Evolution Of The Internet

June 16th, 2014 by George Farina 2 comments »

This 1990’s commercial got me thinking about the early days of the internet. I’ve been fascinated with the net for as long as I could remember. I figure because the world wide web is so vast I liked it for different reasons at different times in my life. It’s somewhat funny watching this today, not only because the video itself has some funny parts, but also because most of what’s talked about is second nature for so many of us. It seems like much of what’s said is relevant today. Meaning the infrastructure of the internet hasn’t changed all that much since it was first introduced.

Considering I’m in my 40’s, I feel lucky to have been around the net since it was first introduced in the early 1990’s. My father started working as a computer operator in 1965 and later switched to programing in the mid 1970’s. Back then there were no home computers and only larger companies used computers. These were gigantic mainframe computers used for data storage and manipulation. They were so large they literately took up an entire room. Computer programs weren’t typed into the first computers like they are with today’s computers. Programers would write the program out via longhand onto a coding sheet and afterwards they would be typed into a Keypunch Machine. The Keypunch Machines would print the program onto a small rectangular manila index card via punching a series of little square holes into the card. The cards would then be inserted into the mainframe computer, which would be able to read the cards and convert the information into a language it understood. From there the computers would perform the task as originally designed by the program. Since these computers only had 12,000 bytes of memory and no hard drive, data was stored on large tape drives. The tape drives looked like giant movie reels from the 1940’s. And to put the 12,000 bytes of memory they contained into perspective – 1 megabyte of data has 1,048,576 bytes. These gargantuan computers didn’t even have enough memory to store one decent sized jpeg image. Looking back I figure my fathers background with computers played a large part as to why we ended up having access to the internet at an early stage.

The first ISP we used was from a provider called GNN (Global Network Navigator). It was introduced shortly before AOL and had many similar features including the channels on the home area. We ran GNN on a 386 PC with a 14.4 modem. By today’s standards the modem and PC were as slow as dirt, but back then that wasn’t something of concern. Using even the slowest computer / modem combo for e-mail and research was much faster than driving to the Library or hand writing a letter. Prior to the PC we had a TI99 and a Commodore 64. Both of those computers were kept in our basement. Somehow I managed to talk my parents into letting me keep the PC in my room. I was ecstatic just to be able to experience the world wide web. However, once I discovered chat rooms shortly thereafter I had a new infatuation. I remember when I first came across the GNN chat rooms. I thought they were the greatest thing imaginable. The chat section(s) were basically one long chat room with hundreds of people from all over the world. They also moved very fast. I discovered them one night before I went to bed. The next morning I skipped school and talked online all day. I was infatuated with this whole new world and couldn’t pry myself away. I grew up in a small town and there were people from all over the world in these chat rooms. Plus, I was a somewhat quite kid so it seemed like a great way to meet girls. Even if at that age I would never have the opportunity to meet them in person.

Even though the infrastructure of the net is very much the same there are many differences between today’s internet and the one of days past. Altavista, mentioned in the video was the go to search engine at the time and my favorite. Altavista is now gone with the wind and has been for a while. AOL also mentioned has changed drastically. For me, its hard to believe. Both were extremely popular during the early 1990’s. Although, AOL would give me fits when the connection would drop. I remember playing 24 hour Slingo tournaments. Slingo was a slot-like game offered through AOL. It was very similar to the Facebook games of today. They would have 24 hour tournaments where players would compete against others online. Players would have to stay up for 24 hours playing contentiously to obtain the highest score. Apparently, there were others crazy enough and determined enough to play the game for 24 hours straight because I never won a tournament. As with GNN, AOL had chat rooms but they were a little different. AOL had hundreds of different rooms. There was one for just about everything. And they usually contained plenty of people chatting away. This was cool because you could find chat rooms that matched your interests or even your location. And as with GNN I spent hours upon hours trying to meet girls in the chat rooms via AOL. Though, this time a bit older, a teenager, a bit naive but determined that the gal for me was waiting in one of those rooms.

