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

Miles Fidelman mfidelman at meetinghouse.net
Sat Aug 20 16:16:33 PDT 2016

I remember doing a few projects based on gopher - back in the early 1990s.

I kind of wonder if the web would have just been one in a series of file 
sharing technologies - progressing from FTP, to MIT Tech Info, to 
Gopher, to the Web, to <something else> - if it had not been for Marc 
Andreessen (Mosaic) and and Robert McCool (the NCSA deamon that became 
Apache) at NCSA.

Miles Fidelman

On 8/20/16 6:37 PM, Dave Crocker wrote:
> On 8/15/2016 1:35 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
>> 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.
> I don't recall numbers, but I do recall that gopher pre-dated the web,
> by enough to give it a first-mover advantage.  (Most of the other
> efforts at the time were on search, not publishing; at that point
> Anonymous FTP was still deemed sufficiently worthy... sigh.)
> Gopher initially had the major advantage of being usable with random
> text files, while the early web only worked with html files.  Hence
> gopher worked with an existing, large base of documents while the web
> did not.
> Gopher's long-term disadvantages were that it didn't support other types
> of files and it didn't give content with each key-click, while the web
> could.  That is, the web was multi-media. Also it could do something
> useful each time you clicked on a link, while with gopher you always had
> to walk down a sequence.  Only the terminal node had content.
> By the way, gopher taught me what the Internet would be like.  I was
> giving a class about Internet protocols in 1990, in Pittsburgh, and
> included a demo of gopher.
> There was a page that gave a list of different parts of the world and I
> asked the class where they wanted to 'go'.  Someone said 'South Pacific'
> so I clicked on that and we saw Australia and New Zealand.  Someone said
> New Zealand so I clicked that.  Then Wellington.
> Then things got interesting, because I saw "Town Council", rather than
> reference to something geeky.  So while sitting in Pittsburgh, I pulled
> of the Wellington New Zealand Town Council meeting minutes of the week
> before.
> In spite of working on the net for nearly 20 years I hadn't fully
> understood where it would go until that moment:  if that sort of thing
> would be posted, everything would be.
> A few years ago I had my first trip to Wellington and gave a
> presentation.  I told them the anecdote and so I got to thank the
> audience for teaching /me/ what the Internet would become.
> After the session, a fellow in the audience (John Houlker) came up and
> asked whether I'd like to meet the guy who put those pages up on the net
> in 1990..
> I had the great privilege of having dinner that night with John Naylor
> who is quite a delightful fellow.  He'd worked for the city power folk
> back then and thought it quite natural to string a metropolitan area
> network around town using the power lines...
> d/

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.  .... Yogi Berra

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