Russell posted a recording of Hyperland a few days ago. It’s an amazing documentary from the early 1990s that foretells the advent of the Web.
As I was re-watching this wonderful piece of web history, I was reminded of a significant upcoming ‘birthday’: the anniversary of the first internet banner ad:
The banner, for telco AT&T, appeared on the HotWired site on October 24th, 1994.
15 years ago.
From some perspectives, that feels like yesterday.
But considering how much things have changed, it also feels like a lifetime ago.
Back in 1994, my prized possession was a Walkman cassette player. I had to decide which cassette I’d take with me when I left the house. My music collection was vast, and one whole wall of my bedroom was covered in shelves full of CDs, cassettes, and vinyl.
If you got lost, you had to ask someone for directions. They had whole sections on how to do that in foreign language classes at school.
And because a telephone was something that was wired into the wall in your house, you had no way of letting people know you were lost and were going to be late. Friends stood around, with nothing to do, waiting for hours for their mates to arrive.
Social groups stayed in touch by letter. We had penpals.
Photography was cumbersome. Most people sent their camera films off to be developed (and Kodak adverts were everywhere). You had to stick all your developed photos into an album and cart it round to your granny’s house.
If you needed to research something, you had to go to the library to look in the encyclopaedia. Those nice people at Britannica used to come knocking at the door, trying to sell 30-volume editions that would fill a room in your house.
But today, my iPhone brings all of that – and much more – to my pocket.
I honestly can’t imagine what things will look like 15 years from now.
But looking back at how far we’ve come in the past decade-and-a-half, I’m excited.
And I’ll be raising a glass in honour of that first HotWired banner next Saturday.