Now the internet is a way of life. A life where people couldn’t possibly imagine living without such a luxury. Sure, Altavista is gone, AOL is only a microcosm of its former self. Myspace users migrated to Facebook. All but the most diehard LiveJournal users switched to Blogger and WordPress. Netscape Navigator is caput. Free website hosts/builders like Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire and Fortunecity don’t really exist. Today you have Blogger, Tumblr and Facebook as the popular options. Users of Peer-to-peer sites like Napster and Limewire have moved on to Torrent clients like PirateBay, uTorrent and Bitcommet. Chat rooms I’m sure still exist, but are not nearly as popular as they were in the 1990’s. IRC and AOL chat rooms were the most popular at the time, but I’m not even sure if they’re still around. And really I wouldn’t even know where those users migrated, maybe Myspace along with other social media sites like Facebook, Hi5 or Twitter. I figure some even switched to texting platforms like WhatsApp. Furthermore, one of the nets biggest changes is with video. Due to faster connections videos, television and movies have become extremely popular.

With so much changed there are some websites that thrived or at least survived over the last 20 years of cyberspace. eBay has had many ups and downs, but is relatively the same and in no danger of changing or going anywhere soon. Yahoo! is always evolving, but its main feature is still data searches. However, I have to say I miss the Yahoo! magazine and auctions. Aint-It-Cool-News, a smaller website I first started visiting back in the 1990’s is still run by the same owner and with very much the same idea as when first launched. Plus, the very heart of the internet, the infrastructure, is almost identical from when it was first introduced. All web address still start with http:// (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Domains typically start with WWW (World Wide Web) and the combination of the three (http, www and domain name) is still the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The World Wide Web is still accessed via web browser. Web browsers basically convert programing languages to the graphics / design you see on websites. HTML and PHP have evolved a bit from earlier days, but are currently widely used programing languages. Though, they are slowly loosing ground to newer languages such as Ruby and Python.

With technology always evolving one never knows what the future holds, especially with mobile platforms becoming increasing popular. But for now the main idea of the internet is relatively the same as when first introduced in the 1990’s. For many of us its hard to believe that was over 20 years ago.

Vintage Mainframe Computer

A Vintage Mainframe Computer – Honeywell 1800.

IBM 029 Card Punch Data Recorder Keypunch Machine

This is an old IBM 029 Keypunch Machine with some punch cards. – Image by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

America Online Home Screen

The America Online Home Screen as it was in the early 1990’s.

* Additional Notes: The above video isn’t of the complete internet commercial. The original is about thirty minutes and can be found on Youtube.

Joie Chitwood Chevy Thunder Thrill Show

June 1st, 2014 by George Farina 1 comment »

Joie Chitwood Chevy Thunder Thrill Show
I remember going to the Joie Chitwood Chevy Thunder Show (also know as the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show) as a kid. This was years before I was able to drive and probably not the best thing for a kid who was already salivating at the thought of getting a drivers license someday. That’s because these drivers were out-of-their-freaken-mind! In the first video below this post they use terms like precision driving, alignment and skill to describe the driver stunts. Where as I think most people would use the term Crazy! These death-defying drivers were jumping over cars, jumping into cars (not by accident, but on purpose), driving through fire (with a person on the hood) and driving long distances on the two side wheels of the car. All this with stock Chevy cars.

The show certainly instilled a memory in my mind that I carry with me to this day some 20+ years later. I still have a brochure from the show I attended, which was signed by one of the Chitwood brothers. However, I wasn’t the only one for which the show instilled a lasting memory. Apparently, it did the same for a youngster named Robert “Evel” Knievel. Evel Knevel attended the Joie Chitwood show in 1953 and at that moment knew he wanted to be a stuntman. As many of you know Evel Knevel went on to become the greatest motorcycle stuntman of all time. He also toured with the show for a number of years.

The traveling thrill show took place at many different locations throughout the United States and Canada. The one I saw was in Upstate New York at the Fonda Fair just outside of Johnstown. The thrill show became so popular that at one time it was broadcast on nation wide television. It was also featured in the Clark Gable movie “To Please a Lady”, James Bond’s “Live And Let Die” and in an episode of both Chips and Miami Vice.

Lucky Teter was the original owner of the thrill stunt show, but passed away while attempting a 125-foot car jump during a show in 1942. The car Lucky was driving had a misfire in the engine and came up short on the landing. That goes to show the devastating dangers that come with the stunts. Joie Chitwood Sr. purchased the thrill show from the widow of Lucky in 1943. From there the Joie Chitwood thrill show was born with its first performance taking place on July 4th 1943 in Pennsylvania. Joie’s stunt show continued on for over fifty years with his son’s (Joie II, Joie III and Tim Chitwood) taking over once Joie Sr. retired. At one point it was common for live shows to have over 100,000 fans in attendance. The stunt show lasted until 1998. I guess like so many cool things of the past the show faded away.

