This thing called the World Wide Web…
On April 30, 1993, something called the World Wide Web launched into the public domain.
The web made it simple for anyone to navigate the internet. All users had to do was launch a new program called a “browser,” type in a URL and hit return.NPR
I was bored out of my mind when I came across Ed So’s HTTPD web server in the IBM forums. The forums were green screen, wonderful places to explore for all sorts of interesting information and for some reason this particular server code caught my eye. I read the summary about it and remembered we had this RISC 6000 sitting in the corner of a colleague’s office not being used. It’d be perfect for trying out this code. At the time I was a CSR (customer service rep) and truly had nothing better to do at that particularly point in time. Little did I know how much that decision would change the course of my career and my life.
I ended up getting that server software running on the R6K and made an internal website for our CSR organization. Back then we had an IBM browser called WebExplorer (also to be found for download via the forums), and there was another called Cello, and a third called Mosaic. If I remember right I used Mosaic on the R6K and WebExplorer on my PC.
I ended up causing quite a sensation with my 2nd line manager, Helene Yagoda. She was amazed and immediately saw how the technology could be used to help all the customers we supported in Southbury, CT. I gave so many demos… and it was funny because pages took forever to load so I’d preload them, of course, so that they’d open instantly… and everyone LOVED IT. And they all wanted web pages for their customers; organizations like IBM Travel, Facilities, Intellectual Property, and on and on. I made them for everyone. HTML was a very quick and easy thing to learn for someone like me who was a word processing nerd. These newly minted sites sat on machines under people’s desks in their offices. They were all intranet sites.
None of us really knew how to get outside IBM and out into the world of the web then one day I was sitting in an All Hands Meeting and someone was doing a demo and lo and behold they flashed a page that had the IP address of a PROXY server! EUREKA!!!
It was the best of times technology wise, for me. Although, I have to admit I had some sad feelings too because I knew we were going to ultra-commercialize the WWW and there was a rebellious part of me that wanted it to always be free and all that hippie shit. I got over it.
I ended up being recruited to join a team that landed the biggest commercial web development project IBM had received to date. A little company in Tennessee that had the notion to create a toolset so every K-12 school in the USA could have a dynamically built, somewhat custom website. Our fearless leaders, Jim Nagel and Ed Santulli were fabulous. My amazing architect, Ron Soltis, taught me how to be a Project Manager. And the project was a major success.
And, this always cracks me up, you remember I mentioned all those intranet websites that were under people’s desks? Well, many, many years later I ended up managing an internal, global, project to consolidate all the un-secured, intranet servers that had become critical to support the business – 1000s of them! They needed to get out of offices and into well controlled server farms and have common content, single sign-on and all the rest of it. ha!!! So it had all come back to haunt me. The Common Portal Engine project was huge but ultimately successful.
So happy anniversary, WWW!!! You’ve truly been technology that changed the world and I have had and continue to have great fun with you.