Much of history never gets written down because it seems so overwhelmingly obvious at the time, that people fail to make note of it. The purpose of this node will be to write down some aspects of the internet that may be too obvious to have been noticed before, as well as put out some slightly less obvious ideas.

I have had the idea for this node for a while, but yesterday I came upon a trigger that made me realize how important it was. At Free Geek, we get many antiquated computer books, and yesterday I found the Que guide to computer hardware, 1994 edition. Although we know computers were much slower, and much more expensive a decade or so ago, I was surprised to see by how much. Wheras today, an expensive consumer grade computer will probably be not much over a thousand dollars, in 1994 (based on this book), the cheapest computers were around that price. That was for 386s. 486s were worth even more. Monitors were extra. Modems were mostly external, and you would be spending over one hundred dollars for one of those, too.

Between 1994 and 1999(or so), something happened that turned computers from an expensive item confined to businesses, universities and wealthy hobbyists into a staple of not only middle class life, but an omnipresent presence for most of the world's people. This was, of course, the internet. Of course, many are going to point out that "the internet" is not an application, it is a protocol, and a few bearded road apples are going to point out that they were using the internet in 1982, but for most people, the internet came to mean the world wide web, e-Mail, and a small number of other user friendly applications. This is the internet I am referring to. The technology behind not only the internet, but the graphical user interface that made it into a friendly experience, had been around for a while. Intel's introduction of the Pentium processor was already in development, as was Microsoft's development of Windows 95. It was access to the world wide web that made these so attractive that the middle class could start buying expensive computers, leading economies of scale into play, which quickly dropped the price of computers, further bringing in more people, and dropping the price until by the late 90's, the internet had spread everywhere. It was a very rapid growth, something we may have forgotten, even though we know it.

So, my first obvious idea is that the "internet" (or intarweb, if you prefer), and the GUI that it needed, was what made Intel be able to mass produce chips and create economies of scale that turned computers into a household item.

My second idea, somewhat less obvious, is that since the internet, no other "killer app" has occured in popular computing. There has been multimedia, broadband, file sharing, wireless, home entertainment and many other advancements to the world of popular computing, as well as a corresponding growth in processor speed, RAM, harddrive capacity, and many other such things. However, the growth since then seems to have been steady rather than exponential. And despite people's increased hardware, the computing experience is about the same as it was in the late 90's. When I was working technical support in 1999 and 2000, a Pentium or a Pentium-II computer was standard, with a clock speed from 166 to 300. The memory installed was usually around 32 or 64 megabytes. Most computer users today have five to ten times those numbers, but are still using the internet and their computers in the same way as they were in 1998. While the computing experience may be richer today than in 1998, it is not the order of magnitudes more complicated than 1998 was to 1990.

It could be possible, probably within a few years, of putting 64 or 128 bit super processors in every household object, and hooking them all up with a wireless network powered by psuedo-artificial intelligence. It would also perhaps be possible to develop quantum computing, or photonic processors, or nano-machinery. There are many possible technical advances that could be made, and that could sweep the world in a short time, that have not been made either because someone has not invented, or the public has not become enchanted with, a "killer app" for them, that would lead to the widespread usage of personal computers the way the internet did. When and where this will happen remains to be seen.

Frederick leaned his head out of the door as little as he could and scanned the horizon. The streets were empty. Dead. The world was gone and he seemed to be the only person. There was nobody alive and everything was in ruins. The few scant houses that hadn't been burned to the ground -- or the few buildings that hadn't been reduced to dust-ridden rubble -- were smashed out and desicrated as if they'd undergone a siege of the Gods. It appeared as if Zeus himself had melded ten thousand lightning bolts and struck every square inch with fire. Frederick cringed and pulled his head back into the door. What had caused all of this disaster? What had ruined humanity? What had murdered by hand the last few remaining survivors? Frederick collapsed on a chair in the corner of the room. He put the crowbar at his feet and sighed. What was it that had made Frederick scared for his life? Afraid of every step he might make?

It was Internet. Frederick tried hard to remember where it all began.

Internet was born sometime in the early nineteen-nineties. Things were much more calm then. The only thing mankind feared was Nuclear War. The Middle East was in constant turmoil and, bizarrely enough, Frederick now would wish it could be that way again. Frederick now wished that everything could possibly return back the way it started. With no computers. With no Internet.

It all seemed so harmless back then. People would use Internet for recreation. People would use Internet for pornography. People would use Internet to research. They used Internet to talk to people in other parts of the United States, in other parts of North America. They used Internet to talk to people all over the world. Internet was so useful and harmless. Internet was so friendly and dignified. Internet was the way of the future! But what happened? What had caused Internet to betray it's creators in such a horrible fashion? What had caused Internet to go on a rampage and destroy the human race?

Internet was tired of being used.

At first people didn't know what was happening. Government claimed it was an epidemic. There was a disease, they said. Something was killing humans off. A scientist claimed it was an extreme flu virus, so everyone ran to get their flu shots. Another scientist said it was the city air, people flocked to the country. An old farmer who knew nothing about science said it was technology that was killing everyone. Nobody listened to his pleas for a return to an agricultural society. Everyone thought he was crazy. People said he was just jealous that they were getting along just fine without farms.

It didn't stop. The flu shots didn't work and people started dying all over the world. Researchers tried to find a center for where the disease might be coming from. Some thought Thailand, others Mexico. By the time people figured out what the real culprit was, it was too late. Internet had severed all communication by then. Nobody would be using Internet. Internet made sure of that.

Frederick started crying. Internet had taken everyone from his life. The collapse of humanity had been imminent, and only by his wits had he survived. Was he the only one? He hoped not, but he might never find out.

Through his sobs, Frederick didn't hear the flicker of a monitor turning on. Frederick didn't hear the whirr of fans. Frederick didn't hear the orchestra hit of Windows '35 turning on. Through his sobs, Frederick could only feel Internet crushing his skull. Frederick could only feel his brain being turned into mush.

As Frederick felt the squeezing pains in his head as Internet slowly crushed his last breaths out of his body, he thought one last truth. Humanity may have used Internet for whatever they liked a year ago, but Internet would never be used again.

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