The World Wide Web is 25 years old which got me thinking about my first impressions of the web, the Internet and computers.
First impressions of Computers
I have had an interest in computers for a long time. My early exposure to computers included my uncle‘s Apple IIe (photo), my friend‘s Tandy MC-10 and Apple Macintosh, and the green screen Amstrad word processing computer that my parents owned. I was always drawn to the machines like a moth to a light. Computers were intriguing to my young, fertile mind, because they presented a blank canvas waiting to be brushed from my palate.
At eleven years of age I was programming the classic snake game in BASIC. I was the only grade six student to type up and print out their assignments. My teachers were suitably impressed. Mrs Salt, my grade six teacher, used to always make a point of how messy my hand writing was and that if I did not get it right I would not be successful in my chosen career. Her prediction proved to be incorrect, thanks to the proliferation of computers and my decision to learn how to touch type in high school.
Through high school my silicon chip fascination continued with more software programming; this time to simulate 20,000 random spins of a roulette wheel to provide additional evidence to my mathematical proof that (a) roulette is an unfair game (on average you will lose $1 out of every $37 you bet) and (b) there is no best bet. I had so many arguments friends at university and work that believed that one type of roulette bet was better than another, that I dug out my year 12 assignment and republished it on my web site.
In year 12 I filled out my likes and dislikes into a career questionnaire. It said I should be a primary school teacher, photographer or civil engineer; I looked up the pay rates and chose the highest – engineering. RMIT‘s Business Administration and Civil Engineering was the course I enrolled in. Not surprisingly I enjoyed and excelled at every subject in which I could use a computer. Whether it was AutoCAD to design sophisticated civil engineering designs, word processing software with laser printed reports (when my university friends only managed dot matrix reports at best) or Pascal programming.
First impressions of the Internet
RMIT University was where I first encountered the Internet. In 1992 the Internet and World Wide Web were young. At first the Internet was exciting because I was able to access the university library catalogue from home at any time of the day, while my friends were limited by the physical library‘s opening hours and limited number of available electronic terminals.
Then I realised that I had access to information that was more than academic. At an odd hour one day in 1992, I traversed the internet using my green screen text-based browser to find out that Kieren Perkins had smashed the 1500m freestyle world record and won a gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.
I knew the result before everyone else; who had to wait for the delayed telecast. Finding this information was not easy though. I think I may have used “Archie“, the very first Internet search engine.
My 1996 description of the juvenile Internet:
The Internet is a global network of over three million computers worldwide. The Internet is growing faster than any other communications market, roughly doubling every year since 1989. As many as 30 million people use the Internet with thousands of new subscribers joining every day.
The complexity of the Internet is hidden from view giving the appearance of a seamless web of interconnected resources; you can be downloading music from Finland one moment and viewing images in Africa the next! One facet of the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW). The WWW is a software system that makes the Internet user-friendly and links documents across the Internet, through text, graphics and sound. The Web gives marketers global coverage for a relatively low cost.
According to Business Review Weekly, The key to understanding the Net and its importance is that this is a communications revolution, not an information revolution. Distributing masses of information is one aspect of the Net. On-line commerce in the future will be more about building relationships than selling … Businesses will be communicating with people, and they will be communicating with businesses and with each other (James O’Toole BRW, May 8, 1995).
First impressions of the World Wide Web
I created my first web site in 1994.
I coded the web site by hand in Hyper Text Mark-up Language or HTML for short. The web site was titled “Josh‘s Sanctum” as a play-on-words; since sanctum means a private place and the Internet was proving to be the exact opposite. The web site address was http://minyos.xx.rmit.edu.au/~s924603/ – which looks pretty long and antiquated now. At the time however I displayed it with pride in my electronic signature on emails and newsgroup postings.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org.EDU.AU (Joshua Rowe) Newsgroups: comp.infosystems.www.users Subject: JOSH'S SANCTUM is online... <---- <---- <---- <---- Date: 2 Feb 1995 01:52:34 GMT JOSH'S SANCTUM is online.... Let me know what you think of my new web page http://minyos.xx.rmit.edu.au/~s924603/ If you want me to add your link to my homepage just drop me a line at email@example.com -- |~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Joshua Rowe~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~| | Advertise firstname.lastname@example.org Perception is | | here http://minyos.xx.rmit.edu.au/~s924603/ Reality | |______________B.Eng(Civil)/B.Bus RMIT Melbourne, Australia_________________|
My first Internet start up
I started a web site development business “Sanctum Internet Consultants” in 1994. My fledgling business offered web page packages for small and large businesses. The sanctum.com.au web site advertised single text-based web sites or multi-page web sites with graphics and your own domain name.
