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Everything Changes--Or Does It?

November 5, 2014

We were recently reminded just how much the world of the Web has changed over the last 25 years or so. We’ll come back to the event that triggered all this in a few minutes,  but first …

Do you remember your first encounter with email? Jon’s first experience was in the early 1980s when he was tasked with writing an email system for a major Canadian retail chain. Sadly they had chosen the wrong implementation vehicle and the whole thing ended in failure, but it is interesting to note that he was trying to write something that he had no personal experience with at the time!

Subsequently, in the late ’80s, we both used IBM’s internal email system PROFS, which ran on the mainframe. For a time it only served internal email with a few connected Business Partners, contractors, etc., also having accounts. Gradually it opened up to the rest of the world but was still restricted to mainframe terminals. People in the labs had hooked up a few PC based systems to the main systems, but it was not until IBM purchased Lotus and rolled out Notes as the email system for the company that PC-based email became a reality for us.

It all seems light years ago now and these days we all take email for granted. We even read and write it on our mobile devices.

So just what caused all this reminiscing? Well take a look at
“Here’s what … would have looked like in the 1980s” and you’ll understand. These brilliant videos attempt to give an indication of what sites like Google, Twitter and others would have looked like had they been invented back in the 1980s. Complete with the modem noises that invariably accompanied Web usage back in those days, these videos are an absolute hoot. In particular the Instagram one (which borrows from the old AOL method of attracting customers) is really funny.

So why the “Or Does It?” part of the headline for this post? Well, while grinning and laughing at these videos, we suddenly woke up to how scarily familiar many of the screens were. They look like the 5250 screens that we see every day in IBM i shops. The only thing missing is the screech of the modem! And that’s sad and a little frightening.

P.S. If you want to see what some of the early websites for Amazon Apple, and others looked like back in the late 1990s
take a look at this page

. It would be nice if a few more IBM i applications had even advanced that far!


Posted November 5, 2014| Permalink

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