How old were you when the Internet was born?

There are many people alive today who’ve never known a time when the Internet or computers didn’t exist, but only kernels of the imagination that birthed such an amazing technology were on the horizon before I was a full-fledged adult. I’m a television baby.

I was born in 1950 and I don’t remember a time when a television wasn’t around, but it was a terribly fascinating invention for my parents’ generation – a tube with both sound and pictures. Imagine what it must have been like for them the first time they saw images of the outside world coming into their homes, but still no one was sure it would take off. Maybe it would be here today and gone tomorrow. Radio was a sure thing.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrews were the first in our neighborhood to get the new invention, and my parents used to go to their house to watch it. Dad loved gadgets and this was the granddaddy of them all. We soon had the small box in our living room, and I was a member of the first generation who fell in love with Lucy.

My parents’ generation had to wait for news from Europe during World War II. That seems outrageous now. We have news from around the world instantly, and can actually communicate with people who are in the midst of the history-making event.

Herman and I remember being glued to CNN during the Persian Gulf War. CNN was the ONE to watch when all others were expelled from Iraq (MSNBC didn’t even exist and FOX was barely out of the box). When video was cut, we only had sound, but it was still more than anyone had ever experienced before.

After the video “plug” was pulled, we listened intently as Bernard Shaw, John Holliman and Peter Arnett gave breathless coverage from a hotel room as air bursts exploded in the background. We were enthralled. It was the first time anyone had ever seen or heard a war in real-time… while sitting comfortably in their living room thousands of miles away.

Ignited through Facebook, videos of the protest in Cairo, Egypt are available all over the Internet . There were minute to minute updates, and a live stream is available at Al Jazeera English.
MOHAMMED ABED / AFP – Getty Images MSNBC Photoblog

Even when government’s pull the plug, it’s still difficult to prevent information from reaching the outside world with the varied forms of communication available today.

This isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed utilization of technology to spark a protest. We saw the same thing happen in Iran. The protests following the 2009 presidential elections were dubbed, among other things, the “Twitter Revolution” because the protesters relied on Twitter to get the word out.
Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate in the streets of Tehran Photo: GETTY

Someone who was born in 1917 (the year my father was born) has seen many inventions and changes, and watched as many of those inventions grew from infancy to adult – airplanes, telephones, television, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and even store-bought mayonnaise, pancake flour and sliced bread. Some of these things didn’t exist in 1917, and others would be unrecognizable if compared to their modern evolution.

So if you were little more than a gleam in your father’s eye when the Internet was born, you’ll find the following video quite silly, but remember that you’re living in a time when technology is outpacing everything except the human imagination. There will be many inventions in your lifetime that will fascinate your spirit and dazzle your sense of wonder, but your children and grandchildren will take them for granted, even find them passé. It’s the way of the world.

For a little perspective, check out this 1994 video of the Today Show. My favorite part is when Katie Couric says, “Internet is that massive computer network – the one that’s becoming really big now.
If you can’t see the video go “HERE.”


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