Mega Drive a fourth-generation video game console released by Sega in Japan and Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990. The console was released in North America in 1989 under the name Sega Genesis, since Sega was unable to secure legal rights to the Mega Drive name in that region. The Mega Drive was Sega's third home console and the successor to the Sega Master System.

Internet Relay Chat or IRC online in 1988. This live text only messaging service (can’t send images) was equivalent to Skype chat, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook Messenger today.

Intel 80486 CPU running at 25MHz is launched in April 1989. IBM then launches a PC running this new chip, the IBM Model 70-A21. It had 8 MB RAM and 128 MB ESDI hard drive.

Sun SPARC stations from Sun Microsystems costing £8,000 to £16,000 was introduced June 1989. It ran Unix with a graphical interface. It shipped with 16MB RAM and two 103 MB hard drives. It was popular with engineering departures in universities and is now owned by ORACLE. Sun SPARC stations use Solaris, a Unix operating system originally developed by Sun Microsystems. In 2010, after the Sun Microsystems acquisition by Oracle, it was renamed Oracle Solaris .


Sun SPARC stations front.

Sun SPARC stations backside.

EISA bus architecture was introduced in 1989 by non-IBM computer companies such as Compaq, as a direct competitor to the infamous 1987 IBM MCA bus. In many ways it was much better than MCA!

AOL was founded in 1989 in Dulles, Va. It joined CompuServe founded in 1978, as the two biggest online services in the 1980s before being eclipsed by the works wide web from the late 1990s.company initially served only users of Apple Computer's Macintosh and Apple II machines, expanding to include personal computers running Microsoft Corporation's Windows in 1993. America Online grew in popularity throughout the 1990s, also becoming the leading Internet service provider in the United States.

END OF THE 1980s

1990s


Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. Earlier in 1989, Nintendo released the Game Boy an 8-bit handheld video game device. It was released in Japan on April 1989, in North America in August 1989, Europe on September 1990. First handheld console in the Game Boy line also released.

Windows 3.0 and 3.1 in 1990 & 1992 respectively, were the first two most popular consumer OS to replace 1980s popular DOS computers.In 1995, they were replaced by Windows 95. Windows 3 had been released in May 1990, and Windows 3.1 in April 1992 and Windows NT in 1993.

System 7 in April 1991 was first 32-bit OS for Macintosh computers, also first Mac OS to be sold on CD-ROMs.

The World Wide Web is Born




In December 1990, Tim Berners Lee at CERN research centre in Geneva, Switzerland, introduced a browser for the popular graphical representation of the Internet, known as the World Wide Web. His system enabled him to display HTML text in a graphical way, with display of images and video included afterwards as the web developed. Tim Berners Lee had earlier initially achieved a draft based on a series of notes and diagrams on a note pad on 12th March 1989, by developing the HTML code used to write webpages. Then in 1990, he developed a crude web browser software known as WorldWideWeb to view the HTML code he had written in 1989. The web server was a NeXT computer. What was earlier a hobby in exploring information transmission developed into a wonderful idea today. The original idea for the development of the World Wide Web was to create some sort of online information management system. The latest version of HTML today is HTML5. The decision in 1991 to allow CERN HTML technology and the web browser to go live worldwide and  free to use was main reason for the web’s dramatic rise today.

In 1991, the PC Card (originally PCMCIA Card), a form factor of a peripheral interface designed for laptop computers is introduced. It is a standard for externally accessible expansion slots that accept compatible cards for enhancing the laptop functions, such as by adding memory or supplying a portable modem. Its successor in the late 1990s was the ExpressCard, was defined and developed by the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA).

Delphi was 1st world’s first popular consumer ISP in 1992 providing dial up access to the Internet. But the 1st commercial ISP was WORLDPDSTN.COM in 1989.

Demon (1992) and Pipex  were 1st and 2nd UK  first consumer ISP providing TCP/IP access via SLIP or PPP protocols.

In 1992, the first audio and video are distributed over the Internet.

