Saturday, May 24, 2014

 

Happy Birthday, www.ibm.com!

When the World Wide Web was created 25 years ago few people probably realized how much change this would bring, not only to the academic community where this started but to the world at large.

Twenty years ago, IBM published the first homepage on www.ibm.com. The initial site on May 24, 1994 had only a few pages of content and an audio greeting by then-CEO and Chairman Lou Gerstner. (That was the time when most homepages greeted visitors with “Welcome to the Internet”.) Among the things Gerstner said, in retrospective the most important statement was “We are committed to the Internet, and we are excited about providing information to the Internet community”.

Back then I was happily coding System/370 mainframe applications and just had my first encounter with the now defunct Trojan Room Coffee Machine at the University of Cambridge. SNA and Token Ring were our preferred network technologies, and access to the Internet required special permission and signing an NSFnet Acceptable Use Policy document outlining the rules for commercial activities on international networks. Soon much of our business would become e-business.

Only a few years later was I invited to join the www.ibm.com team, a very fine, special team. At a time when business was mainly local, we were already globally integrated, collaborating electronically through an internal IRC network (Alister, remember our daily "gma, hay?" routine) and eventually the predecessor of IBM Sametime.

Last week the creators of the first homepage and some who worked in Corporate Internet Programs in the early days came together in New York City for an unofficial “motherserver meeting” to celebrate the anniversary. I missed the party, but the pictures brought back memories of the good times (and yes, occasionally bad times) we had running the IBM Website.

Happy Birthday, www.ibm.com!

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