Seven Great Moments in World Wide Web History
From Fry to Lane Fox - can you remember where you were?
Web @ 25 + Bong [I am grateful to my assistant มาลัย (which means 'Garland of Flowers' in Thai) for scraping the BBC website to bring us these facts, which I have then curated. If you can remember any of this, you can't have been there – sb]
1. 1989: Nuclear beginnings
At CERN in Switzerland, humble English white-coated lab assistant Tim Berners-Lee is asked to store some radioactive isotopes overnight. When he returns the next day, he can’t believe what he finds. He’s invented the Internet!
2. 1997: The Euro currency symbol appears on keyboards
A mysterious symbol marking the end of hundreds of years of slaughter begins to appear on computer keyboards around the world. This is the symbol for the Euro currency, a kind of Bitcoin of its day. Unfortunately, because it is only listening to swivel-eyed Little Englanders, the UK stubbornly refuses to join the Euro currency, which turns out to be the greatest economic success story in history. Another tech near-miss for Britain. Why, oh why?
3. 1999: Martha Lane Fox invents travel
Confined to home watching repeats of Morecambe & Wise and Blackadder, the British long to be able to visit Europe for the first time. Martha Lane Fox spots a gap in the market. Lane Fox invents low cost travel with her EasyJet and Ryan Air services, fleets of Trabant-like, web-powered “freedom jets” that land miles from the city on the departure card. Millions see an overseas country for the first time, singing "Una Paloma Blanca! I'm just like a bird in a tree!". The dot.com boom follows. This humble niece of a Baroness has since risen to a seat in the House of Lords, as Baroness Fox of Soho. Which proves anyone "can do it".
4. 2001: Jimmy Wales invents knowledge
For thousands of years facts and ideas have never been written down, except in esoteric languages like Latin and known only to a handful of insiders. Inspired by the example of Martha Lane Fox, Jimmy Wales decides to blow open the gates to the garden of wisdom. His ‘Wikipedia’ brings facts to the masses for the first time ever. Now even young schoolchildren know the meaning of words like frottage, felching and Gokkun.
5. 2009: Stephen Fry’s First Tweet
National Treasure Stephen Fry discovers he can type in his sleep. He uses an obscure social network that's only ever used by media people and web consultants to test it out - called Twitter. It works! Within weeks, cinemas, pubs and café and the streets are empty as a nation hangs on for Fry’s latest observations. Three months later, Egypt and Libya are in flames as freedom and democracy sweep across the Arab World. Fry’s first words, “Director just casually dropped a bombshell. I have to ride a mule tomorrow. A thousand boiling arses. Two hours up a mountain. Buttery fuck.” become legendary in technology history and a rallying cry for every oppressed freedom fighter. [NSFW - ed.]
6. Steve Jobs invents the mobile phone
Throwing his latest manservant out of the window, demonic Apple founder Steve Jobs notices that the body bounces several times before coming to a rest in a hideous twisted heap in his organic Californian orchard. This gives him an idea. Why don’t telephones do away with wires but have user interface elements that bounce, too? The first mobile phone, the ‘iPhone’ is invented. The rest is history.
7. Silicon Roundabout becomes Tech City - the UK once again rules the tech world
It’s 2010 and Britain is bankrupt and desolate after almost 20 years of Chavez-style socialism. An entire generation of upper middle class graduates – the so-called “wasted generation” - despair of their options: will it be skiing or Goa this year? Only one man sees their potential. Brilliant, tech-savvy No.10 aide Rohan Silva, waking up in the middle of Old Street roundabout one morning vows to unleash their go-it-alone entrepreneurial talents using only billions of pounds of subsidies - and the World Wide Web. Four years on, and the social media boutiques and meetups of ‘Tech City’ are the envy of the world. Take that, USA! ®