It was twenty years ago today

  • Paul Ginsparg
  • Published 2000 in
    Optometry and vision science : official…

Abstract received its first email submission on 14 Aug 1991. Twenty years back is the timescale remembered (at least) as well as yesterday by those in mid-career, but viewed as ancient history by any generation of undergraduates. And while each new generation thinks it’s somehow unique, there are objective reasons to believe that the past two decades have witnessed an essential change in the way information is accessed, and how it is communicated to and from the general public, and among research professionals. Mine was the first generation to have ready access to computers, starting in what was then known as junior high school in the late 1960s. That meant a 100-baud teletype connected to a remote time-sharing system via an acoustically coupled modem, with paper punch tape as a storage medium for programs written in BASIC and PL/I. By high school, I’d been exposed to Fortran programming on punch cards, submitted in batch mode for line-printer output the next day, and had the edifying experience of multiply reloading a boot sequence into a PDP-8’s octal switches. I first used email on the original ARPANET — a predecessor of the Internet — during my freshman year at Harvard University in 1973. My more business-minded classmates Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were simultaneously strategizing ways to ensure that our class would have the largest average net worth of any undergraduate class ever. Mine is also the last generation to have experienced the legacy print system, and I paid what was then known as a secretary to type my doctoral thesis at Cornell University

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@article{Ginsparg2000ItWT, title={It was twenty years ago today}, author={Paul Ginsparg}, journal={Optometry and vision science : official publication of the American Academy of Optometry}, year={2000}, volume={77 11}, pages={567} }