Friday, July 10, 2015

Where nobody knows your name

Architects of Modern Communication - Internet/Email/Digital Camera Creators

Why is it that for three of the most revolutionary communication tools in today’s society, most people have no idea who invented them?  First of all, I discovered who invented all three of these communication tools on a show called The Henry Ford Innovation Nation that comes on early Saturday morning on CBS hosted by Mo Rocca.  These inventions have become such an integral part of our everyday existence that you would think we would have no problem naming who invented them.  Just like we can easily associate Steve Jobs with Apple, Bill Gates with Microsoft and Jeff Bezos with Amazon.  However the average person, could not begin to tell you who invented the internet, email and the digital camera.  We just acknowledge that they just came into existence and role with that.  Hmmm!

First of all the internet was thought of by J. C. R. Licklider who is largely responsible for the theoretical basis of the Internet, an “Intergalactic Computer Network.” His idea was to create a network where many different computer systems would be interconnected to one another to quickly exchange data, rather than have individual systems setup, each one connecting to some other individual system.  He thought up the idea after having to deal with three separate systems connecting to computers in Santa Monica, the University of California, Berkeley, and a system at MIT.  The platform mentioned by Licklider, ARPANET was based on these ideas and was the principle precursor to the Internet as we think of it today. It was installed and operated for the first time in 1969 with four nodes, which were located at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of California at Los Angeles, SRI at Stanford University, and the University of Utah.  Henceforth, the next time you hop on the Information Highway, give thanks to Mr. Licklider for his innovative thinking which led to what we now use.

Email came about because in 1978, a 14-year-old named V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai developed a computer program, which replicated the features of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system. He named his program “EMAIL”. In the summer of 1978, Shiva had been recruited for programming assignments at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, New Jersey. One of his supervisors recognized his abilities and challenged him to translate the conventional paper-based interoffice and inter-organizational communication system (i.e., paper-based mail and memoranda) to an electronic communication system. So thanks to the desire of a 14 year old to replicate a general office system through the computer we now have email.  Who da thunk!

The Digital Camera was created by Steve Sasson from parts from other cameras. The device had parts that were taken from other cameras as the body and other Kodak pieces used for the rest. The whole device weighed over 8 pounds and was as large as a toaster of the time. The device was nowhere as quick or compact as modern digital cameras or camera phones. The protocol digital camera took 23 seconds to take a photograph and only produced images that were a tenth of a modern pixel. It then took 23 seconds for the image to process on to a cassette tape.

These innovators should be acknowledge more for their contributions to some of modern societies most used conveniences that have shaped how we communicate on a regular basis.  However, they go largely unrecognized.  So the next time you hop on the information highway to send an email or perhaps Instagram a photo, give thanks to these unknown pioneers, I know I will.

The Female Perspective

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