The Internet’s 43 years old this year—that’s the same age as The RZA and Patton Oswalt—putting 1969 in the running for Best Year Ever. But for all we know about the Wu-Tang Clan and KFC Famous Bowls, the mass majority of users surfing the interwebz know next to nothing about its history. To get you up to speed we’ve put together a pictorial timeline of 20 of the most significant events in the history of the Internet, from its inception right up to the meme, kitteh and rickrolling phenomenon it is today.
Recently, a correspondent with more attitude than common sense excoriated me for having no taste. He could be right, but I doubt it.
I had mentioned in passing that I have thousands of CDs in my music collection, enough to fill a 3-terabyte hard drive. This particular adversary’s argument was that because taste is the product of a thousand distastes, obviously I had none because I had failed to winnow my collection. It doesn’t take a lot of smarts to realize that this is an inaccurate application of Sturgeon’s Law.
Mice—they’re something we PC enthusiasts tend to take for granted. After all, once you’ve specced out your new rig with a blazing fast processor and a video card the size of a VCR, what’s it really matter what we use to move the pointer around?
In compiling a list of the world's oldest software companies, one comes face to face with an inevitable question. Namely, what is it? What the heck is this thing we call "software?"
While it's easy to say that Windows or Office or even the wanton dismemberment of Dead Space 2 are obvious examples of software, where does one draw the line? Did software, for instance, exist before the advent of computers? In our minds, it did. Though the concept of altering the performance of mechanisms by feeding them independent sets of instructions has clearly become rampant in the computer age, it in fact started long before that – the early 18th century, to be exact. And that is precisely where we'll start our journey.
Ah, hard drives, how far you've come. It's incredible to think that only 30 years ago, the top end hard drive you could get stored 5MB of data and ran with a separate controller entirely! But, that's technology for ya'. Technology doesn't grow gradually, it grows exponentially, and watching that growth is one of our favorite things to do. In the spirit of this, we present to you the evolution of desktop storage, in image form. Enjoy!
The world of tech journalism has a wicked case of tunnel vision. We’re often so busy hunting for the next piece of hardware hotness or slick new start-up that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that while technology is often thought of as a gateway to the future, it can also serve as a vibrant doorway to the past. For this edition of Cool Site of the Week, we take a visit to the seedy end of memory lane with Small Town Noir.
For the longest time, Xmarks has been my Firefox bookmark synchronization tool of choice. I've been using it forever, and I can't recall the last time it's presented me with any kind of problem--that's because it never has. Simply put, Xmarks is an amazing tool for keeping your bookmarks in check across multiple installations of the Firefox browser.
But this post isn't about Xmarks. Mozilla itself has released its own synchronization tool dubbed "Weave Browser Sync," and it offers up even more possibilities than the trusty ol' Xmarks add-on. So why am I not fawning over this extension outright and declaring it to be the greatest browser synchronization tool since the sliced bread, er, synchronization utility? Well, a few stability issues reported by other Firefox users have left me a bit cautious to suggest that Weave is the answer to all of your dreams. It's certainly worth trying out, just don't put all your eggs in your woven basket should it not ultimately work on your browser--or worse, accidentally nuke your bookmarks.
Click the jump to find out just how tangled a web Weave has woven!
The first stereoptic movies were shown in theaters in 1922 and used red and blue (anaglyph) glasses. The first public demonstration of the Polaroid projection of 3D movies was at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York in a promotional film for Chrysler.
In 1946, 90 million people a week went to the movies. Only a few years later, television had cut those attendance numbers almost in half. The studios were looking for ways to compete with this upstart industry. (Sound familiar?)
The first thing the studios did was to increase the number of Technicolor productions, because television was only black-and-white. They also began experimenting with various big screen processes. Cinerama had a wraparound screen and needed three cameras and three projectors. VistaVision used 70mm film at 30fps. Cinemascope used 35mm film projected through an anamorphic lens that stretched it sideways to fill a wide curved screen.
But in 1952 an independent producer named Arch Oboler brought Bwana Devil to the theaters. It was a pretty dreadful movie, telling the story of two lions that killed 130 people during the construction of an African railroad, but the novelty of 3D drew large audiences to the theaters and the major studios were quick to leap aboard.
According to a recent study by Mozilla, the number one reason for users not upgrading from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3 was the new location bar, and the fact that it went deep into people’s bookmarks to suggest sites as they typed. More than 25 percent cited this as their reason for keeping the last generation of Firefox as their browser of choice.
“When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed,” said Firefox’s principal designer, Alex Faaborg. “In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you.”
On a related note, Mozilla has introduced a private browsing mode in Firefox 3.5. So, you know, if this is the sort of thing you need to have – it’s safe to upgrade now.
In order to surf the web, you need a web browser, and today there are several different ones to choose from. If you're looking for a lean, no-nonsense browser, Chrome is the one for you. Internet Explorer still stands as the odds on favorite when you want to make sure pages load correctly (not because of superior standards support, but because its majority market share have driven developers to code their webpages to look best on IE). Firefox has found more than a niche market by giving users near endless customization, and Apple's Safari purports to run circles around everyone else (it doesn't). And then there's the cornucopia of alternative browsers and browser shells, like Flock (Firefox-based) and Avant (IE-based).
No matter which browser you choose to surf the web with, the features you take for granted today are the result of nearly two decades of browser design. On the following pages, we'll take you through a visual tour, in chronological order, of every major PC-based (read: not Mac) web browser that ever was, starting with the very first one: WorldWideWeb. We'll tell you what made each one unique and, when applicable, what it contributed to modern browser development.
Sit back, buckle up, and hit the jump to get started!