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History of Computers & Internet

Babbage Internet 1950s 1800s Antikythera Mechanism computing analog computing Alan Turing 1990s computers

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#101
Jakob

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Fascinating...internetz from before the web, when only a few million people (if that) were online.


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#102
Yuli Ban

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Usenet: Grunge Edition

1989

http://groups.google...ff8?hl=en&pli=1

 

1991

http://groups.google...dd9f89307?hl=en

 

1994

https://groups.googl...sic/xXWy1mAZqTQ


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#103
LWFlouisa

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Was this a pre web page graphics age? I only scantly remember AOL.


Cerebrum Cerebellum -- Speculative Non-Fiction -- Writing

Luna Network -- Nodal Sneaker Network -- Programming

Published Works: https://www.wattpad.com/432077022-tevun-krus-44-sword-planet-the-intergalactic-heads


#104
Yuli Ban

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Find the article IDs and post them into this so you can view these articles as they were meant to be viewed.

http://article.olduse.net/

 

Which is to say, digital green with a black background on a simulation of an LCD screen.

 

Of course, it only works up to July 1987 since Olduse.net is meant to be a simulation of Usenet as it developed. So if you find any old Usenet articles, post them in this thread so we can see them!


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#105
funkervogt

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The "Mother of all Demos" happened 50 years ago

On a crisp, overcast, and breezy Monday afternoon in San Francisco on December 9, 1968, before an SRO audience of more than 2,000 slack-jawed computer engineers, a soft-spoken engineer named Douglas Engelbart held the first public demonstration of word processing, point-and-clicking, dragging-and-dropping, hypermedia and hyperlinking, cross-file editing, idea/outline processing, collaborative groupware, text messaging, onscreen real-time video teleconferencing, and a weird little device dubbed a "mouse" — the essentials of a graphical user interface (GUI) 15 years before the first personal computers went on sale.

 
https://mashable.com...s/#q0qk._dxuqqs
 
David Fincher's AT&T commercials from the early 1990s were also spot-on:
 
https://nofilmschool...-Predict-Future
 
Can anyone think of any "demos" or visionary presentations from the past 10 years that are likely to predict the next 20-50 years of technology?


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#106
Yuli Ban

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b65ac852ad33de5f3cbdfff010aced3a-1200-80

 

This computer is 35 years old. 

 

It didn't feel right typing that out. I wanted to say "this computer is 25 years old." 2017 2019 - 1984 = 25, right? 

Right?

 

No???

 

What happened?! Where'd the time go??


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#107
Yuli Ban

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Wait, 2017??


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#108
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The Kaypro II, also from the 1980s.

_KAYPRO.JPG


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#109
Yuli Ban

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d57fc44c9c812ee27c9fd80cc895778c.jpg

Note, I'm fairly sure this was made in 2012.


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#110
Yuli Ban

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Let's talk about old-school video games!
 
No, no, put away your Atari 2600 and NES. We're going even older. No, keep the Magnavox Odyssey. 
 
I'm talking about video games from the 1940s and '50s!
 
To start, let's talk about the Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device. This is the very first game that could even be described as a "video game" in any way, shape, or form. In essence, it's more like a proto-video game— a game played purely in a realm beyond the physical world. Date of creation: 1947. Yes, it was created 70 years ago. You can certainly tell. It looks exactly like what you'd expect from a video game made in the 1940s. It's so old that it's connected to an oscilloscope.
 
Here's one that sounds so Space Age: Bertie the Brain. A tic-tac-toe machine from 1950.
 
Some footage of Bertie.

O.X.O.
No, that's not me acting like a scene girl. That's the name of another tic-tac-toe simulator from 1952. It's actually the first digital video game ever, one which also possesses artificial intelligence. And remember, artificial intelligence as a term and field wasn't even created until 1955, so these two games essentially act as both proto-video games and proto-AI.
 
A bit before O.X.O., there was Nimrod (no doubt considered an awesome name before Bugs Bunny turned it into another word for 'idiot'). This one was in 1951 and involves a game of Nim... which I've never heard of before now, so TIL.
 
