Scripting News for 10/28/2006

What year was this picture taken in? 

CNN had a quiz a few days ago asking when was email invented. It was multiple choice, and the earliest date was 1981, which turns out to be their answer. They put up a picture of Eric Allman, saying he was the inventor. Oy, such is the state of journalism today. I think 1981 was the year CNN was invented. Email goes back to, at least, the early 70s. I used email at the University of Wisconsin in 1977 and it was’t new then.  

Wikipedia: “E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate.” 

Someday search will be old too 

Many years ago, when the Internet was still the domain of geeks, researchers and college students, the smart folks often said that the opportunities for new software companies were over, it simply required too much scale to compete in an industry dominated by Lotus, Microsoft and Ashton-Tate. Now it’s clear how ridiculous that was, even though it was correct. The next layer comes on not by building on the old layer (a trick, the guy you’re building on will eat your lunch), or re-doing what they did (what the naysayers correctly say you can’t do), but by starting from a different place and building something new, and so different that the old guys don’t understand it and don’t feel threatened by it.

At first, the Internet, the market dominated by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon (and others) was about the web, a publishing environment, then it became two-way, and search developed as a core but adjunct feature, much as the OS of a personal computer is part of the package, but the spreadsheet, word processor and other productivity apps are really what it was about. There will be new technology enterprises that make the search engine as humdrum as the desktop OS is today. Bet on it and win. Think that all innovation must come in the form of applications of search and you’ll be left in the dust.

12 responses to this post.

  1. It just occurred to me that developing threads here is invisible to TechMeme and search too. Sounds like a good gestural foundation.


  2. Yeah, I remember first using email sometime in the mid-1970’s.


  3. I was using a crude email system in 1968-1972 in the US Navy with a Teletype machine. ZCZC started the sequence out followed by addresses, and NNNN at the end to signal the end of the message.

    Messages were stored on IBM 360s at Fort Meade Maryland at NSA, and Arlington, Virginia at the Pentagon.

    We were doing moon-bounce communications from the middle of the Mediterranean Sea in 1969 while Woodstock was going on, and the astronauts were walking on the moon.


  4. Posted by Jacob Levy on October 28, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Dave did you read “The Search”? Its a new book by Jonathan Batelle. Very interesting read. He makes the point that search is still totally in its infancy, and hasnt yet become even close to effective. For example, how do you search for a page containing the names of three Saudi princes that is linked from known terrorist sites? Etc. Search by keywords is very limited and not able to answer questions like this and more complex ones.


  5. Amazing. The Gore Years lasted, what? Two weeks?

    I know one thing. Apathy will destroy you.

    Anyway, I’m outta here. Good luck, you guys.


  6. Steve, be careful where you lay your gestural foundations. 🙂

    Dave, on search … amen.


  7. Jim, that sounds very familiar, especially the ZCZC and NNNN sequences. I used a DoD system — maybe the same as yours — running on Control Data hardware. We banged out our messages on a GE Teletype-style terminal. I recall that we had enough traffic that someone was assigned the duty of pulling off, sorting, and distributing the replies. Can’t remember what kind of addressing scheme it had, but there definitely was one. This was in 1973-74.

    We also played Lunar Lander. Nothing like a game whose speed is measured in keystrokes per minute.


  8. Just checking Gabe.


  9. How do I link directly to the comment by Mark Lucovsky here? I see Dave doing this all the time, but what is the formula to tease out the URL extension?


  10. click on the time of the comment, copy the url


  11. Posted by MarkSW on October 29, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    What about delicious as an example of a useful application that assumes search as an infrastructure and makes something from the aggregated results? All the links people post to delicious they found by Googling. Meanwhile Google is boxed into providing this infrastructure for all of us — it’s their business and brand. And it’s a very expensive position to be in compared to delicious. delicious could even conceivably become a competitor, since both sites serve the same basic need – “I need a good page about X.” And Google can do nothing about the competition other than continue to support it.


  12. Posted by Allen Cole on October 30, 2006 at 11:15 am

    how about this.

    Richard W. Watson Request for Comments #196
    SRI-ARC NIC 7141 July 20, 1971 Categories: A.5, D.7
    Obsoletes: none Updates: none A MAIL BOX PROTOCOL

    There aren’t “email addresses” at this time, but you can send a file with
    the intent of delivering it to a person.

    Before that they just posted RFC’s that were used to communicate between the community members.


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