How I am responsible for the modern internet

Long ago, I worked for Motorola in Urbana, Illinois. Another programmer there, Eric Bina, was the first person to get a color X Terminal. Being a hacker type, he did graphical things on it and would show them off to people.

One day, he dragged me into his office to show me I-don’t-know-what. I do distinctly remember adopting my curmudgeonly persona (even then!) and telling him, “Oh Eric, no one will ever want color on a computer.”

Shortly after that, Eric quit, citing the stupidity of (at least) some of the people at Motorola. I like to think it was my comment that tipped him over the edge, because Eric then went to the University of Illinois’ Center for Supercomputing Applications, where he wrote rather more of the code for Mosaic, the first graphical browser, than (I believe) did the more famous Mark Andreesen. Eric later became one of the founders of Netscape.

Had it not been for me, we’d all still be using Gopher.

One Response to “How I am responsible for the modern internet”

  1. Keith Braithwaite Says:

    My time as a post–grad student coincided with the rise of Mosaic. Someone from the university library came to give us a talk about research techniques and the various information sources available to us. She was pretty disparaging about this newfangled “world–wide web” thing. There was, she maintained, nothing that one could do with the web that one couldn’t do with Gopher, except that the web had pictures. As if anyone cared about that. I recall that she was particularly scathing about the “what’s cool” button that Mosaic had. I sometimes wonder what she thinks about it now…

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