1995 "Understanding The Internet" by Andrew Cochran Associates, Halifax NS





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Published on May 12, 2015

Today Andrew Cochran is Dean of College of Continuing Education, Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia, and as of 2014 the new Strategy 2020 Planner/Manager at CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Back in 1995 Andrew Cochran Associates of Halifax, Nova Scotia, got the idea to do two documentaries about the World Wide Web 4 years after it's public debut in August of 1991. I can't find these documentaries anywhere on the Web, and I thought it seemed appropriate to upload them to Youtube in 2015, 20 years after they were made by Andrew Cochran and broadcast by PBS-Discovery Channel.

"Understanding The Internet" is Part 1, "Using The Internet" is Part 2.

The first documentary, "Understanding the Internet", says that in 1995 an estimated 30 million people were using the World Wide Web, with almost 6,000 newbies starting to use it every hour. About 1 % of the global population in 1995. The first billion was reached in 2005, 2nd by 2010, and the 3rd billion users by 2014.

These now 'historic' documentaries are quite fascinating to be reminded by, or for most web users these days to learn from, what the Web was like in it's early years back in 1995. VIPs include such notables as Tim Berners-Lee, a bunch of other early co-creators and pioneers, including some from the even earlier pre-internet-web days of Arpanet as a defence against global nuclear war.

How I wound up with these documentaries on original VHS tapes from Andrew Cochran may interest some people.

I got my online start in 1983 with BBS's, Bulletin Board Systems, using Commodore 64s, Apple IIs, and a Tandy TRS80 portable laptop computers. My background was in construction Mechanical Contracting, and I'd just finished a one year college program that included learning how to use those then relatively new Personal Computers. In 1985 I launched my own construction industry oriented BBS, later migrated it to the largest BBS that ever existed, Canada Remote Systems, and then to the Internet in 1991-2, when I helped get the Toronto Freenet going. I still have my original Toronto Freenet email address active to use - aa028@torfree.net

It was just after the Toronto Freenet opened to the public that the World Wide Web burst into existence, and I quickly migrated my online construction services concept to it, as "Construction Online", one of the first construction oriented sites on the Web. I dreamt big, of going global, and soon becoming a billionaire.

But even then, as the Web grew like a prairie grass fire, it was still a real tough nut to sell the concept of online construction services to the construction industry. Few in the industry could comprehend "online" let alone my "Construction Online". So when these two Internet documentaries came out in 1995, I saw them as a terrific way to educate construction people. I contacted Andrew Cochran in Halifax and explained I wanted to purchase rights to play them privately to groups of construction people, and he sold me the rights to do that for about $ 600.

Well, the documentaries didn't help my cause. Construction people back then were just too thick headed and still not yet "getting it". Other than inspiring Southam Communications of Canada to build it's own $ 200 million online service without my involvement that eventually went bankrupt years later for lack of customers, the only other time I came close to making it rich with my "Construction Online" was when a guy from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with the same idea contacted me in 1996. We formed a partnership that began with Canada; the U.S.; Italy; Spain; and Venezuela. We got 6 of the biggest U.S. materials manufacturers interested, and everything was looking very rosy -- for a short while. Turned out the big U.S. companies typically wanted to take it all over, maybe have a 'Canada desk' at the U.S. HQ, or more likely not even bother with that much, and naturally kick me out altogether. I didn't sign the papers, and the deal died. I put the documentaries tapes in the closet and forgot about them.

But somehow, thru a lot of life's changes and moves, I managed to hang onto these 2 documentaries, and I now figure 20 years later is a good time to share them with any interested people.

I hope you enjoy watching them, remembering or learning the way the Web was back in 1995, and learning a few things you didn't know about those early days.

They present a rare and unique look back at a very historic time, when and how the world changed forever.

cheers, eh
steve hartwell


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