Summer 1997

Dmitry Altukhov,

This issue will be nostalgic. The things are getting stranger and stranger these days. The good ol' Net we knew in early nineties now looks like a typical picture in The Web of 94-95 will never be the same again.

Here is a little big magical mystery adventure, extracted from old notes and bookmarks. Spiced up with some inevitable clearasil of '97, for your skin safety.

Well, new users will never get into the mood of the 'killer app' times.

Most of today's Web madness comes from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. First there was Mosaic, the killer app for the Internet, written by graduate geek named NN 09 Mark A., and when Mark was struck by the Clark-induced gold fever and left, the work went on for some time. Now, both Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer are actually based on the original killer app.

Most of you missed early versions of NCSA Mosaic and Mozilla, aka Mosaic Netscape by Mosaic Communications ( Can you now imagine the time when there were no backgrounds, all pages were plain #C0C0C0, no tables, not to mention frames, target windows, style sheets. Even <CENTER> was a pure netscapism, and no other browser cared about the tag. This was the time when the <BLINK> flame war was on, and everyone at Netscape disclaimed responsibility for the tag. If you're lucky - get a grap of old Netscape browsers here:


These were the days of the Frontier. First enthusiasts were building a better Web. The center of all activity was at NCSA, now there is an excellent retrospective of NCSA pages of 1993-1997. One of the most popular Web hotlists was NCSA What's New (closed a year ago). There also was David Siegel, a professional designer, who was one of the first persons to establish a professional web design award, which influenced a lot of quality sites of 1995 to 1997.

The Future Now

So welcome to the second half of 97. Worlds away from the old time. New words are invented almost every week. Pointcast, netcast, crossware... Active desktop. Webtop. Tops. Tops. Tops. Makes you wanna think about something topless... And totally senseless.

When I first discovered the Internet in 1991, it was like a frontier even in the US. No Web, no retail stores, no spam, and almost no users. You could send an email to a complete stranger, and get a quick response. It was quite normal then. Now, my procmail protects me from most known spammers and bulk mailers, and when I dig into my real-life mailbox downstairs, and dump the overnight spam (like ads for instant computer literacy course and inevitable ads newspapers, like Moscow-wide Extra M), I just think... Why can't I setup a snail mail filter? Something that will electrocute an unknown spammer...

As for current Internet development in Russia - that's all simply amazing.

It's like the Internet goldrush time in Moscow - yes, the wave finally hit the city. In this town, it seems that there are more ISPs than users, and everyone is into writing columns... Well obviously, this country has more amateur Internet 'columnists' than readers... Content is usually just a puny attempt to make a cool ICP out of an average personal home page, presenting biased views of its author. Yes, there is quality content in Russia, but honorable mention will go only to Infoart Web Publishing House, as it is the first and largest real Internet content provider in Russia...

    Maybe I'm too nostalgic, but I just cannot help it. Unfortunately I was on the Net before the temple was made 'a den of thieves'... My first pages and sites were created in the days of NCSA Mosaic and Netscape 0.9 to 1.1... So like it or not - the western Net just a department store now, and Russian Web is like a small (but growing) citydump and most of the fun is not there anymore... Alas. And no way out?... be continued soon enough...

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