During his run, Joie Sr. was both a driver in the stunt show and also a professional race car driver. He is credited with being the first driver to ever wear a seat belt in the Indianapolis 500. Joie Sr. competed in the prestigious Indianapolis 500 seven different times and finished in the top five on three occasions. Joie II also became a professional race car driver with appearances at Daytona and Sebring. He contributed to countless television shows, commercials and films. Tim Chitwood owns the title of “World’s Number One Ranked Stunt Man” He also holds the world record for driving an American made automobile on two wheels for the longest distance. He drove a Chevrolet for 5.9 miles on its side two wheels. Joie III is no slouch either. He started performing stunts in the thrill show at the age of five. Plus, he is currently the president of the Daytona International Speedway and sits on the board of trustees for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.


Joie Chitwood Thrill Show Documentary


1956 Chevrolet Joie Chitwood Thrill Show Commercial

Soviet Space Suit Worn In Space By Alexei Leonov On The 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Mission

May 26th, 2014 by greenteabreak No comments »

Alexei Leonovs Sokol Spacesuit Apollo Soyuz

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! – Fallen Idol by The Greg Kihn Band

May 23rd, 2014 by greenteabreak No comments »


Fallen Idol by Greg Kihn Band (Lyrics)

they say its lonely at the top
they say the only thing you got
this isolation sure brings you down
no true friends still come around
its so cold here in the winds
the singer knows the song he sings
his washed out image about to take a fall
inside he doesn’t care at all

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
there will be no joy in the dressing room tonight
and the curtain falls on the fallen idol
in a black limousine he will leave here unseen, tonight

when he was young he was a fighter
he always knew which way to go
times changed him, rearranged him
and it seems like he’s the last to know

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
as he stares into the spotlight one more time
there’s no curtain call for the fallen idol
as the band looks away they don’t know what to play, tonight

he stands alone now on the edge of the stage
and I swear I could hear his heart pounding
his voice is just a whisper in the back shadows and echos of the great auditorium
and he looks out, looks out at the faces and he says
reach out and touch me or I might fade away
reach out, reach out and touch me
before I fade away

and the lights go out on the fallen idol
as he looks right down the barrel one last time
and its curtains now for the fallen idol
as he backs from the stage with his sole in a rage, tonight, tonight

reach out, for the fallen idol
reach out, reach out for the fallen idol
reach out

Motivational Monday – REVIVAL

May 19th, 2014 by greenteabreak No comments »

MERS Update: Situation Still Not Good

May 19th, 2014 by greenteabreak No comments »

MERS Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Deadly Virus
The situation for MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in the USA is still not good and getting worse. Unfortunately, two more cases of the deadly virus have been found within the United States. We reported on the first case of MERS here. The good news is that the first person who contracted the virus is no longer sick.

The second case turned up in Florida on May 8th. It is unrelated to the first case and currently being investigated by the CDC (Center For Disease Control). Though, the person who contracted the disease is a healthcare worker and recently returned from an overseas trip.

The third case was found in Illinois. This one is related to the first case of MERS as both men were business associates and had extended contact. What makes the third case more worrisome is that the MERS virus was transmitted on U.S. soil. This is the first known case of MERS to have been transmitted on U.S. soil. Currently, the latest victim has shown only slight signs of sickness and is being closely monitored.

Gordo: The Worlds Greatest Street Drummer

May 17th, 2014 by greenteabreak No comments »

This kid deserves a record deal, but for now only those in Sydney, Australia get to witness his unbelievable talent in person via the streets. Though, I’m pretty sure street goers will be more than willing to help fill his buckets with coins based on his performances. This amazing street performer goes by the name of Gordo. He’s been playing drums since he was a child and buckets since high school. He has a YouTube page and Facebook page. Once you press play be prepared to be wowed!