The most significant data communication event of 1992 was the introduction in Europe of the mobile phone digital network standard known as GSM. This standard made it possible for cell phones to communicate with other cell phones regardless of network or country. But it only covered voice calls and text messaging. Data communication standard was first implemented in 1999 known as 2G or GPRS. Since then several updates have been announced such as 3G (introduction in 2001), 4G (2010) and in 2019, 5G networks are being implemented worldwide. After GSM was introduced in Europe, the American version known as CDMA was introduced in 1994 by Qualcomm, which has today has a monopoly on the supply of cellphone data communication or LTE chips to cellphone manufacturers worldwide.   The first GSM cell phone that was able to browse the web was the Nokia 7110 in October 1999.

In 1993, Anglo Dutch giant Reed Elsevier was launched. It is today one of the four largest academic and professional electronic information services aggregators alongside Thomson Reuters, ProQuest/CIG and EBSCO.

PCI local bus was introduced by Intel in 1993 to replace both MCA and EISA buses. PCI was in essence a local bus technology and thus worked very different from MCA and EISA which were both system I/O buses. This allowed a computer to handle faster processors of the day such as the current 1992 Intel 486 DX2 processor and the June 1993 upgrade known as the Intel Pentium processor running between 60 and 66 MHz. Local bus also allowed PCs to handle faster video graphics cards.

In 1993, the number of websites worldwide reaches 680. The first university website was the one set up in 1994 by the University of Illinois Library, the same university responsible for Mosaic web browser. First European library website was Helsinki Public Library website in Finland in 1995. Afterwards several other websites of official organisations, companies, universities and individuals began to appear. Among other prominent websites going live in 1992/1993 are the ones for the White House and United Nations.

Mosaic web browser arrived in 1993. Before this popular graphical web browser was launched, between 1991 and 1993, several earlier news non-graphical web browsers had been launched, such as libwww, Pello, Ernwise, ViolaWWW, Midas, Samba, Lynx, Cello, and Arena.

Netscape web browser arrived in 1994 as a commercial version of Mosaic.

Internet Explorer web browser from Microsoft arrived in 1995.

EasyNet in 1994 was were 3rd first consumer UK ISP.

The Sony PlayStation, a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, 1994. It used memory stick cards for game storage and used CD-ROM optical discs.

The second consumer solid state storage media was the 1995 SmartMedia memory card. Earlier in 1994, CompactFlash (CF) mass storage device format for portable electronic devices had been specified and produced by SanDisk in 1994.  Secure Digital memory cards arrived in 1999.

In 1995, the full GPS satellite constellation was now in orbit with 24 GPS satellites, but the first consumer GPS software was the 1991 Delmore Street Atlas. Lowrance, a company that made marine navigation products, had in 1991 introduced of its first GPS receivers, incorporating Rockwell GPS  technology. In 1995 Lowrance introduced the GlobalMap® 2000, the world's first LCD product to offer integrated GPS, mapping and sonar capabilities. 1st handheld consumer GPS device was the Magellan Nav 100. In 1995 Magellan created the first GPS-based vehicle navigation system in the U.S. in 1995, but Honda claims it created an earlier device in 1990 for its Honda Acura car.

Windows 95 was first 32-bit OS. First Windows OS to be sold on CD-ROMs.

Intel Pentium Pro processor is introduced by Intel in 1995.

Garmin began development on consumer GPS software and PNDs in 1996. One of the most popular of the Garmin handheld GPS receivers, the compact eTrex series, was introduced in 1998. First Garmin consumer GPS software for PDA was 1998 Garmin City Select. Company was founded in the U.S in 1989.

The 1996 Nintendo 64 often referred to as N64, was Nintendo′s third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in Brazil. It is Nintendo′s last home console to use square ROM cartridges to store games, as Nintendo switched to a MiniDVD-based format for the successor 2001 GameCube.

The Worldwide Web version of the British Library’s British National Bibliography in London known as OPAC97 was introduced in 1997.