Finally, there's the most famous of the lot.
Tennis For Two, from 1958.

This is basically Pong's daddy. Half-literally at that, since it predates Pong by 14 years. Unlike the previous games, it's also the first game to be developed as an actual game rather than be a byproduct of early computer research. When Tennis For Two was being designed, it was designed as a game in mind. Thus, while it's not the first computer game, it is the first true video game. 
 
So fuck you, Tennis For Two. You ruined my life.
/s
 
We complain about the latest Assassin's Creed and FIFA games or how Ubisoft and EA are existential failures of being, and yet 60+ years ago the idea that you could manually control a little bit of light on a screen blew people's minds.


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#111
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47cb324fabd7dfeb8217bc84a2f2b002.jpg


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#112
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One of the most fascinating discoveries of the past century: the Antikythera Mechanism, which is a Greco-Persian analog computer dating back to around 200 BCE! (Evidence points to it being Greek, but it may be Persian or even Carthaginian)
 
feb15_j04_antikythera.jpg
Antikythera_model_front_panel_Mogi_Vicen
didyouknow3.jpg
 
 

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient Greek analogue computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendar and astrological purposes decades in advance. It could also be used to track the four-year cycle of athletic games which was similar to an Olympiad, the cycle of the ancient Olympic Games.
 
The artefact was retrieved from the sea in 1901, and identified on 17 May 1902 as containing a gear wheel by archaeologist Valerios Stais, among wreckage retrieved from a wreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. The instrument is believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists and has been variously dated to about 87 BC, or between 150 and 100 BC, or to 205 BC, or to within a generation before the shipwreck, which has been dated to approximately 70-60 BC.
 
The device, housed in the remains of a 34 cm × 18 cm × 9 cm (13.4 in × 7.1 in × 3.5 in) wooden box, was found as one lump, later separated into three main fragments which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation works. Four of these fragments contain gears, while inscriptions are found on many others. The largest gear is approximately 14 centimetres (5.5 in) in diameter and originally had 223 teeth.
 
It is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. A team led by Mike Edmunds and Tony Freeth at Cardiff University used modern computer x-ray tomography and high resolution surface scanning to image inside fragments of the crust-encased mechanism and read the faintest inscriptions that once covered the outer casing of the machine.
 
Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests that it had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the Moon and the Sun through the zodiac, to predict eclipses and even to model the irregular orbit of the Moon, where the Moon's velocity is higher in its perigee than in its apogee. This motion was studied in the 2nd century BC by astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes, and it is speculated that he may have been consulted in the machine's construction.
 
The knowledge of this technology was lost at some point in antiquity, and technological works approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in Europe in the fourteenth century. All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with a number of artistic reconstructions/replicas of how the mechanism may have looked and worked.


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#113
Yuli Ban

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Survey: More homes have computers

October 12, 1996
Web posted at: 6:45 p.m. EDT
 
The number of computer owners in the United States has more than tripled since 1982, with nearly half the country now owning a PC. But a third of the public never uses computers and has no plans to purchase one within the next five years, according to a recent survey.
 
 
The study found that 42 percent of Americans own a PC, and another 28 percent said they would most likely buy one within five years. Just over half of all households with children under 18 have computers. In 1982, only 13 percent of Americans owned one.
 
But while more and more Americans are putting computers in their homes, 31 percent of those polled said they were unlikely to purchase a PC within the next five years and 34 percent said they never even use one.

 
The survey of 750 adults was conducted September 19-22 by Yankelovich Partners Inc. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percent. Results based on subgroups have a larger margin of error.
 
Among computer users, eight out of 10 said they use their electronic think-boxes for word processing, and seven out of 10 play games on their PCs. More than half of those polled use their PC to do schoolwork or office work at home, and nearly 50 percent use their computers daily.
 
