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Did Pittsburgh invent the web?


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Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Super Computing Center have had countless technology firsts, way back when in the late 1960's they helped invent what we know today as the internet, being one of the founding "nodes" on the old ARPANET (9 if memory serves Boston, DC, Case-Western, and Stanford among a few others share in that distinction), invented the first emoticon, has been claimed by some to have invented the wired campus and then the wireless campus, computer department at a major university etc. etc.

I have wondered though if what we take as the "web" was actually invented in Pittsburgh on April 24th 1985. The only other contender is the defunct and traded out Symbolics.com (under a half dozen or more owners in the last decades and basically a placeholder site today, with NO site just a year or two ago), as far as .edu's Pittsburgh was the first city in the world with a website and "the web", when you take account of all websites (domains), www.cmu.edu has a strong claim as being the first "true" website, with the much thrown about symbolics (every 3 years or so it gives a 404 error message). Purdue, UCLA and Rice were also registered on April 24th, but CMU always appears before them (tell me this isn't for alphabetical purposes).

Looks like Pittsburgh should toot its own horn about this, like it should about inventing the modern electronic age, as well as the USEFUL lightbulb (love how pop culture rams down our throats that Edison and GE NYC invented the electric power and electronics industry as well as the light bulb we use today, did they burn all the books about Tesla?)


The false first:


The true first:


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You have hit on one of my great passions- bragging about the achievements of Pittsburghers. ( I built my whole website around the idea.)

I am sure that I have posted about this here before, but it bears repeating - Thanks to our Universities, there are many new "firsts" on Pittsburgh's horizon.

Before Wesinghouse (Tesla), electricity was little more than a science experiment.

CMU and Pitt are full of science experiments waiting to become "lightbulbs".

I look forward to reading the list of firsts that you posted.

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Well actually that is correct. IBM's SNA predates the Internet by a decade as SNA has been around since the early 1970s. They had to have a way to hook thousands of users at remote locations to the huge mainframes. I believe the first large scale system like this was the SABRE airline reservation system from the mid to late 60s.

What we are talking about here is a public TCP/IP network and Pittsburg had a hand in that. The World Wide Web, which is a protocol that rides on top of that did not come around until the early 90's.

SNA = Systems Network Architecture

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Metro and Balist, very interesting points, in some ways pinning down the actual birth of the internet is impossible, so much of what we call it today was developed almost simultaneously in several different locations, but I have always seen Pittsburgh as the epicenter of what we know recognize as the internet (connection and websites), the only other area that can claim that is LA with UCLA being a few months ahead of CMU on the node and going "online" with a website (domain name) the same day in 1985.

Metro, not sure what you mean by TCP/IP (which was developed in the 1980's), Pittsburgh was a node since 1971 when they were still using the NCP (the first host-to-host connection) for another 10 or so years, CMU, although not first (UCLA, Stanford and Utah in '69) with a "connection" was in the group of first nodes with the NCP links, basically the first use of modern internet considering that the one in 1969 crashed on the "G" in LOGin.

Here is a good link for the timeline:


Also another fascinating find about the switchover from NCP to TCP/IP in the early 80's from Microsoft archives, seems CMU also played a pivotal role in the transfer:


Interested on other views and stats on this!

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Metro, not sure what you mean by TCP/IP (which was developed in the 1980's),

TCP/IP is a basic network protocol and what the Internet uses. It by no means is the only one out there. IBM's SNA, Microsoft's Netbeui, Novell Netware, Appletalk, etc are all alternatives to TCP/IP. SNA is the oldest one out there however.

TCP/IP is creation for the military which was looking for a network protocol that would survive large portions of a network being destroyed by a nuclear war.

It's generally accepted however the Internet was born on January 1, 1983 when the government started a public TCP/IP network called NSF network. Several older networks migrated to it such as Usenet. The link you provided above for the schools in Pittsburgh were simply registraions by these places to join this network. This was 2 years later when they officially came up with a naming hieracy for the internet.

The Internet would have to wait for another decade for the era of cheap computers and software that made it easy enough to use before it was used by the common person. The first Web Browser and HTTP was invented in California in 1990, but the internet did not take off until the Mosaic Web Browser was released in 1993. Just a year later Netscape owned that market.

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