When did you first surf the web?
I was reflecting the other day about a question my postgrad lecturer, Dr Peter Goodyear, asked me a couple of years ago:
When did you first use the Internet?
Of course, the “Internet” is a potentially controversial term. For me, however, the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW), and I remember first browsing it with Netscape Navigator back in my undergrad years at UTS.
In haste, I answered 1993. Peter challenged that answer, politely suggesting 1994 in its place.
I didn’t think much of this conversation until recently, when I was reminiscing about my college years. So I looked up Wikipedia, which informed me that the WWW was proposed in 1989 by Englishman Tim Berners-Lee, who developed all the tools necessary for a working web by the end of 1990. Users of the WWW in the early days were science academics and physicists, but all that changed in 1993 with the introduction of the popular Mosaic web browser.
Mosaic was superseded by Netscape Navigator in December 1994. Well, I certainly wasn’t visiting campus in December, so my first exploration of the WWW must have been in 1995. This is probably what Peter suspected all along.
Having said that, 1995 is still very early. Australians must have been among the first people outside of Europe and North America to “surf the web”…!