But only 34 percent use their computers to get on the Internet, with men surfing the Net nearly twice as much as women. A striking difference among Net surfers also exists between baby boomers and generation Xers. A majority of computer owners under the age of 30 are wired, while only 28 percent of computer owners ages 30 to 49 use the Internet.
Speaking of the Net, more than half of those polled said a married person who trades sexually oriented messages over the Internet is committing adultery. Sixty-one percent of women polled said it's the same as being unfaithful to a spouse; 49 percent of men agreed.
 
Meanwhile, a majority of people who don't own a computer said they simply don't want one, while another third said computers cost too much.
 
But those who own a computer swear by them. Thirty percent said their lives are much better because of their PCs, and another 57 percent said their lives are somewhat better.


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#114
Yuli Ban

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1994-1996 VR Coverage By PC Gamer Mag
 
In retrospect, it's easy to see why VR failed two decades ago. Latency issues were unreal, screen resolution was nightmarishly poor, and the best 3D graphics could do was throwing a few hundred polygons at you. VR is just too much of a hardware issue at the end of it. Trying to pull off successful VR outside of the arcades in the '90s is the equivalent of trying to create a television show outside of the cinema in the Old '10s.
 
Energy-Dragon

The screenshots are not bad, but those old HMD resolutions, wow... 80x225 pixels for "iGlasses", 300x200 for "Cybermaxx 2.0", 260x230 for "VFX1". No wonder that people did not like it much. Although their refresh rate was not bad, 60Hz - 250Hz is pretty cool. At least they tried to do it well, but the technology was not advanced enough that time, and most consumer computers simply could not have handle anything higher in the 90's.
And now we will have soon 2160x1200 (1080x1200 per eye) both for Oculus CV1 and HTC Vive @ 90Hz. I am sure that it will work out this time; and we will see better VR HMDs every year. ☺

 
 
manfred_manley

Haha yeah, imagine using a 80x225 display. There's more pixels in an icon on your phone.

 


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#115
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Map of the entire Internet — December 1969
O9oOgHs.jpg
 
On Oct 29, 1969, UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) made the first host-to-host connection on ARPANET, which grew into the Internet that we all know and love today. The first message is “LO,” which was an attempt by student Charles Kline to “LOGIN” to the SRI computer. However, the message was unable to be completed because the SRI system crashed. UCLA’s Network Measurement Center, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah had nodes on ARPANET. View the evolution of the early Internet here: http://som.csudh.edu...story/arpamaps/

 

That's right: ARPANET is 50 years old!


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#116
Yuli Ban

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The Soviet internet could have been a neat alternative.

