The invention of the personal computer in 1977 made it possible for individuals to change they way people work, enjoy life and communicate. Apple's first Computer store in Wisconsin evolved from the Fox Valley Computer Store on Commercial Street in Neenah. For five years the local community gained an appreciation for the possibilities of owning a computer - a first in that age. As a stand alone device computer users swapped information and software using media, in the form of tapes, paper, and electronic cards. In 1982, the Cromix operating system was offered on a personal computer and Unix on systems individuals could afford was born.
About that time the University of California - San Diego made a Pascal language development environment available in the UCSD 'Adaptable System" for CP/M. This software required only the Basic Input Output system of a microcomputer to boot up. I created that and enjoyed using UCSD Pascal for some time. Unlike Leor Zolman's BDS "C" compiler, UCSD's Pascal had a highly structured programming environment - forcing the designer to work through more complex data representation issues before designing functional components. C, on the other had, specifically, Leor Zolman's C, was a very high speed compiler, producing machine assembly language files that were readable and tunable for any specific use. In the case of applications that needed high performance, and great User Interface experience, speed was a key factor. Considering the operating system and applications needed to fit in 64 thousand bytes of memory and be run by an 8 bit processor at 4 megahertz, the core issue was that challenge.
There is some purity to that approach. Only code what's necessary, be sure you understand what the machine is doing, and when. Imagine today's machines running at 1,000 times the clock speed, and with data and memory paths that are 8 times wider.
Apple's X-Code sets the standard for development environments, and much of what we do would be impossible without thread debuggers, visual UI designers, gcc compiler, tools and libraries, and we use that and portability libraries to assure our work is available across many platforms.
During the early 1980s, Unix on small systems began a revolution. More and more connections could be made among computers using telephone lines and modems to connect to one another. At data transfer rates starting at about 40 characters per second - the old 'tele-type' standard, to 100 times that speed, engineers, students and hobbyists were connecting to one another, exchanging messages, files and texts. By 1980 UUCP powered the connections among many Unix systems. Richard Stallman started the GNU project to develop a totally free Unix operating and development system. The work of the Free Software foundation produced today's GNU Unix environments including the Linus Torvalds branded 'Linux' kernel. in 1991 Torvalds used Stallman's C compiler to write code that would run exclusive of an Operating System. This native application was much like any appliance application, it loaded into memory and ran. It was a terminal emulator, so he could login to Unix systems. Eventually Torvald's terminal emulator would have a file system and be able to run multiple tasks, be released under the GNU license and with the help of GNU developers be the GNU/Unix Richard Stallman's Hurd project had set out to deliver.
1993 Dallas, the Lunch Bunch got together monthly and discussed interconnecting Unix and Internet services. For 5 years, people could connect up to neisse.comsys.com and get a complete Usenet newsfeed, email and other batch services. My operating system of choice was running on a 386 IBM PC and it was SCO Xenix. Thousands of Internet nodes were actively exchanging large batches of Usenet News, Email and text and files. Slightly larger groups used Sun's Solaris Operating System and computers to manage their internet services.
In December of 1993 FreeBSD was released and a free-ware version of Unix, unencumbered by AT&T patents on Unix System V, was made available in the free software world. Along with the Free Software Foundation's GNU compilers, editors and utilities, FreeBSD became the defacto standard for many small engineering firms, and startups.
As the world of communications stabilized in 1996, with solid operating system choices from FreeBSD and its variants to GNU/linux and its variants, as well as many commercial successes such as Sun Microsystem's Solaris.
In 1996 the Internet was commercialized and privatized, the US Government turning over a booming research, development and operations network to private companies. This was the single largest conversion of public money to the private sector, producing an explosion in the US economy and, because of the core values of the developers of the internet in 1988-1996, that is, no commercial interests, it was free from the chattel associated with the negative parts of a private, profit based economy.
While some bemoan the loss of such purity, the benefits continue to move society and economics forward. The self-interest of businesses should, in theory assure things improve. Open competition and free enterprise were the hallmarks of the Internet commercialization period 1996-2000. In the late 1990s, a breed of entrepreneur arrived in the communications scene that had short-term self interest in mind, and thus a series of 'bubbles' began in the US and later global economy. Bubbles are artificially inflated expectations foisted on unwary investors, and the public, producing massive wealth transfer and little else.
Today's Internet economy is often connected by broadband mobility, and consolidation in this market is creating national and global risks which need to be managed by policy and public education.