To Jean Armour Polly, the commercial landscape of the Internet has somewhat come full circle.
A 2019 Internet Hall of Fame inductee, Polly was among the first librarians in the country to facilitate patrons’ Internet access after she convinced the Liverpool, New York, public library to buy an Apple desktop for public use.
In a recent video interview, Polly pointed out that many of the pressing issues facing contemporary Internet users were also concerns raised in the early days of commercial Internet access.
“A lot of these things were predicted and we were warned about them,” she said. “Things like loss of privacy and malevolence and malware. We were warned, but a lot of us put on our rose-colored glasses, said ‘Oh well’ and went chasing waterfalls anyway.”
Larry Irving did not have just a single “Aha” moment when attempting to expand the Internet’s reach.
He had dozens.
“Every time I talked to somebody, their ‘aha’ moment became my ‘aha’ moment,” he said in a recent video interview. “They’d see it through their lens and that would make me a better articulator of this vision because now I’ve got 15 or 20 or 30 visions.
“If you put the technology in the hands of the people, they’ll come up with great ideas every time.”
A 2019 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Irving served for seven years as administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, becoming one of the main architects of telecommunications policy in the Clinton White House.
He is credited with developing the phrase “digital divide” to describe the gap between people who do and do not have regular, reliable access to the Internet.
August marked the 25th anniversary of commercial Internet services making their debut in India.
Among the key people facilitating Internet access was Srinivasan Ramani, a 2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductee. In the early 1980s, Ramani proposed and helped develop an academic network that started with email exchanges and the development of TCP/IP protocols between some of the country’s major cities.
In a recent piece for LiveMint, several of the people directly involved with the launch of India’s commercial Internet service recalled the unique challenges they had to overcome in the 1990s, even with the groundbreaking work from Ramani and his academic colleagues in the 1980s.
"It was a very primitive precursor of the web," Gopi Garge said. “It’s a single system where you have one telephone line and one modem. You have a set of users who log in one at a time and leave messages, read messages from the others, and then log off. Then somebody else logs on."
If you ask Bob Metcalfe, connectivity is key.
As part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Faculty Forum Online, the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame inductee took to Zoom for 45 minutes earlier this year to discuss the role of connectivity growth.
Metcalfe is the author of a 1973 memo that invented the Ethernet, of which more than 1.2 billion new ports are shipped each year -- 400 million wired and 800 million WiFi. Prior to that, he built a high speed network interface and protocol software between a packet switching ARPAnet IMP and PDP-10 time-sharing minicomputer at MIT. He is also the founder of 3Com, a multi-billion dollar networking company.
With almost 60 percent of the world’s population now with web access, Metcalfe urged listeners to be mindful of the impacts of the steady increase in connectivity and to watch them carefully.
“I want to convince you all that the most important new fact about the human condition is that we are now suddenly connected,” he said. “I’m going to try to convince you...
The year was 1995, there was no Internet yet in West Africa, and Jean Marie Noagbodji was frustrated.
For two years, the small computer company he headed, CAFE Informatique, had tried to create a network for business and banks in Lome, the capital of Togo. It had hired two outside experts, but neither had been able to develop a workable system for live banking online.
So, in desperation, Noagbodji turned to a young computer engineer who, while barely out of graduate school, had shown remarkable abilities as an intern with the company.
The intern, Adiel Akplogan, was promised a full-time job if he could succeed where others had failed.
“I worked night and day for three days, fixed the technical issue they were having and came up with an online banking prototype based on French Minitel technology,” Akplogan recalled. “When the CEO looked at it, he was practically crying. It was the start of our journey to the Internet in Togo.”
It was also an early milestone in a stellar career that has brought Akplogan entry into the Internet Hall of Fame.
From that first local network, Akplogan went on to become a giant in the world of computer networks, a pioneer in bringing...