How the Soviets invented the internet and why it didn't work

On the morning of 1 October 1970, the computer scientist Viktor Glushkov walked into the Kremlin to meet with the Politburo. He was an alert man with piercing eyes rimmed in black glasses, with the kind of mind that, given one problem, would derive a method for solving all similar problems. And at that moment the Soviet Union had a serious problem. A year earlier, the United States launched ARPANET, the first packet-switching distributed computer network that would in time seed the internet as we know it. The distributed network was originally designed to nudge the US ahead of the Soviets, allowing scientists’ and government leaders’ computers to communicate even in the event of a nuclear attack. It was the height of the tech race, and the Soviets needed to respond.
Glushkov’s idea was to inaugurate an era of electronic socialism. He named the colossally ambitious project the All-State Automated System. It sought to streamline and technologically upgrade the entire planned economy. This system would still make economic decisions by state plans, not market prices, but sped up by computer modelling to predict equilibria before they happen. Glushkov wanted smarter and faster decision-making, and maybe even electronic currency. All he needed was the Politburo’s purse.
But when Glushkov entered the cavernous room that morning, he noticed two empty chairs at the long table: his two strongest allies were missing. Instead, he faced down a table of ambitious, steely-eyed ministers – many of whom wanted the Politburo’s purse and support for themselves.
Between 1959 and 1989, leading Soviet men of science and state repeatedly ventured to construct a national computer network for broadly prosocial purposes. With the deep wounds of the Second World War far from healed, the Soviet Union continued to specialise in massive modernisation projects that had transformed a dispersed tsarist nation of illiterate peasants into a global nuclear power in the course of a couple of generations.
After the Soviet Union’s leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s personality cult in 1956, a sense of possibility swept the country. Onto this scene entered a host of socialist projects to wire the national economy with networks, among them the first proposal anywhere in the world to create a national computer network for civilians. The idea was the brainchild of the military researcher Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov.
A young man with a small build and a keen mind for mathematics, Kitov had risen through the ranks of the Red Army in the Second World War. Then, in 1952, he encountered Norbert Wiener’s masterwork Cybernetics (1948) in a secret military library, the book’s title a neologism coined from the Greek for steersman and a postwar science of self-governing information systems. With the support of two senior scientists, Kitov translated cybernetics into a robust Russian-language approach to developing self-governing control and communication systems with computers. The supple systems vocabulary of cybernetics was intended to equip the Soviet state with a hi-tech toolkit for rational Marxist governance, an antidote to the violence and cult of personality characterising Stalin’s strongman state. Indeed, perhaps cybernetics could even help ensure that there would never again be another strongman dictator, or so went the technocratic dream. 
In 1959, as the director of a secret military computer research centre, Kitov turned his attention to devoting ‘unlimited quantities of reliable calculating processing power’ to better planning the national economy, which was the most persistent information-coordination problem besetting the Soviet socialist project. (It was discovered in 1962, for example, that a handmade calculation error in the 1959 census goofed the population prediction by 4 million people.) Kitov wrote his thoughts down in the ‘Red Book letter’, which he sent to Khrushchev. He proposed allowing ‘civilian organisations’ to use functioning military computer ‘complexes’ for economic planning in the nighttime hours, when most military men were sleeping. Here, he thought, economic planners could harness the military’s computational surplus to adjust for census problems in real-time, tweaking the economic plan nightly if needed. He named his military-civilian national computer network the Economic Automated Management System.
As it happened, Kitov’s military supervisors intercepted the Red Book letter before it reached Khrushchev. They were incensed by his proposal that the Red Army share resources with civilian economic planners – resources that Kitov also dared to describe as falling behind the times. A secret military tribunal was arranged to review his transgressions, for which Kitov was promptly stripped of his Communist Party membership for a year and dismissed from the military permanently. So ended the first national public computer network ever proposed.
The idea, however, survived. In the early 1960s, another scientist took up Kitov’s proposal, a man whom Kitov would grow close enough to that, decades later, their children would marry: Viktor Mikhailovich Glushkov.

 
 
Such optimism!

These cyberneticists imagined a kind of smart neural network, a nervous system for the Soviet economy. This choice cybernetic analogy between computer network and brain bore its imprint on other computing theory innovations in Kiev. For example, instead of the so-called von Neumann bottleneck (which limits the amount of transferable data in a computer), Glushkov’s teams proposed ‘macro-piping processing’ modelled after the simultaneous firings of many synapses in the human brain. In addition to countless mainframe computer projects, other theoretical schemes included automata theory, the paperless office, and natural language programming that would let humans communicate with computers semantically, not just syntactically as programmers do today. Most ambitiously, Glushkov and his students theorised ‘information immortality’, a concept we might call ‘mind uploading’ with Isaac Asimov or Arthur C Clarke in hand. On his deathbed decades later, Glushkov comforted his grieving wife with a resonant reflection: ‘Be at ease,’ he soothed her. ‘One day the light from our Earth will pass by constellations, and on each constellation we will appear young again. Thus we will be together forever in the eternities!’
 
After their workday, the cyberneticists indulged in a comedy club full of frivolity and merry pranksterism that bordered on the outright defiant. No more than a place to vent off steam, their after-hours work club also saw itself as a virtual country independent of Moscow’s rule. They christened their group ‘Cybertonia’ at a New Year’s party in 1960, and organised regular social events such as holiday dances, symposia and conferences in Kiev and Lviv, even publishing tongue-in-cheek papers such as ‘On Wanting to Remain Invisible – At Least to the Authorities’. Instead of event invitations, the group issued pun-filled faux passports, wedding certificates, newsletters, punchcard currency and even a Cybertonia constitution. In a parody of Soviet (council) governance structure, Cybertonia was governed by a council of robots, and at the head of that council sat their mascot and supreme leader, a saxophone-playing robot – a nod to the US cultural import of jazz...