Honeywell’s Kitchen Computer: The First Home Computer

May 14th, 2014 by George Farina 1 comment »

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer
The Kitchen Computer is widely recognized as the very first home computer offered to consumers. This monstrosity weighted in at over 100lbs and was mostly used to store and display recipes. The Kitchen Computer was a luxury item as only the wealthiest of wealthy were able to afford this machine. It was offered for sale at Neiman Marcus stores for $10,000. That would be about 65K today. Imagine having to pony-up 65K for a computer! Forget that! Luckily, that’s not necessary. For under a hundred dollars a small tablet could be purchased and used to store virtually every recipe known to mankind.

One of the main reasons the Kitchen Computer wasn’t a success was because it wasn’t user friendly. Once purchased the new owner needed to take a two week programing class so they could learn how to enter and read recipes. To enter recipes a series of zeros and ones known as binary code would need to be programed into the computer. When a recipe was requested the computer would display a pattern of coded flashing lights. The user would then need to decipher the coded lights to understand the recipe. Yes, I know what you’re thinking! That sounds like a lot of extra work for a single meal. To make things worse, the Kitchen Computer was rather large and wouldn’t fit in many kitchens.

This futuristic looking machine was made by Honeywell. Technically it’s name was H316. Introduced in 1965 the H316 didn’t last long due to its many drawbacks and high price. Though, the computer did possess some cool features. It had the ability to suggest a meal based on a particular side dish. It came with a built in cutting/rolling board and the 1969 model came with pre-programed recipes. Plus, it looked very cool. Today there is only one Kitchen Computer known to be in existence. It can be seen at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer 1969

A closer look at the H316 Honeywell Kitchen Computer. This is the 1969 version with the stand.

 

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer Ad

Neiman Marcus’s original advertisement featuring the Kitchen Computer from their catalog.

1964, 1965 New York World’s Fair

May 8th, 2014 by George Farina 7 comments »
The AMF Monorail Train At The 1964, 1965 New York Worlds Fair

The AMF Monorail train gave passengers an eight minute ride around the amusement section of the 1964, 1965 New York Worlds Fair.

Its been 50 years since the 1964, 1965 New York Worlds Fair, but vivid memories of the fair are still etched in the heads of so many that attended. The 1964, 1965 New York Worlds Fair opened April 22, 1964 in Flushing Meadows, Queens and closed on October 17th 1965. The 64/65 Worlds Fair was one of the coolest events to ever hit New York City! Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was completely transformed into a dreamland beyond ones wildest imagination. The newness, uniqueness and futuristic technology was something never before witnessed by inner-city kids or for that matter adults. Even for the older adults who were lucky enough to have attended the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. It just didn’t compare. The 64/65 Fair in Flushing became the flagship Worlds Fair.

The fair kicked off a time of change not only for New York City, the United States but for the world. Many of the items and technology featured in this Worlds Fair became a way of life during the years to come. The push button phone featured for the first time ever at the fair eventually moved the longstanding good old rotary phone into extinction. Ford unveiled the Mustang at the fair. The Mustang is still in production to this day and remains Fords most recognized automobile. Chrysler showcased an experimental car powered by a turbine (jet style) engine. Attendees would be able to witness the car drive around a track. At the time Chrysler billed the turbine engine as the engine of the future for cars. However, there were certain technological hurdles the car maker couldn’t overcome for the engine to be production ready. For instance the jet fuel burned so hot no one was able to stand behind the car with the engine running. Chrysler also couldn’t find a way to quite the amount of noise produced or limit emissions. The first color TV debuted at the Worlds Fair 25 years after a black and white TV was introduced at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. Here are some other notables either introduced or in early development on display at the fair:

  • The first video phone was introduced by Bell System called Picturephone. You would be able to see the person and talk to them at the same time. This was basically an early version of today’s Skype.
  • The First push button phone was on display. Prior to the fair all phones were rotary dial.
  • The Belgian Waffle was popularized.
  • A model of the Twin Towers World Trade Center was on display.
  • Sprite was developed and introduced to the public for the first time.
  • The first color television was on display.

The 1964, 1965 Worlds Fair also had a number of exhibits featured throughout the fair. All-in-all there were a hundred and fifty pavilions and exhibits. Thirty-six foreign countries and twenty-one states sponsored exhibits. The rest were mostly sponsored by corporations. The exhibits by foreign countries were something very similar to what you see at Disney World today.

