[ih] Fwd: [Dewayne-Net] The Rise and Fall of the Gopher Protocol

Brian E Carpenter brian.e.carpenter at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 13:35:13 PDT 2016

> the 23rd Internet Engineering Task
> Force (IETF), an elite convocation of academics and government officials
> from around the world 

Um, no. If you look at the proceedings, academic and government officials were
far outnumbered by industry people. I won't comment on 'elite' ;-)

> In the race to rule the internet, one observer noted,
> “Gopher seems to have won out.”

Who, I wonder? I no longer have my copies of The Matrix from that era, but sitting
at CERN we kept an eye on the growth curves for WAIS, Gopher and WWW and I don't
recall Gopher being a clear leader. Certainly, WWW didn't take over until Mosaic
was released, but after that it was no contest. The more interesting sessions
with TimBL at the IETF were after Mosaic.

   Brian Carpenter

On 16/08/2016 06:21, Joly MacFie wrote:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Hendricks Dewayne <dewayne at warpspeed.com>
> Date: Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 9:32 AM
> Subject: [Dewayne-Net] The Rise and Fall of the Gopher Protocol
> To: Multiple recipients of Dewayne-Net <dewayne-net at warpspeed.com>
> The Rise and Fall of the Gopher Protocol
> By Tim Gihring
> Aug 11 2016
> <https://www.minnpost.com/business/2016/08/rise-and-fall-gopher-protocol>
> It was mid-March 1992, and Mark McCahill had never been to San Diego
> before. Back home in Minneapolis, the skies had been dumping snow for six
> months, and would keep at it for several more weeks. McCahill checked into
> the Hyatt Islandia, an 18-story high-rise hotel overlooking Mission Bay.
> “There were palm trees,” he recalls. “Boy, was it nice.”
> McCahill was then in his mid-30s and managing the Microcomputer Center at
> the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, which facilitated the emerging use
> of personal  computers on campus. He and Farhad Anklesaria, a programmer in
> the center, had been invited to address the 23rd Internet Engineering Task
> Force (IETF), an elite convocation of academics and government officials
> from around the world who were literally deciding how the internet should
> work.
> “The gods of the internet,” McCahill says, though in other circles they
> would have gone unnoticed. In his memoirs, another internet pioneer, Tim
> Berners-Lee, describes these gatherings as “people in T-shirts and jeans,
> and at times no footwear. They would meet in different small rooms and talk
> excitedly.”
> The internet then, as now, was a vast array of information stored in random
> computers around the world, only there was no easy or consistent access. It
> was difficult even to discover what was out there — there were no good
> search engines. The most popular protocol, or method of retrieving
> information from another computer, was FTP (file transfer protocol), the
> primitive, labor-intensive equivalent of knocking on someone’s door and
> asking if you could carry away his piano.
> The IETF had been convening since 1986 to iron out these issues, which had
> prevented the internet from becoming the “Intergalactic Network” its
> originators had foreseen, instead remaining the limited domain of
> physicists and the military. But this meeting felt different. For the first
> time, the internet seemed on the verge of going public.
> On March 18, in a conference room of the hotel, Berners-Lee presented one
> possible breakthrough: the World Wide Web. It was evening. Many of the 530
> conference attendees had already gone to the bar or to dinner. To the
> curious who stayed behind, Berners-Lee explained that the Web could be used
> to connect all the information on the internet through hyperlinks. You
> could click on a word or a phrase in a document and immediately retrieve a
> related document, click again on a phrase in that document, and so on. It
> acted like a web laid over the internet, so you could spider from one
> source of information to another on nearly invisible threads.
> Two other programs with the potential to expand access to the internet —
> WAIS and Prospero — were discussed in the same session. In the reports of
> people who saw the presentation, the Web did not come across as the best of
> them, or even as particularly promising.
> The next day, in the light of the afternoon, McCahill and Anklesaria
> presented the Internet Gopher. It was simple enough to explain: With
> minimal computer knowledge, you could download an interface — the Gopher —
> and begin searching the internet, retrieving information linked to it from
> anywhere in the world. It was like the Web but more straightforward, and it
> was already working.
> In fact, most attendees needed little introduction to Gopher — the software
> had been out for months. It was the developers they were curious about, the
> Minnesotans who had created the first popular means of accessing the
> internet. “People we’d never met were telling us how they were using our
> stuff and adding things to it,” McCahill says. “We had no idea how big
> Gopher was going to be until we experienced this firsthand and realized
> that growth could be exponential for a while.”
> In the years that followed, the future seemed obvious. The number of Gopher
> users expanded at orders of magnitude more than the World Wide Web. Gopher
> developers held gatherings around the country, called GopherCons, and
> issued a Gopher T-shirt — worn by MTV veejay Adam Curry when he announced
> the network’s Gopher site. The White House revealed its Gopher site on Good
> Morning America. In the race to rule the internet, one observer noted,
> “Gopher seems to have won out.”
> [snip]
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