 
So how it did go so wrong?
Simply enough:

There is an irony to this. The first global computer networks took root in the US thanks to well-regulated state funding and collaborative research environments, while the contemporary (and notably independent) national network efforts in the USSR floundered due to unregulated competition and institutional infighting among Soviet administrators. The first global computer network emerged thanks to capitalists behaving like cooperative socialists, not socialists behaving like competitive capitalists.


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#117
Yuli Ban

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The French also had a sort of "proto-Internet" back in the 1970s called "Minitel".

It allowed for buying plane tickets, shopping, 24-hr news, message boards & adult chat services. It was used to coordinate a national strike in 1986. Some believe it hindered the internet's adoption in France.

This is because it lasted until 2012.

 

Minitel used dumb terminals consisting of a text-based screenkeyboard and modem. Most terminals could display crude black-and-white graphics using a set of predefined graphical characters; color units were available for a fee but were not popular. Aftermarket printers were available.

 

It's like the Paranthropus or Neanderthal of the internet; a neat alternative branch of evolutionary development that simply died out.

 

DuFeDsF.jpg

1985 TELIC-1 Alcatel Minitel terminal with non-AZERTY keyboard


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#118
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Today Show in 1994: "What is Internet anyway?"

 

Flashback to 1995 to the early Internet


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#119
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Negroponte: Internet is way to world peace

November 25, 1997
 
Tired of all the hype about the Internet? Well, think again -- one respected Internet guru says it will bring world peace.
 
Nicholas Negroponte, head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory, told an information technology conference in Brussels on Tuesday that the potential of the global computer network has actually been vastly underrated.
 
"I have never seen people miss the scale of what's going on as badly as they are doing it now," he said, predicting that the Internet would do no less than bring world peace by breaking down national borders.
 
Twenty years from now, he said, children who are used to finding out about other countries through the click of a mouse "are not going to know what nationalism is."
 
Negroponte faulted European countries outside of Scandinavia, including France and Germany, for not climbing on the Internet bandwagon, saying they were on par with the Third World.
 
"It's almost as if somebody took a big, thick, black magic marker and drew a line separating Scandinavia from the rest of Europe," he told the conference, sponsored by the European Commission.
 
He specifically criticized German phone giant Deutsche Telekom for raising local phone rates and thus deterring children from tapping into the Internet.
 
"Access by kids to the Internet should be like kids breathing clean air," he said.

So innocent and naive.


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#120
Yuli Ban

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Cellular Obsessions

1 January, 1997

With the lowest rates on the planet, Israel is the world's cellular petri dish.

Strolling through a mall in the heart of fashionable Tel Aviv, where a Hamas terrorist recently blew himself up next to an ATM, and where Israeli youngsters bungee-jump in air-conditioned comfort - I occasioned upon a real Israeli novelty: a spanking clean men's room.

Inside, I saw a man urinating into a shiny porcelain receptacle, his fingers occupied with matters at hand. But crooked between his shoulder and ear was a cellular telephone. The fellow was taking a whiz while instructing Shula, his secretary, which bills to pay now and which to leave for later. Not wishing to interrupt, I headed for a stall. Soon someone entered the one next to mine and began talking. I assumed he must be speaking to me and wondered at this latest intrusion of personal space, which seemed gauche even by local standards. I quickly understood, however, that he was making an appointment with his dentist.

Suddenly, it dawned on me why Israeli newspapers kept writing about a rabbinical ruling forbidding Jews to converse with others while engaged in elimination. This prohibition was well known among Orthodox Jews: the faithful may not answer anyone - even a family member - who calls while they are thus engaged. Apparently, the rabbis felt a renewed need to educate consumers not only in the rudiments of Jewish law, but also in the appropriate use of cell phones. Israelis, having succumbed to cellular mania, simply have no concept of downtime anymore. The three-hour afternoon siestas and leisurely work habits of yesteryear have been largely relegated to mythic memory. So, it turns out, has the leisurely dump.

