Linux and growth of Internet

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Thu Jan 13 15:50:15 2005

On Thu, 13 Jan 2005, Steven M Jones wrote:

> I'd be far more interested in getting people's recollections of
> that period on the record, so to speak, than being "right." It's
> a big world, other people would have seen/remembered different
> things out there... Hell, maybe I was stuck in a backwater and
> missed all the action, who knows?

I totally concur. Getting these oral histories down now (and having the
benefit of automated archiving and the ability to search them in the
future) is incredibly useful.

> seen much the same spread of email and the 'Net. I am content
> to be viewed as an isolated crackpot if need be -- that was in
> fact a career goal of a friend of mine in college. ;^)

His name wasn't Ted Kaczynksi by any chance? ;)

> >> One is the rise of CompuServe and AOL, which I'll leave for
> >> another discussion.
> >>
> > And which were closed, proprietary online services which
> > eventually transformed into Internet gateways only after the
> > Internet had "arrived" at the mainstream.
> Well, that would be the "other discussion." ;^) But while they
> were proprietary and so on, they were recognized and acceptable
> to a very large population. I don't say this to take anything
> away from the BBSes, which were still cruising along in this
> period; it would be interesting to see if anyone can dig up some
> contemporary statistics about users in the two categories. But
> the point was that since these services were popular, they did
> introduce a significant user segment to the online world
> including email, and they did allow email addressed to external
> users, all of which increased what we'd now call the network
> effect of Internet and email adoption.

But my original assertion was that the rapid rise, development and
adoption of the Internet to the mainstream masses was propelled by Linux.
And while you had "e-mail", unless we're talking about Internet e-mail
(and notwithstanding Fidonet), it was based in closed, proprietary systems
that were not interconnected. The introduction to the Internet was an
afterthought, only when it proved itself to be indispensable to their
viability as a business.

Another thing is that we've had the internet since the 1960s. Many people
tried to bring predecessors of the Web (e.g. Videotex) systems to the US
in the 1980s and failed. But in the 1990s, even amidst a severe economic
recession, the Internet caught on and boomed. Why? What was the
difference between the 1980s and the 1990s? After all, the technology was
all in place in the 1980s for the Internet to take off (the BBS' show
this) but it didn't. Why not?

> > Again, TCP/IP only came to Windows and the Mac because it became
> > necessary to offer this due to the rising popularity of Internet
> > access.
> Maybe yes, maybe no. This is also the era where "open systems"
> were being deployed on a large scale in the corporate world,
> and access to these systems via TCP/IP from the desktop was a
> key requirement. And that trend was independent of whether or
> not the corporation had external IP network connections, though
> by this period they were sprouting up all over the place too.

But what time period are we talking about? Very early 1990s or closer to
the middle 1990s? I seem to remember it being the latter. And also keep
in mind that wasn't the clear winner until at least 1994. Novell was
still trying to press IPX until at least 1995-1996 when it was clear the
market was not buying their argument.

> All I mean to point out is that there were other strong factors
> behind TCP/IP coming to the Windows/Mac platform. And while the
> corporate users would pay, the realities of the academic budget
> ensured that something cheap/free would be available to meet the
> same needs.

But again, did the adoption of Internet occur as a result of "Open
Standards" or was it the other way around? I believe it was the latter.

> Anyways, I hope that at some point you get a chance to write up
> what you saw happening around that time with the small ISPs and
> Linux, and share it with us. That goes for the other list
> members too; I was hoping for a wider response, and especially
> views from outside the US. I've been focusing on the 1993-4
> period because of the way it set the stage for growth once the
> Web caught on, but feel free to roll forward or backward too.

I'll have to catch up with my friend one day and make sure I have all the
technical details down. I know their systems included at least one Sun
box in the mix, but the first system he put up and hooked some modems to
was definitely a Linux box.

> Then again, maybe this is the wrong forum. I'll let the silence
> be my guide...

This list is for the discussion of computer history, which certainly
includes the Internet ;)

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
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Received on Thu Jan 13 2005 - 15:50:15 GMT

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