Thứ Tư, 15 tháng 2, 2017


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A Banner Year In 1985, Steve Jobs and the man he’d hired to be CEO, John Sculley, wrestled one last time over the control and direction of Apple Computer. In the end Jobs—the marketing whiz who had founded the company with genius computer designer Steve Wozniak—“resigned” his position and moved on. He didn’t move far. His new com  pany was called NeXT, and he designed high-powered (for the time, mind you) computer workstations aimed at the college and business markets from 1988 until 1993. Small, elegant, and loaded with goodies that made software development easier than ever before—Mach kernel, Unix, NeXTStep, Objective-C, drag-and-drop application builders, optical disks, digital signal processors, kitchen sink—NeXT was a commercial failure but a technological success, especially in many elite development environments. (In 1996, ironically, the company was bought out by Apple Computer, a move that plunked Jobs securely into the driver’s seat again; he’s been steering the company down the road to success ever since.) At some point during those five years when NeXT was thriving, one of its trademark black computers landed on the loading docks at CERN in Switzerland. It didn’t look like much, but by the time Brainy Brit Tim BernersLee finished writing the world’s first hypertext browser and WYSIWYG HTML markup editor, it was not just a humming, one-foot-to-a-side die-cast magnesium Cube. It was the Web’s first server. Berners-Lee introduced his browser on February 26, 1991. The World Wide Web—a global hypertext-linked space—existed before that, but until then there had been no way for anyone but CERN to access it. The browser used the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) as well as BernersLee’s Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and in what was obviously a very rare moment of fuzzy thinking, he named his browser “ review,” all one word. Very confusing. Fortunately he later recovered and renamed the browser Nexus. The network of information accessible through hypertext links processed by Internet nodes and servers around the world kept its original name, World Wide Web, three separate words. (Yes, technically worldwide should be one word, but you can’t change history.) On August 6, 1991, Berners-Lee sent a post to alt. hypertext, a Usenet newsgroup for people who wanted  to discuss hypertext and hypermedia. He included the code, free for anyone to download and use. This was the official public debut of the World Wide Web—the first opportunity for anyone on the Internet to witness a pivotal moment in history. It was as though CERN threw a party and nobody came. So it was that the World Wide Web tiptoed into our lives, with none of the fanfare and hype you would expect from something that would eventually revolutionize not just Internet Marketing but so many facets of our daily existence. At the time, however, hardly anyone could explain what the World Wide Web was all about, and only a small number of those people knew how to use it. Many ISPs didn’t even offer a way to access it. Overall, people were about as eager to embrace this wonderful new tool as they were to fill out their 1040s.
Okay, so Tim Berners-Lee is no Hemingway. Still, you have to admit: it’s award-winning material. And it made sense to some people. A handful of browsers existed at the time (Erwise, ViolaWWW, Midas, and Cello), but to say the response was subdued would be an understatement. Then three things happened that changed that.
One was subtle: in February of 1993, the University of Minnesota announced plans to collect licensing fees for the use of its Gopher servers, and most people suspected that fees for the program itself could not be far behind. Since Gopher was the main workhorse for most Internet users, the idea of having to pay to send and receive files was not good news. The second happened two months after that. CERN announced that there would be no fees for access to the World Wide Web. The various nodes and servers could tap into the global network at no charge. ISPs and others weighed the choices: paid access for a simple utility versus free access to the World Wide Web. Not surprisingly, there was a slow shift toward the Web. Very slow. Then came the biggest change of all. On April 22, 1993, the National Center for review Applications introduced Mosaic, a new browser developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. Mosaic unlocked the gates for the average user. For the first time, large numbers of people noticed the Web, for a very simple reason. Mosaic was easy to use, but what made it different from any other browser out there, and what made people’s eyes pop out, was that it allowed you to put a picture on the same page as your text. Before, pictures sat all by themselves on a blank screen, and you toggled between them and the copy. Unless you were there at the time, you can’t possibly understand what a big deal this enhancement was. It’s like the difference between finding something in the library card catalog, and actually reading the magazine. It was like overdubbing a foreignlanguage film. It was like real life. Gary Wolf wrote this in the October 1994 issue of
Wired Magazine, “The (Second Phase of the) Revolution Has Begun”:
When it comes to smashing a paradigm, pleasure is not
the most important thing. It is the only thing. If this sounds
wrong, consider Mosaic. Mosaic is the celebrated graphical
“browser” that allows users to travel through the world
of electronic information using a point-and-click interface.
Mosaic’s charming appearance encourages users to load
their own documents onto the Net, including color photos,
sound bites, video clips, and hypertext “links” to other documents. By following the links—click, and the linked document appears—you can travel through the online world
along paths of whim and intuition. Mosaic is not the most
direct way to fi nd online information. Nor is it the most
powerful. It is merely the most pleasurable way. Build it, and they will wait. Make it pleasurable, and they will come—in droves. Easy to use, nonlinear and graphics-friendly, that is how the Web revolutionized Internet Marketing. Corporate America took notice, of course, and soon many of the largest companies had a web page (and a few had multiple pages—real websites), which were for the most part simply marketing brochures reformatted for a computer screen. Users were usually directed to a phone number and a USPO address for more information or to conduct actual business. The first issue of Wired Magazine, begun in March 1993, made only passing (and rather negative) references to the Internet, but by the end of the year it became one of the first publications to list web and email addresses.
Wired itself was also on the Internet already, although it was based on the Gopher text storage-and-retrieval program and delivered by email. Being in the thick of new developments, the engineers who handled the Internet version of the publication tried to persuade the publisher, Lou Rossetto, that to maintain credibility, Wired had to establish a presence on the Internet. Now the powerful new browsers had made an Internet presence practical. Of course, magazines get their money, as a rule, from advertising, so the question became a matter of how to make the efforts pay for themselves.
Other publications had been supported by sponsors previously with clickable text ads—notably Global Network Navigator, an O’Reilly and Associates venture—but HotWired (the online version of Wired) carried the concept much further. Rick Boyce, formerly a media buyer for the review agency Hal Riney & Partners, sold a six-month placement to AT&T, giving the telecom giant a prominent top-of-the-landing-page position for the online component of its extensive “You Will” offline ad campaign. The 468x60-pixel ad—this would become the “standard” size—appeared on October 25, 1994:
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