The Rise and Fall of .Ly

Jon Postel

The Rise and Fall of .Ly” covers some of the not so widely known Internet history, including The God of the Internet, Jon Postel:

Until 1998, the Internet had a “God.” His name was Jon Postel.

Postel was a computer science student at UCLA in the late 1960s. In 1969, he got into the Internet more or less on the ground floor, when he was part of the team that set up the first node of the ARPANET — which would lay the technological groundwork for the modern Internet.

In these early days, computers would refer to each other and the files on them by IP address. The earliest web addresses were strings of numbers, like: If you wanted to reference, access, or communicate with a computer, you’d type in its numerical address. As the ARPANET grew, its moderators compiled a single file mapping memorable names, often pronounceable strings of characters, to IP addresses. This file was named “HOSTS.TXT”, and it was like a giant phone book with every computer’s name and number in it. Hosts made copies of the master HOSTS.TXT. This system got more and more cumbersome as the network got bigger and bigger.

In 1983, ARPANET became a subnet of the early Internet. At around the same time, Postel, along with computer scientist Paul Mockapetris, devised a new system to name the various places of the web. Their invention, called the Domain Name System (DNS), took the role of the HOSTS.TXT file and distributed it across an eventually vast, multifaceted network of servers.

Celebrating Columbus Day …

Just in time for the celebration of the Columbus Day in the USA, links to a few sources (one, two, three) that suggest that the guy was not worthy:

Population figures from 500 years ago are necessarily imprecise, but Bergreen estimates that there were about 300,000 inhabitants of Hispaniola in 1492. Between 1494 and 1496, 100,000 died, half due to mass suicide. In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.

Understandably, some natives fled to the mountains to avoid the Spanish troops, only to have dogs set upon them by Columbus’s men. (Bergreen, 205)

1994 web design from Apple, Microsoft

Jason Kottke links to some examples of the early (circa 1994) web design from both Apple


and Microsoft (still online, by the way)


Quite an evolution we went through!  Here are some interesting bits to notice:

  1. “If your browser doesn’t support images” on the Microsoft one.
  2. Painted grey background, even though that was a default browser background color back in a day.
  3. Microsoft server is NOT running on IIS. Yet. But HTTPS is mentioned already!
  4. I still, in 2015, know multiple so called “web developers” who wouldn’t be able to implement these designs in any sensible time frame (within a day). How rusty are you image maps?

The good old days…

Berlin in 1945 and today

In additional to the video I posted yesterday, here are some comparison images of Berlin in 1945 and today, in 2015.


And this is just a single city from the World War II.  I’m pretty sure most of Europe and half of Russia looked like that.  And these are cities, which survived.  Think of hundreds or thousands of villages that were completely erased from the face of the earth.  Think of tens of millions of people who perished.  All that was just 70 years ago.  And it looks likes we haven’t learned or remembered our lessons.  It’s 2015 and the world is still at war.

“It’s different now”, you might say.  But I’ll argue.  People die the same.  And places are destroyed the same.  Just have a look at some of the images from Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Syria, Egypt … the list of countries grows every year.

Berlin in July 1945

My great-grandfather was there.  My grandfather was there.  My mother was there.  And last year I was there.  Standing in front of the Reichstag building was very moving and emotional.  As was visiting war memorials.

This colored footage of Berlin just three month after the World War II has ended is amazing.  The areal shots at the end of the video of the destroyed city are mind blowing.  Look at all the people involved in restoration.  Look at all the military presence.

Found over at kottke.

First computer – Tesla PMD 85-1

Once in a while people ask me what was the first computer I could get my hands on.  Mistakenly, I’ve often answered that it was Commodore 64.  But today I did some digging and realized that it wasn’t true.  I did use Commodore 64 too, but that was mostly for playing games – my uncle was a head of a nearby Fire Station and he had one of these in the office, but that wasn’t the first computer I used, and it wasn’t the one I learned to program on.  That honor goes to Tesla PMD 85-1.  Here is a picture to give you an idea (thanks to


We had a computer lab in school, with 11 of these things.  10 were used by the students and 1 was for the master station for the teacher.  Some of the highlights that I still remember: black and green monitor, cassette tape drive for loading and saving programs (sorry, no hard drives or floppies, or network really, except for printing on a slow and very load dot-matrix printer), a very uncomfortable yet colorful  keyboard.  The keyboard is worth a separate mention.  As seen above, it had blue, red, and grey keys.  It didn’t have an Enter or Escape keys.  But it had two EOL (end of line) keys right next to each other – I don’t remember why though.  And STOP and RST (reset) buttons.  And it was almost QWERTY.  Here is a close-up image from Wikipedia:


For some reason, I remember the keyboard slightly different.  Those blue K-keys were to the left of the main area, organized into two vertical columns.  But I was unable to find an image of such model, so it must be my memory failing.

When I was back in 5th grade (that must have been … hmm … somewhere around the year 1990), a new Informatics (that’s how Computer Science was called back then) teacher at school opened up an after hours Computer Club, which allowed all students, and not just the high graders access to the machines.  I don’t remember the name of the guy, or how I got involved with it, but I do remember that I got hooked on it pretty much immediately.

A few times a week, we’d stay for an hour or two after classes and learn Basic programming language.  He’d explain to us some basic concepts such loops, conditions, and variables, and then would let us work on our code.  For the rest of the days, I remember, I was walking around with the paper notepad, in which I’d write source code by hand, debug it, test it, and improve it, so that I could spend less time doing so in the lab.  Machine time was limited (an hour or two per session, with some of it taken for loading the program from tape, typing in changes, and saving back to tape), so you’d optimize for using it to actually run the program, verify the result, and, maybe, try one or two more ideas.

If I remember correctly, I worked on these machines for two or three years.  Then, my other uncle, who was the first real IT guy I knew, got me an IBM XT machine.  It wasn’t an original IBM, but a mix of Soviet countries manufacturers.  But that was great!  That was the closest thing to the modern PC – CGA graphics with 4 colors, 640 KB of RAM, 10 MB hard disk, and a floppy drive!  I thought nothing better was possible until I saw a VGA monitor with 16 colors.  I think then I realized that I’ll never catch up to the technology developing so fast.

And one last bit of memory.  Even though I wrote quite a bit of Basic code while learning English in a specialized school, it wasn’t until I came to Cyprus and started learning Pascal programming language in Intercollege, that I realized that all those words I’m typing into the computer to make it do things are ACTUAL ENGLISH WORDS!  Now that was both embarrassing and empowering at the same time…

Oh, good old days.

P.S.: Yes, I’ve played on Atari too at my friends’, but I never owned one of those.