One of the fairs most famous exhibits was the Vatican Pavilion because it was where Michelangelo’s “Pieta” was displayed for the first time in the United States. Michelangelo’s “Pieta” was imported all the way from Italy specifically to be showcased at the Fair. The Carrara marble sculpture is the only piece of art Michelangelo Buonarroti ever signed. It displays the body of Jesus Christ laying on his mothers lap just after the Crucifixion. Walt Disney Productions had their own exhibit displaying robots that used a technology called “audio-animatronics”. These robots could move, sit, stand and talk. The U.S. Space Park housed full-scale models of a Saturn V Boattalia rocket engine. The Saturn V is the same engine that was later used in the Apollo space missions. The Better Living Center housed 76 live animals. The fair even had a dinosaur park called Sinclair Dinoland. Guests would see life size dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and Brontosaurus. Another exhibit named the Illinois Pavilion featured a life size figure of Abraham Lincoln, which would speak the Gettysburg Address.

In the amusement park area and throughout the Worlds Fair there were a number of fun and futuristic rides. U.S.Royal Tires built a gigantic Ferris Wheel with the look of a tire. Visitors could ride go karts with the shell of actual cars. Chrysler offered a ride giving attendees the chance to sit in a car as it went through a complete automobile assembly line. An entire Monorail train system was built around the amusement area. Riders would embark on an eight minute ride inside a quite air conditioned single track monorail train three stories in the air. Within the amusement area there were a number of amusement park type rides including a roller-coaster like water ride. Perhaps the most awe inspiring ride at the fair was General Motors Futurama ride where riders would experience a futuristic view of the galaxy as never before seen. They would witness underwater hotels, Lunar Rovers maneuvering effortlessly on far away planets, an Antarctica developed with multiple dome-like communities and the technological machines used to build Futurama.

The Worlds Fair was enormous. It was situated on 12,000 plus acres of land. This post only offers a glimpse into the greatness of this epic event. I haven’t even mentioned the Tower of Light, The Band Pavilion, the Carousel of Progress or the plethora of other items and pavilions. When visitors saw all they could see for one day and their feet were killing them they would make their way over to the fountain (by the gigantic 12 story stainless steel globe known as the Unisphere) to watch the nightly fireworks.

Unfortunately, today there is not much left of the Worlds Fair at its original location. However, one structure still stands at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. I’m talking about the Worlds Fair’s most iconic structure. The famed New York State Pavlovian designed by Philip Johnson. It housed three observation towers and is known to many as the centerpiece of the fair. It is now designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust of Historic Preservation. It also was the location for the fairs 50th anniversary celebration which took place earlier this year.

Believe it or not the Worlds Fair is still alive and well today. It’s just under another name. Plus, the famous fair hasn’t been in the United States for a number of years and isn’t expected back for many more to come. The Worlds Fair is now called Universal Exposition or Expo for short. The last Expo took place in Shanghai, China in 2010. 73+ million people attended with 246 exhibits on display. The next Expo will be held in Milan, Italy starting May 1st 2015.


A small clip from shows at the theater. The audience would sit in the center while the theater moved around around the audience.


Win the column of cash. This a small video clip of a cash (one dollar bills) filled gigantic glass tube spinning around in a circle. If attendees guessed how much money was in the column they would win all the money.

1964, 1965 New York City Worlds Fair Sinclair Dinoland

1964, 1965 New York City Worlds Fair featured Sinclair Dinoland. A giant section of the fair dedicated to prehistoric creatures.

1964, 1965 New York City Worlds Fair Unisphere Globe

1964, 1965 New York City Worlds Fair Unisphere Globe.

1964 1965 New York Worlds Fair GM Futurama Building. This was just a model of the real building.

1964 1965 New York Worlds Fair GM Futurama Building. This was just a model of the real building.

1964 1965 New York Worlds Fair New York State Pavilion

New York State Pavilion with the three observation towers.

1964 1965 New York Worlds Fair U.S. Royal Tires Ferris Wheel

The U.S. Royal Tires Ferris Wheel at the 1964 1965 New York Worlds Fair.

 

*Green Tea Break would like to thank the donor of the above (never before published) video clips. And also for their first hand account of such a fantastic event.

Homeless

May 4th, 2014 by greenteabreak 1 comment »