What Happened Today, May 25th

 
First International World Wide Web Conference

CERN hosted the first international World Wide Web conference, which continued through May 27. At the conference, researchers expanded on Tim Berners-Lee's concept of a single storage facility for a variety of information -- a design that would greatly aid his research at CERN, where he previously had to use a number of different programs and locations to collect what he needed. While participants understood the usefulness of Berners-Lee's concept and HyperText Markup Language, few guessed how quickly the Web would expand to millions of users globally.

What Happened This Week

Robert Metcalfe's Original Ethernet memo
Robert Metcalfe's Original Ethernet memo
 
Xerox Researcher Proposes "Ethernet"

Robert Metcalfe, a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California, writes his original memo proposing an "Ethernet," a means of connecting computers together. Metcalfe described the document, typed out on an IBM Selectric typewriter, as follows: "Ether Acquisition" ... heavy with handwritten annotations -- one of which was "ETHER!" -- and with hand-drawn diagrams -- one of which showed `boosters' interconnecting branched cable, telephone, and radio ethers in what we now call an internet.... If Ethernet was invented in any one memo, by any one person, or on any one day, this was it."

 
Java Development Begins in Earnest

Sun Microsystems Inc. formally announced its new programs, Java and HotJava at the SunWorld '95 convention. Java was described as a programming language that, combined with the HotJava World Wide Web browser, offered the best universal operating system to the online community. The concept behind the programs was to design a programming language whose applications would be available to a user with any kind of operating system, eliminating the problems of translation between Macintoshes, IBM-compatible computers, and Unix machines.

 
MIT's Clark Begins Work on LINC Computer

Wes Clark began his work on LINC, or the Laboratory Instrument Computer, at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. His plan was to create a computer for biomedical research, that was easy to program and maintain, that could be communicated with while it operated, and that could process biotechnical signals directly. Building on his previous experience in developing the Whirlwind, TX-0, and other early computers, Clark set to work on one of the earliest examples of a "user friendly" machine -- setting the standard for personal computer design in the following decades.

 
First International World Wide Web Conference

CERN hosted the first international World Wide Web conference, which continued through May 27. At the conference, researchers expanded on Tim Berners-Lee's concept of a single storage facility for a variety of information -- a design that would greatly aid his research at CERN, where he previously had to use a number of different programs and locations to collect what he needed. While participants understood the usefulness of Berners-Lee's concept and HyperText Markup Language, few guessed how quickly the Web would expand to millions of users globally.

 
Gates Declares Internet "Most Important Single Development"

Realizing his company had missed the boat in estimating the impact and popularity of the Internet, Microsoft Corp. CEO Bill Gates issued a memo titled, "The Internet Tidal Wave," which signaled the company's renewed focus on that arena. In the memo, Gates declared that the Internet was the "most important single development" since the IBM personal computer -- a development that he was assigning "the highest level of importance."

 
MIT Shuts Down "Whirlwind" Computer

After almost a decade of service, MIT shut down its Whirlwind computer. The machine debuted on Edward R. Murrow's See It Now television series in 1951, showing off its quick speed and large memory compared to other systems at the time. Project director Jay Forrester described the computer as a "reliable operating system," running 35 hours a week at 90-percent utility using an electrostatic tube memory.

 
Committee Forms to Develop New Language

A committee formed to develop COBOL, or Common Business Oriented Language. The group of researchers drawn from several computer manufacturers and the Pentagon designed a program for business use that sought easy readability and as much machine independence as possible. Although programmer Howard Bromberg prematurely made a tombstone for COBOL out of fear that the language had no future, it continues to be used by businesses today. The tombstone is now part of the Computer History Museum's collection.