Australia was an early adopter as far as the Internet went. There were more domain names registered under .au than any other country code top-level domain in 1991 – a grand total of 29. Some early .au domain name registration statistics suggest that my registration of “sanctum.com.au” was one of the first 2500 com.au domain names to be registered. This contrasts with over 2.7 million .au domain names registered in 2014.
There are over 2.4 billion people using the Internet globally which is only 34% penetration.
The Internet is becoming a core ingredient in everything we do; social media, wearable devices, Internet of things, etcetera. However, the opportunities for Internet service innovation and invention is boundless. The same goes for increased penetration of Internet access around the globe.
Thirsty for more?
Read my 2008 Masters thesis which includes an ethnographic narrative on the evolution of Internet industry and policy in Australia: http://domainusability.com/
We throw the word around all the time, but what does it really mean?
Google says it’s “someone who organises a business venture and assumes the risk for it“.
I relate to that definition. I even label myself an entrepreneur.
My earliest memory of my entrepreneurial behaviour was as an 11 year old when I had my first real job; a newspaper boy.
I would sell newspapers and magazines on Saturday mornings on the footpath of a busy suburban retail strip.
The newsagent owner provided me with a leather coin pouch with change in it. However, this was hopelessly inefficient with all the coins and notes mixed up together. Every time a customer purchased a product it would take time to find the correct change from the coin pouch.
My newspaper boy pay was made up of two components – base hourly rate plus a commission for unit sales of the newspapers/magazines.
Therefore, I proposed to the newsagent owner that a spring loaded coin sorter that strapped to my belt would increase my efficiency and I could sell more of his product. A financial gain for both of us.
He wasn’t interested in my 11 year old business case.
Instead, I purchased a coin sorter out of my own pocket.
The following Saturday all the other newspaper boys had purchased their own coin sorters.
An entrepreneur is someone who takes the risk with a business venture with the opportunity to reap a reward.
I took the risk on the cost of the coin sorter and was rewarded with an instant payback.
What was your first entrepreneurial experience?
The #SuperAwesomeMicroProject is a Life Size Lego Car Powered by Air. Watch it in action:
Anyone interested in investing $500-$1000 in a project which is awesome & a world first tweet me. Need about 20 participants… #startup
— Steve Sammartino (@sammartino) February 29, 2012
22 months later Steve and Raul have created a Life Size Lego Car Powered By Air, but that’s only half the story.
The other half of the story is how 40 patrons came together using the power of the Internet to take an idea from a Romanian whiz kid and make it into a reality.
I love the way Steve describes it:
The is why I love working on and with the Internet every day as a business person and end user.
The opportunities are limitless.
Whilst some businesses have been quick to develop new business models with the aid of technology, others have been slower to adapt their more traditional ways of doing business.
In episode 5 of the Beers, Blokes and Business podcast Sean Callanan, Steve Sammartino, Jim Stewart and myself share our collective experience on the various retail models which have developed in the digital economy.
We’d love your feedback.
Episode 4 of the Beers, Blokes and Business podcast is out.
I share how my experience of working at McDonalds, studying a Civil Engineering/Business Administration degree and then stumbling across this thing called the Internet in the early 1990s led me where I am working today. Not exactly a textbook “career path” – if there is ever such a thing.
We’d love your feedback.
We’re up to episode 3 of the Beers, Blokes and Business podcast already.
This week’s topic looks at the wide variety of ways to manage a project, whether you’re doing something solo, start-up, as a small business or at the big end of town.
We’d love your feedback.
That spare time you have when commuting, exercising and other down time activities is the perfect time where you can stimulate your brain through your ear buds.
Therefore, I have banded together with a few mates to “tape” our regular (normally private) conversations that we have over a beer with the aim of sharing our collective knowledge and experience with others.
Sean Callanan the SportsGeek is the instigator of the Beers, Blokes and Business podcast and has rounded up the following motley crew: Steve Sammartino, Jim Stewart, James Noble, Luke McCormack, Steve Vallas, Scott Kilmartin and myself.
We plan to publish a new episode every week.