I soon found myself ceding the rabbis their point. A brief jaunt almost anyplace in Israel these days reveals that the Jewish state is chock-full of cell phones. People carry them everywhere: to the beach, the desert, the corner store, even to pray at the Wailing Wall. Even kids are wired with low-end cell phones, called Mangos, that can receive, but not send, most calls.

The Great Flood began in December 1994, when an Israeli cellular start-up called Cellcom (a consortium made up of BellSouth International, the Israel Development Bank, and the Safra banking group) announced the lowest airtime rates anywhere on the planet: two-and-a-half cents for a full minute of blab any time of the day.

Thanks largely to digitalization, Israeli cell phones instantaneously became cheaper - for all but a few kinds of calls - than ordinary land lines, with 300 minutes selling for less than US$8, not the $136 they'd cost in the US. In response, Israelis began using their cellular phones in their own living rooms and beds, not to mention their cars, bunkers, and bathrooms.

In the two years since Cellcom's launch, the cellular phone, or "pelephone," as it is referred to generically, has replaced the automatic rifle as the device whose ubiquity now most astonishes Western visitors. From a base of perhaps 70,000 users only two years ago, 900,000 Israelis (out of a total population of 5.7 million) now subscribe to cellular telephone services, according to Cellcom CEO Ya'akov Peri. They sign up with either Cellcom or its analog-based arch rival, Pele-Phone Communications, a subsidiary of Bezeq and Motorola Israel Ltd. that caters to more than 300,000 high-end business users, most of whom remain convinced that digital cellular service is entirely substandard.

In an impossibly short time, tiny Israel has emerged as a cellular superpower. Oren Most, Cellcom's VP for marketing and sales, says Israel easily beats out telecommunications "backwaters" such as Great Britain, France, and Germany in the number of cell phones in use per capita and surpasses virtually every other country in the world in the speed of cell phone penetration. The overall growth rate for cellular telephone use in Israel is now gauged at 250 percent per annum.

This wireless boom has occurred, not incidentally, in tandem with a dramatic increase in Israeli computer ownership and connectivity. A survey conducted by the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv in October 1996 found that 44 percent of Israel's 1.45 million households now own a personal computer, rendering the nation one of the most computerized societies anywhere. The Jewish sector in Israel boasts 47 percent PC penetration, while the Arab sector, with 24 percent, surpasses some European countries.

More than 100,000 Israeli families, meanwhile, have already found their way onto the Net, reports the Ma'ariv survey. Part of the Israelis' attraction to the Net may be that after half a century of embattled existence in a politically ostracized sliver of a country, they have suddenly found lebensraum in a wide-open, borderless, largely cosmopolitan venue.

One reason for Israel's cellular kwisatz haderach (to use Frank Herbert's Hebraization of the term quantum leap in Dune) is that Israel already was one of the world's most wired countries - if not in the technical sense, then in the human sense. True, in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel boasted only one television station broadcasting a few hours a day, a few tired radio stations, and a wait for a standard house phone that averaged three years or more. But in that same Israel, two or three - not six - degrees of separation existed between most people, and everyone who mattered or knew someone who did was tied, one way or another, into a surprisingly accurate and comprehensive information nexus.

Into that fertile soil, former Communications Minister Shulamit Aloni in 1991 planted the idea of putting a cellular phone into the back pocket of every Israeli. To encourage cheap access to cellular airtime, the Israeli government eschewed the steep licensing fees generally required of newcomers to national markets, offering free radio spectrum to the company that came up with the winning bid. The victor was not required to pony up money but to provide as many users with the greatest (read: cheapest) telecommunications benefit in the shortest possible time.

"The idea," says David Gordon, computer and communications editor of Ma'ariv,"was to help the consumer. If you look at other countries, you find that the license fees flow directly into the government's coffers. In Israel, the government took an unusually enlightened approach."

