May 28, 2024

Introduction to T171


The last presentation of T171 was given in February 2005. The OU replaced it with a new course T175, Networked Living, in October 2005. No doubt that has also been replaced. In the meantime I hope that some of these pages will continue to be of use to anyone with an interest in the history of computing and the Internet.

Most of this material was intially written in 2000, when I studied the course, and consists of notes and essays on the development of the PC and the Internet.

I edited and made revisions to a number of pages in 2005, added new material and updated many of the links. Consequently many of the references made to "current", or "recent" developments, will no doubt be outdated and therefore need to be seen in context.

The scope of the course was considerable. Looking back on my notes, I rediscovered the Xerox PARC story. I recalled my admiration for Wozniak and Jobs' development of Apple. Ultimately though, it is the impact made by Gates and Microsoft that impresses. The story of the PC is surely the story of Microsoft.

And the Internet? What began as a project by a group of computer scientists and engineers working for the US Department of Defense, has radically changed the lives of millions. Its reach expands without faltering, its global impact barely comprehensible. The story to be found here is indeed a fascinating one.

However, much of the content in this section will also seem antiquated, and time will surely hasten this process. But I think that is a good reason for maintaing these pages, as they offer a snapshot of a time when the likes of Bill Gates appeared to be all powerful.


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