In 1996 Palm, Inc., released the first Palm Pilot PDAs, which quickly became the model for other companies to follow. The Pilot did not try to replace the computer but made it possible to organise and carry information with an electronic calendar, a telephone number and address list, a memo pad, and expense-tracking software and to synchronise that data with a PC. The device included an electronic cradle to connect to a PC and pass information back and forth. It also featured a data-entry system called “graffiti,” which involved writing with a stylus using a slightly altered alphabet that the device recognised. Its success encouraged numerous software companies to develop applications for it.


The photo above shows the 1996 Palm Pilot PDA.

In 1996 Apple bought NeXTSTEP operating system from Steve Jobs company NeXT for $430 million. This is then used in MacOSX 10.1 or Puma in 2001, as the first in the MacOSX series of mac operating systems. Prior to this purchase all macs used System 8 operating systems which was in badly need of an upgrade.

In 1996, Microsoft and Gurdeep Singh-Pall invent PPTP or Point to Point Tunneling Protocol. This allowed the creation of VPNs or Virtual Private Networks (a secure way to use the Internet, with privacy the main focus, as encryption such as 256-bit encryption keys is usually used as well). VPNs are essentially private networks using public networks like the Internet. Today computer experts use VPNs in many ways such as to mask thier IP addresses when using the Internet anonymously (e.g. to prevent data harvesting) or using an American Internet media services such as HBO, shut out for European Internet users and vice versa (known as Geo-Spoofing). PPTP isn't used anymore dure to security flaws, instead the more secure protocol known as OpenVPN is used now used instead. L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) in tandem with IPSec (or Internet Security Protocol) is often used to allow VPNs to be set up easily and securely. An exciting alternative to VPN is Tor tools invented in 2002, such as the Tor web browser using an Onion Router (co-developed by the U.S. military). TOR means The Onion Router, and like VPN allows anonymous computer communication over the Internet.

In 1997 and 1999 respectively, Iridium and Globalstar launch satellite phone networks. It is now possible to transmit data between cell phones (using satellites) in remote areas like big deserts, ocean voyages or the North and South Pole research stations, where there are no ground cellphone towers to transmit cellphone signals.

In 1998 Microsoft Corporation produced Windows CE, a stripped-down version of its Windows 95 and Windows 98), for use on small mobile devices such as UMPCs and PDAs. It soon evolved into Windows Mobile in early 2000s. Before 1998, the market for PDAs hand been dominated by Palm (1996 Palm Pilot) and Psion (Psion Organiser II in 1986 and Psion 5 PDA in 1991).

First TomTom GPS software for PDAs: TomTom Route Planner in 1998. Company was founded in the Netherlands in 1991, 7 years after TeleAtlas map database was founded. TomTom began development on GPS car navigation devices or PNDs in 1997.

Also in 1998 Intel introduced Intel Pentium 2 running at 300 MHz.

In 1998, Google Search Engine is released.  Before Google, earlier search engines included 1994 Web Crawler and Lycos and in 1995 Alta Vista, Yahoo and Excite search engines. Also, in 1998, Internet Protocol version 6 or IPv6 is introduced to replace IPv4. This became necessary as IPv4 only uses 32-bit addressing so only allows 4.3 billion unique internet addresses or IP addresses. Meanwhile IPv6 uses 128-bit address so it can allow for over 500 trillion Internet addresses. Every computer on the Internet has both a unique public and unique private IP address.

PCI-X bus architecture in 1998 was introduced to replace the 1993 PCI bus. Later on in 2004, the newer PCI-Express bus architecture was introduced.

Another notable event in 1998, was however the adoption of USB first by Apple computers in the 1998 iMac G3. Today USB 3 and USB C are the standard serial interface for exchanging or accessing data between two different devices, e.g. the USB flash drive (introduced in 1999). 

The first GSM cell phone that was able to browse the web was the Nokia 7110 in October 1999.

WiFi introduction was in 1999, after its protocols were agreed in 1997. The first versions were 802.11 a/b in 1999, 802.11g in 2003, and 802.11 n in 2009. 802.11 refers to 11th February 1980, when the first protocols for WiFi data communication were introduced.

