Who were the Pioneers of the Internet?

It is 1980 and the web was not invented, but the Bulletin Board System (BBS) flourished. They served the same function of a website, email, file transfer, graphic all in text. Most were served by a single phone line and there was no communication among the BBS.

Nostalgic Asides
I remember the Sister BBS in Staten Island, NY had to close down because of a hacker.
I found a 300 baud modem a little slow and felt the need to upgrade soon. Ancient history.
End Asides

And then the creation of the multiuser BBS. I was on the Alianthus tree, but there were many more.
This multiuser technology turned commercial and the Source, Compuserve, and others evolved into AOL.

In those days the "Internet" was limited to a few universities working with the DOD. There were lots of regional networks like bitnet, fidonet, usenet, but internetworking was impossible and simple communication complicated.

In 1981 (or so) Bill McGarry was publishing the Handicap Digest using Listserv is the Father of all mailing list managers. The Handicap Digest HCAP-L was a compilation of all material available relating to persons with disabilities. I guess you could call him a ProtoGoogle.

Norm Coombs from the University of Rochester was promoting distance learning for persons with disabilities. He ultimately created an organization called EASI promoting equal access for persons with disabilities. I attended a webinar sponsored by EASI this week on using the voice synthesis to navigate Excel.

A little bit later networks devoted to K-12 arose and grew into major Listserv mailing lists like Patt Haring's Kidsnet.
In 1990 Anne Pemberton brought her own Apple IIe and 1200 baud modem and had her LD kids emailing to netpal all over the world. Chatback sponsored the Christmas dinner, where children all over the UK could tell what they ate.

Back in those days, the LD kids were shoved onto the computers because they liked it there and were quiet. And the better computer teachers were taking advantage of pre-internet networking.

Do you think that someone could have gotten the hint and found some way to teach these kids using computers instead of just dumping them on the computer teacher. The real irony is that when the Education Establishment suddenly realized the value of the computer and the Internet, the logical thing to do was to take the LD kids off the computers and make them learn the basics. They don't know enough to use the computers. We will reserve it for the brightest kids who can make the most out of it.

PS While Anne Pemberton's LD kids were emailing around the world, the gifted kids were learning bridge.

While all this was going on, what were the Universities doing? In 1994 I hooked up with Robert Ambrose who had created the Enabling Support Foundation. He refurbished donated computers and gave them to persons with disabilities and provided training. I was able to get two lines from my university dedicated to ESF and the clients reached the Internet. At that point there were a total of 12 lines. That they had two to spare shows the use of the internet on a college campus in 1994. Not a heavy use for a University of 10,000.

The Pioneers of Internet were the persons with disabilities and K-12 Education.
But, IBM had a saying: Pioneers get arrows in the back.

There were two arrows. Windows and the World Wide Web.
Before windows only Macintosh had a graphical interface and used a mouse. The PC was controled by command line and menus. Bill Gates put out a graphical interface that runs on Dos and impossible to use. Windows 1 was born. And today, he has succeeded in turning a perfectly good digital computer into simulated analogue computer with how many gigs of software?

Arrow 1. How do the blind navigate a graphical interface with a mouse? PWD typically have below average income and it is more expensive to buy a computer that needs a larger computer with more storage, ram and processing speed.

Arrow 2. The World Wide Web was created in the early 1990;s. It was hypertext. If you go to a node and select it, you would get to another node. For example, you are reading an article that cites a reference and you click on the reference to take a look. I remember using a program using hypertext in 1981. It would be brilliant on the Internet.

And then some bright spoilsport said, hey we are not limited to text. The addition of images and sounds added two dimensions to the web but at a horrible price in bandwidth.

Now we need a broadband connection in addition to the already expensive computer to use the Internet.

In 1990 persons with disability hailed the Internet as leveling the playing field. Then windows and the web enticed the universities and the general population onto the internet and suddenly the playing field is as lopsided as it ever was. It is impossible for blind person to have a FaceBook page unless aided by a sighted person.

Pioneers do indeed get arrows in the back.

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