People have asked me, “Why did you create BITNET?” Well, the truthful answer is I was envious of ARPANET users. They had access to the most exciting technology at the time. But ARPANET, as you know, was only available to a relatively small group of developers and researchers. And we didn’t know if it would ever be made available to others.
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During all this time, many of you have been involved in developing the Internet and making it the tool of many phases. From academic collaboration, to business and shopping. From social interaction, to democracy promotion. In short, to all feats of human activity. We have gone from the promotion of connectivity to a connectivity-dependent society, and many could feel that the job is done.
My gratitude to the International Center for Theoretical Physics, which in 1990 held the first networking school that was the inspiration for the creation of EsLaRed, and for the continuing support offered ever since to out institution.
It’s kind of exciting to be here. And being the first, but that’s what you get when your name starts with an A, I guess.
I often think back to my life before I started using the Internet. Well basically I had a life. But once I sat down at a Sun workstation at the University of Texas in 1988, I was completely hooked. And I’ve been addicted ever since.
I had a life-changing moment in 1984 that finally got my students excited about learning. Apple launched a program called Kids Can’t Wait and gave every school in California a computer. Unfortunately the computer did not come with software.
Back in 1989 when I was a student at McGill University I developed what became the first Internet search engine. So the predecessor to Google and Bing and all of those things.
The Internet as we know it today wouldn’t exist were it not for the fact that a lot of the organizations and individuals who worked on it back then freely allowed the fruit of their work to be distributed for free.
If you talk with people worried about the evolution of technology one of the things they often comment about is that in many cases the future is quite clear. You can see it coming, but you don’t know how far away it is.
When I first learned about being named for this award, I listened to the acceptance speeches of prior awardees and I noticed the central theme was “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” And in fact I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.