Born Into The Graph Part I: Preface Continued

So in continuing with the aforementioned history of the social web, lets start a little further back before you made your first dial-up phone call to Prodigy. I've had the privilege of hearing from Ed Yourdon, who is widely known as the lead developer of the Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method (SSADM), as well as co-developer of the Yourdon/Whitehead method of object-oriented analysis/design and the Coad/Yourdon OO methodology of the late 1980s and 1990s. He shared some of his personal experience with early, rudimentary "emailing". Below is a portion of his email to me:

Love In The Time of PDP-6

"When I graduated from MIT in 1965, there were a couple of computer projects (e.g., Marvin Minsky's AI lab, which had a PDP-6 computer) where a small number of people could communicate via e-mail within the same computing environment. I don't know when the first "remote" email communications took place, but you can probably find that somewhere in the "official" lore of Internet history.

I worked at DEC during my undergraduate years, and then afterwards; we, too, had a PDP-6 that allowed us to intercommunicate. And at one point, we hooked our machine up to MIT's AI-lab PDP-6, and got two copies of the "Eliza" AI program (click here for the Wikipedia article) communicating with one another via email. Unfortunately, it degenerated fairly quickly, as each copy of Eliza wanted the other one to do all the talking -- just like a psychiatrist.

A couple years after I worked at DEC, my future-wife and I were working for a NYC-based consulting firm that assigned us to work for a client called ComShare; they had one of the first nationwide time-sharing service bureaus at the time. Toni worked at the Comshare data center somewhere in godawful New Jersey, and I worked in their data center in Ann Arbor, MI; we figured out how to connect the two machines remotely, so that we could communicate inexpensively (i.e., free) via email rather than expensive phone calls.

Several years after that, we started our own NYC-based consulting firm; and through the urgings of a Bell Labs wizard that we had hired (P.J. Plauger, who has written lots of books about UNIX and C, etc.), we became the first non-academic licensee of UNIX in the country ... and, of course, began sprinkling terminals around the office so that everyone could communicate. Then we gave people (including secretaries, salespeople, and anyone else who wanted one) terminals to take home, so they could log in and get their work done at home when miserable weather made commuting impossible.

All of this seems very mundane today, and the technical people on our staff certainly understood what we were doing. But the admin, secretarial, and accounting people had a heck of a time explaining to their friends and family at home why they wanted to connect a big, clumsy teletype or CRT to a big, clunky 300-baud modem in order to dial up the office computer ..."

A Note about Ed and his wife Toni:

"We went to high school together, then went to different colleges. I got her a job programming (with an English degree) after DEC"

I think that is more than awesome...and hey! I have an English degree too...

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