Cable and ASDL modems released in 1999 mean faster access to the Internet and so confining the slower dial-up access to the dustbin. Also in 1999,  Microsoft upgraded last years Windows 98 to Windows 98 Second Edition.

Peer-to-Peer file sharing over the Internet was introduced first for audio in 1999 via Napster, and later for video via e.g. uTorrent app.

Intel releases the Intel Pentium 3 it was the first CPU running at 450 MHz in February 1999.

In 1999, SanDisk, Matsushita, and Toshiba agreed to develop and market the SD (Secure Digital) Memory Card. It was commercially released in early 2000.

Finally, DVD and DVD-ROM disks reached worldwide coverage in 1999, each disk can hold between 4.7 to 8.5 gigabytes of data or video. DVD disks were first introduced by Toshiba in Japan in November 1996, in the United States in March 1997, in Europe in October 1998, and in Australia in February 1999. Long before the DVD was in the market, The LaserDisc had been released in 1983. It was the first commercial optical disc storage medium for high quality videos. Initially marketed as DiscoVision in 1978. Pioneer Electronics purchased the majority stake in the format and marketed it as LaserDisc in 1983. The first Laserdisc title marketed in North America was the MCA DiscoVision release of Jaws in 1978. The last two LaserDisc titles released in North America were Paramount's Sleepy Hollow and Bringing Out the Dead in 2000, as DVD movies gained a monopoly for all movie releases on discs. Blu Ray disks arrived in 2006 to replace DVDs, each disk can hold more between 25 to 50 gigabytes of data, meanwhile 4K Blu Ray disk introduced in 2016, can hold 66 to 100 gigabytes of data

A BRIEF HISTORY OF EMAIL

Earlier on I had noted that in 1965, two computers at MIT Lincoln Lab communicate with one another using packet-switching network. Then in 1969, two ARPANET computers in two different cities in the USA were able to communicate with one another using packet-switching network. This is the first such demonstration of dedicated data communication over long distances linked by cables and using packet-switching network. The ARPANET experiment of connecting two remote computers by a packet-switching networks was in fact also a way to send messages between two computers, so in essence email was invented in 1969. This is because in 1969, ARPANET’s so-called Compatible Time-Sharing System allowed users to share files and text messages (i.e. email) on a central disks, logging into remote terminals. Access to networked computers via Time-Sharing means simultaneous use of a central computer (i.e. mainframe/minicomputer) by many users at remote locations using terminals. Typical costs in those days for time-sharing a terminal linked to mainframe/minicomputer was $3 to $10 an hour.

In 1976, the Queen Elizabeth II of England sent the 1st computer email or electronic message in Europe, using ARPANET at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, England. But the first proper email on ARPANET sent from one computer to another computer wasn’t in 1969, it happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1972 via Ray Tomlinson, This is because Tomlinson also invented the @ symbol used in today’s email addresses. This symbol was adapted as standard for ARPANET in 1977, as well as having “to” and “ from” fields in an email message. These first two emails in 1972 and 1976 were however both different from the way Internet email works today, as the Internet email protocols such as TCP/IP, SMTP IMAP, and POP3 hadn’t been invented (they arrived in 1982 onwards).

The popular consumer online services available in the 1980s and 1990s, before the World Wide Web email became widely available, such as CompuServe (founded 1979), AOL (1989), Delphi (1991), Prodigy and Apple eWorld, all offered email services. For instance from 1989, CompuServe users had email access to the Internet via the format userID@compuserve.com

Two other significant email system available in late 1980s were Lotus Notes Mail in 1989 and IBM Notes Mail a year later.

In 1988 the Corporation for National Research Initiatives received approval to a standard commercial e-mail service (MCI Mail) to the Internet. MCI Mail was thus the first commercial e-mail service to use the Internet protocols such as POP3. This email application was the first Internet connection to a commercial provider that was not also part of the research community. Approval quickly followed to allow other e-mail providers access, and the Internet began its first explosion in traffic. The next explosion was the addition of the worldwide web based email services from the late 1990s such as Hotmail in 1996, Yahoo mail in 1997 , and Gmail or Google Mail in 2004.

