Books written by Ray Sullivan

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Nearly New Apple Sells For 400,000 Euros

A computer is found and the internet is lost, or so it seems.

In fact, two computers have been found recently, both dating back to the dark ages and both apparently in reasonably good working order. 

The first computer to show its resilience is the one that Sir Tim Berners-Lee used to create the internet back in 1990.  I'm not sure what make it is, reports just mention that its stored in a glass showcase in the CERN facility where Tim was supposed to be searching for sub atomic particles but was just goofing around on the internet instead - so much has changed, don't you think?  If he'd waited a few more years he could have just Googled for the answer to life, the universe and everything.  That would've put paid to his day job.

Anyway, the guys at CERN decided a little while ago that they ought to celebrate the invention of the World Wide Web, hence the purchase of a glass case.  They also decided to see if the machine would boot and it did.  Then someone realised that while the hardware was interesting, what was more important was the first web page - so a quest was launched to find that.  Mind you, the Large Hadron Collider is out of commission for a couple of years while the mechanics have it on jacks, so I guess the rest of CERN are just twiddling their thumbs right now, so it's nice they've got a hobby.

It seems that the first web page - which consisted apparently of a few words and some links, again so much has changed - cannot be found.  But hang on, if it was the first webpage, what were the links to?  I think that now the Higgs Boson has been found (in a drawer in the admin wing, apparently) then the scientists at CERN should devote the next ten years to answering this question.  Whatever, they can't find it and it seems they lost the whole of the internet in 1992 as well.

Given the money we spend on CERN and the intellectual prowess of those who work there it seems a little surprising that they can lose the internet, but they've fessed up and apparently they did.  Mr Berners-Lee was globe trotting trying to hawk the idea of a World Wide Web in 1992 and was carrying what amounted to the totality of the web at that time on a stand alone hard drive. And it was lost, somewhere in California.  That was probably the last time the whole internet would fit on a hard drive, now it seems improbable it would fit on a planet, but somehow it does.  Mind you, if we had to lose the internet again today, California is still the most likely place to do it.

The other computer to be found is an original Apple 1 computer, built around 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac and even has Woz's signature on the motherboard.  Being built in the second half of the Seventies it is unlikely to be hiding the fledgling internet, but then again I wouldn't be surprised as virtually everything else about the early Apple products were 'borrowed'.  OK, Woz improved an existing computer design and both he and Steve Jobs provided a full hardware interface, which was an improvement on the competition back then.  Apple were good at borrowing ideas - they didn't design the first spreadsheet but by gum, it made them popular.  And that Windows, Icons, Mouse & Pointer (WIMP) interface that Jobs whinged about Bill Gates nicking for years on end was stolen from Xerox by Steve himself, shamelessly.

Of course Apple is a different company now.  Steve has gone and Woz has retired, probably due to RSI from signing millions of iPads.

Anyway, the Apple 1 was sold at auction last week in Europe for nearly $375,000, which is even pricier than its original selling price of $666.66.  We shouldn't be surprised at the price, Apple products are always expensive. What's more, it appears that like the computer Tim Berners-Lee used, it still works.  Now, if only that hard drive could be found and connected to the Apple 1 then the ultimate time machine would be made - the first Apple, holding the whole of the internet.  Now that would be a sight worth seeing.


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