April 17, 1996

A typical PHSC web page in the summer of 2000 after a major facelift.

Toronto. The late 1980s were a busy time. Film was still king. Personal computers and bulletin boards were all the rage with techies. A telephone call to another country was very expensive.

Few had heard of the internet or emails, or the Web. In the early 1990s efforts were underway to create a standard mark-up language for the internet. Called HTML (hypertext mark-up language) it standardized a script to write electronic pages on the internet and to allow hot links to other sites and pages.

We had tried hypertext before, of course. Back in the early 1960s, hypertext text books were a fad. Depending on how you answered a question, you were directed to different pages which either congratulated you or explained the error in your logic. And of course followed with another short question and choice of answer!

Our own web site went online over 22 years ago on April 17, 1996, but when I announced it that evening at our annual business meeting (a monthly Toronto meeting), I was met with polite blank looks. Few of the members at that time even had email addresses or computers let alone any idea what the internet or Web were about. I can still remember the thrill of downloading a website from Britain via the internet, and my first experience with hot links!

ARPANET began as an American packet switched communications process connecting military and later university computers. It introduced the early TCP/IP protocol used by the internet today. Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Europe came up with the concept of the World Wide Web as a means to share scientific papers amongst universities.

Today, we take email addresses and the web for granted, happily Googling information, and searching the web for bargains and store hours. The websites have replaced magazines, newspapers, and many flyers for us. Utilities send bills by email and some charge a fee for a mailed paper copy. Banks no long use passbooks and refuse to update those quaint artifacts of a bygone era. Now the web and email (and even Facebook) are considered old fashioned by youth who have migrated to newer social media platforms. And landline telephones? Puleeeze!

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