Tag Archives: bits and bytes

Tripping Over the “Bits and Bytes” of Internet History

And now it’s time for another trip back into digital history.  This time we’ll look at one of the online newsletters from the early days of the Internet and some of the “news of the era.”

I ran across a old printout of “Bits and Bites Online” (Volume 1 No. 14) dated November 4, 1993.  Folks, that was 18 years ago. (Please don’t ask why I still had it.  We’ll get to a discussion on that sometime later.)   Here are a few tidbits in that edition that caught my eye. (Now remember, this was 18 years ago.)

  • The price of workstations – DEC announced a new “top-of-the-line workstation” for $36,000 (yes, that’s thousands). DEC was touting this as a bargain compared to the $70,000 workstation being offered by IBM.
  • A small, but not-so-fast, printer – Office space at a premium? Check the new Panasonic KXP-4400 laser printer with only a 15″ X 15″ footprint.  Oh, and best of all? It prints at a blazing 4 pages per minute. [Just to provide context on the PPM metric:  A Wikipedia article on printers notes that “printers are generally slow devices (30 pages per minute is considered fast.”]
  • Doing Windows – The alpha version of Windows 4.0 “is making the rounds.” InfoWorld (10/25/93) took a look and reported that “the product still needs some work,” but that it will have “far more functionality and sophistication than Windows 3.1 when it ships in the latter half of 1994.”  [Well, 1994 was optimistic.  Sources here, here, and here indicate that “4.0” was released in Summer 1996.]
  • MTV Gets Plugged In (Kinda) – “MTV is officially on the net.” Well, “VJ Adam Curry is running an ftp and gopher site” with materials like “charts, audio, schedules, video, etc.”  And because the folks at MTV “are not ready to commit financially to the project,” Mr. Curry has to pay for the connection himself.  [I couldn’t find the original gopher site on the Wayback Machine, but here’s an article from Wired magazine about about Curry’s Internet forays.]
  • IMD…huh? – Oh, golly, wow! The [mail] server at the IBM PC Users Group in the UK (ibmpcug.co.uk) “accesses a movie database to return information about movies, actors, directors, etc.” The newsletter author asks: “Anybody else know any other cool ftpmail services?”  [The domain “ibmpcug.co.uk” is now for sale.  I guess after IMDB, there was no point….]
  • Access. Yeah, right! – The newsletter notes that “B&B is available for downloading on America Online in their telecom files area, and in Compuserve’s telecom forum library.”  [Not sure if any of my Gentle Readers retain access to either of these services. If not, the B&B author has archived all issues (except 1) on his website. They can all be found here.]

Hope you enjoyed this brief look at life “before the Web.” Not sure where I’ll look next.  Any ideas?