To sustain its low rates, Cellcom required a mass market - no mean feat in a cramped, spectrum-poor country where the military traditionally has hogged the airwaves. To create that market, it adopted a highly efficient digital cellular standard, time-division multiple access (TDMA), a technology adopted by most digital providers in the US. However, Europe, the Arab world, and the Palestinian Authority use groupe speciale mobile (GSM), a standard so similar to TDMA that it's not worth worrying about the differences - with one exception. Using either one, you can't place or receive calls across big urban areas or countries that use the other standard.

TDMA is reminiscent of the time-sharing methods used by minicomputers and mainframes to permit access to large numbers of users. Cellcom uses time-division multiplexing, designed to squeeze close to four times the capacity out of a single frequency. Later upgrades are expected to offer six to eight times the capacity. Another standard, code-division multiple access (CDMA), offers up to 20 times the capacity and is meant to be more secure from eavesdropping. Several US providers are considering adopting it, but the technology has not yet been proven with real users out in the field.

Quite apart from the technical difficulties inherent in squeezing a large volume of chatter into a thin wedge of spectrum, Cellcom faced a general reluctance by Israeli subscribers to pay for unsolicited calls and faxes. To combat this fear of freeloading, it opted for an innovative billing scheme called CPP, "calling party pays." In short, this shifts the cost from the receiver of the call to the person calling - a complete paradigm shift from the system used throughout the US.

This system, coupled with cheap user rates, may have put Israel over the top in wireless expansionism. With costly nuisance calls eliminated, subscribers could hand out their numbers freely. Many have since placed their cellular numbers on business cards. Others have posted them in newspaper ads. Some have dispensed with their home phones entirely.

In today's tech-happy Jewish state, the rapturous response to Cellcom's offer of dirt-cheap airtime in late 1994 should have been foreseen. But the breakneck speed with which Israelis jumped on board took nearly everyone, including Cellcom, by surprise.

Right from the start, Israelis began queuing up at Cellcom offices in droves. Their desperation was fueled by the fact that cell phones are, for most Israelis, tax deductible. Israelis are died-in-the-wool halturists - moonlighters. Virtually everyone, from the lowest schwarma hawker to the highest-ranking CEO, can justify a cell phone purchase to the country's otherwise draconian Maas Hachnassa, or Tax Authority. It was no accident, therefore, that Cellcom launched on December 27, a few days before the end of the tax year. Some prospective customers even took the unusual step of beating the tar out of queue jumpers to secure their place in line. This violence, it must be noted, grew out of an elemental Israeli compulsion to reach out and touch someone.

Israel now occupies second place in the world for the number of phone calls of all types - both cellular and regular - placed per resident, according to the International Communications Association. (First place goes to the US.) The typical Israeli places 1,100 calls a year, compared with 644 for a German, and 591 for an Italian. In the Middle East, where comparisons may be more appropriate, Jordanians place an average of 276 calls per citizen, and Syrians 85.

When it comes to sheer volume of cellular chatter, however, no one beats the Jewish state. Israelis log up to four times the airtime sucked up by Americans, who talk an average of 150 minutes a month. And they do so whether subscribing to Cellcom, with its rock-bottom rates, or Pele-Phone, whose fees more closely approximate those of American cellular providers.

Following the example set by the country's rabbinical authorities, Cellcom and Pele-Phone now prod customers via brochures and public service announcements to shut off their pelephones during concerts and movies, at restaurants, and especially while driving. Illicit use of cell phones without legally prescribed dashboard microphones or cell phone mounts may be responsible for a recent leap in the already record levels of roadside slaughter.

Nothing's sacred. At my son's bar mitzvah dinner, guests flipped open their pocket communicators with abandon, bantering with friends, family, and associates through five courses and coffee. In Israel, if you don't have anything in common with the people you are seated with, the evening is not necessarily lost. You can bring your own company to the table.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Babbage, Internet, 1950s, 1800s, Antikythera Mechanism, computing, analog computing, Alan Turing, 1990s, computers

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