How The Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone


Brian McCullough, that runs Internet History Podcast, also wrote a novel named How The Internet Happened: By Netscape to the iPhone that did a fantastic job of catching the ethos of the ancient net and telling the backstory of numerous people & jobs behind it is development.

I think the quote that best the magic of the web is

Jim Clark came from the planet of hardware and machines, where development schedules were measured in years–even years –and where”performing a startup” engineered factories, production, inventory, shipping schedules and so on. However, the Mosaic group had stumbled upon something easier. They had found you release it to the ether, code it, could dream up a product and change the world. Thanks to the web, users can download your merchandise, give you feedback on it, and you may release an update, all at the exact same moment. In the internet world, development schedules could be measured in weeks.

The part I bolded in the above quote in the book actually captures what pulled on people toward the web & the magic of the web.

The present net – dominated by endless feeds & various closed silos – really is a significant change from the first days of internet comics & other underground cool stuff people shared & created because they thought it was neat.

By attempting to make something akin to the net of today before the infrastructure can support it recognized players missed the direction of the web. Many of the”big things” driving net adoption depended heavily on chance luck – coupled with a great deal of hard work & a willingness to be more receptive to data & feedback.

  • Even when Marc Andreessen moved to the valley that he believed he was late and he had”missed the entire thing,” but he noticed the constant increase of the internet & chose which makes another web browser was the play that made sense at the moment.
  • Early Amazon review attributes were initially for editorial articles in Amazon itself. As it’s today, bezos wished to start a broad-based Amazon, but realized it could be concentrated off the beginning on novels & capital intensive so he could sell a known commodity with a tail. Amazon was originally built off leveraging 2 publication suppliers ( Ingram and Baker & Taylor) & R. R. Bowker’s Books In Print catalogue. They did smart hacks like ordering as part of their purchase from stock publications, to satisfy minimum purchase requirements, so they could only order what customers had bought.
  • EBay started as a /aw/ subfolder about the eBay domain which was hosted on a residential online connection. Pierre Omidyar coded the auction service in 1995 over labour day weekend. The domain needed sections. After the ISP began charging for a business line, it was switched to a stand alone website just from AuctionWeb. Than listings began to control a commission, it had no formal Paypal integration or anything like that, instead, merchants would email checks into cover the platform share of the sales. Beanie Babies helped improved platform usage.
  • The motive AOL carpet bombed the usa using CDs – in their summit half of all CDs produced were AOL CDs – was that their first response rate was approximately 10 percent, a crazy amount for untargeted direct mail.
  • Priceline was fortunate to have lived the bubble because their idea was to spread broadly across other types beyond travel & they were dropping about $30 per airline ticket sold.
  • The broader web bubble left behind valuable infrastructure like unused fiber to fuel continued growth long after the bubble popped. The dot com bubble was possible in part because there has been a secular bull market in bonds stemming back to the early 1980s debt service payments increased leverage and business valuations.
  • TED members hissed in Bill Gross when he unveiled, which ranked”lookup” results based on advertiser bids.
  • Excite switched down supplying the Google founders $1.6 million to the PageRank technology as a part because Larry Page insisted to Excite CEO George Bell’When we come to work for Excite, then you will have to tear out all the Excite technologies and replace it with [our] search.’ And, finally, that is –in my recollection–where the deal fell apart.”
  • Steve Jobs originally resisted the multi-touch technologies that cellular would rely on, one of those early iPhone prototypes needed the iPod clickwheel, and Apple was contrary to supplying an app shop in any form. Steve Jobs loathed his interactions he didn’t wish to construct a phone & first licensed iTunes where they made the dreadful ROKR phone. He ended up building a telephone later Cingular / AT&T begged him to.
  • Wikipedia was initially started as a back up feeder site that was to feed into Nupedia.
  • Even after Facebook had powerful grip, Marc Zuckerberg kept working on other jobs like a file sharing support. The news feed of facebook has been hated based on the complaints, so they never dumped it, but it led to a doubling of usage of the website. Facebook fought to expand advertising launching up enrollment to all & other companies was a proceed to find out if it would rekindle growth after spreading from college to college.

The book offers a good deal of colour to web companies that are related that are significant.

And businesses which were mentioned ran into the identical kind of lucky breaks the companies that were above did. Paypal was greatly reliant on eBay for initial distribution, but that was something they originally tried to block until it became so evident they stopped battling it:

“At some stage I sort of stop trying to block the EBay consumers and largely centered on figuring out how not to drop money,” Levchin recalls. A lot of the company’s code was being written overseas to reduce expenses, and designers and also the programmers had fled the organization. … PayPal’s conversion rate is lights-out: Eighty-nine percent of the time a customer reaches its checkout site, he makes the purchase. At about 50 percent, this amount sits for other online credit and debit card transactions.

The way the Web Happened: From Netscape into the iPhone is a superb book well worth a read for anybody interested in the internet.

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