Thursday, January 16, 2014

20 years of web

Unfortunately the exact date is now lost, never mind any physical or virtual remains, but I started writing my first web page in early 1994. I can't remember much about my first involvement with HTML except that it was purely text based. My computer at the time was a 386sx-33 powered PC and I connected to the internet via dial up at a roasting 2400 baud. I used Lynx to look at my first web pages and hence my first home page.

Little did I know at the time that HTML and the web would be my career and shape my life in such a fundamental way over the next couple of decades.

The first graphical web pages I looked at where probably in OS/2's web browser (my parents bought me a RAM upgrade for my PC and OS/2 Warp as a graduation present - a RAM upgrade up to 8MB that is, but it was fine!) My first job in November 1995 was as a web developer, I got this job with the brief to built web sites that could sell stuff despite the fact I had not seen an actual web page on the web, apart from text based pages in Lynx and the odd locally hosted experiment, before. However by late December I had built the prototype of what would become of the UK's first ecommerce websites and it was demonstrated to an assembled audience of UK computer industry chiefs in a swanky London hotel. Not bad going considering I hasn't even heard of Perl and CGI programming before I got the job. I had to learn while building the site of course, budgets were tight and the development (and indeed the simulation) ran on a web server running on my work PC (OS/2 again, natch). I even had to go into Waterstones one lunch time to look up how to do something in Perl as online resources were pretty basic back then.

Crazy days, everything was so new and I had to make most stuff up as I went along. I've never been a good programmer but I am good at solving problems. Nowadays I am an e-Learning developer (new job, only my third though) and it's all Flash based but we'll be soon switching to a new system which is HTML5 based and the circle keeps on turning...

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