Microsoft entered the email business in 1988, with the release of Microsoft Mail for the Macintosh computer. This was possible as the Macintosh already had a standard network technology known as AppleTalk, where files could be exchanged between  Macintosh computers or a printer shared between computers. So in essence Microsoft Mail allowed Macs to exchange emails with each other. Microsoft Mail was released for DOS and Windows computers in 1991, these Microsoft email systems would later evolve into Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange in the 1993. Microsoft bought hotmail in 1997. Blackberry Mail was introduced in 2003. It was first mobile device to use Internet email. Apple iCloud email services for the iPhone and iPad arrived in 2007.

The ability to send email attachments was introduced in 1992, with the arrival of the MIME protocol or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension. This allowed files like documents, images etc to be sent alongside an email message.

END OF EMAIL STORY


Apple Newton MessagePad 2000 and Newton MessagePad 2100 PDA below with Internet access via modem card came in 1997. Meanwhile Blackberry PDA arrived  in 1999.


The 1997 Apple Newton MessagePad 2000 was series of personal digital assistant or PDA devices developed by Apple Computer for the Newton platform in 1993. Smmary of specs: The Apple Newton MessagePad 2000, codenamed Q, features a 162 MHz StrongARM 110 processor, 4 MB or 8 MB of Mask ROM, 1 MB or 5 MB of RAM (1 MB of DRAM, 4 MB of Flash RAM), dual PCMCIA slots, dual-mode IrDA-beaming capabilities, and a Newton InterConnect port for multiple connectivity options, in a sleek handheld case with a 4.9 in. by 3.3 in. 16-level grayscale backlit LCD display (480x320 @ 100 dpi) for use with a provided stylus. The MessagePad 2000 combines a higher-resolution screen with a processor that is ten times faster than previous models to create the ultimate Newton. The Newton MessagePad was one of the first series of handheld systems, or PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), to attempt to recognize natural handwriting and use a basic form of artificial intelligence to 'tie' relevant information together. Please note that Newtons are technically not 'Macs', as they do not operate the MacOS, and instead use the NewtonOS (also developed by Apple).

 

 

 

END OF THE 1990s

All of the new technologies introduced in-between the 1950s and 1990s were enhanced in the 2000s and 2010s. A few notable arrivals are: introduction of digital cameras (2000), Pocket PC iPaq (2000), broadband Internet access (2000), MacOSX 10.1 or Puma (2001 first in the MacOSX series of mac operating systems), Intel Pentium P4 running at 1.4 GHz (2000) and 3GHz (2003), Apple started using Intel CPUs in 2005 to replace PPC processors and first Mac with  from summer 2006. Bitcoin and blockchain arrived in 2006. USB 2.0 arrive in 2000, while USB 4.0 arrived 2019. UMPCs such as 7-inch screen HTC Shift arrived from 2006, they are now replaced by tablets. Sony releases 64-bit PlayStation, 2 (2000) and 64-bit PlayStation 3 (2006) and 64-bit PlayStation 4 in 2016. New  2000s PC operating Systems include Windows 2000, Windows XP (2001), Windows Vista (2007) and Windows 7 (2009). Blu Ray disks arrived in 2006, each disk can hold more between 25 to 50 gigabytes of data, meanwhile 4K Blu Ray disk introduced in 2016 can hold 66 to 100 gigabytes of data. 3G cell phones in 2001.4G arrived in 2010. In 2019, 5G is starting to replace 4G with major firms such as China’s Huawei as well as Nokia and Ericsson the three leading 5G network suppliers. The 5G network is meant to be 100 times more rapid than 4G and is viewed as the next major step in the digital data communication revolution that makes data transfers almost instantaneous between mobile devices like cellphones and tablets.


Copyright © 2019 Godfrey Oswald, Oswald Productions, London. U.K.


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