Historian of the Online Digital Revolution

By Regan, Tom | The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

Historian of the Online Digital Revolution


Regan, Tom, The Christian Science Monitor


David Carlson wants to make sure your grandchildren's children will know what it was like to have a Prodigy account back in the late 1990s. He also wants them to know who invented e-mail, how videotex worked, and how people first got online in, say, Spain. You can find answers to many of these questions at "David Carlson's Online Timeline" (http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/carlson/professional/ new_media/).

Professor Carlson was founding editor of the Electric Trib of the Albuquerque Tribune in 1990, when it was one of two newspaper- operated electronic systems in the world. He is now director of the Interactive Media Lab at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications in Gainesville.

"The reason I wanted to do the timeline is that I believe we are in significant danger of losing this chapter of publishing history," he says. "Online media has no atoms, no paper record. There are just bites and bytes."

"I wanted people in the future to know what it was like to use Prodigy at 2,400 k.p.s.," he says with a laugh (most dial-up lines today work at 56,600 k.p.s.).

Carlson's online timeline starts in the early '60s with the American launch of Medlars, the Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System, one of the world's first computerized information systems. …

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