The world is a wonderful place and in our mind, it’s made even better by the technology, gadgetry and modern marvels that surround us.
To celebrate all this wonder we’ve put together some interesting facts about tech, gadgets and the history of the web that you might not know. You might be surprised and amused by what we’ve found.
The first photo on the World Wide Web
This is the first photo ever posted on the World Wide Web and it’s over 20 years old. The image comes from CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the same organisation that famously discovered the Higgs Boson particle.
It shows an all-girl comedy band that was created from secretaries and partners of the CERN scientists. This image was posted online as a promotional piece and features some fairly shocking Photoshopping, but marks a fantastic piece of history.
This is the computer that was used to create the web
Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee is the man famously credited with creating the World Wide Web in the late 1980s. It was this machine, a NeXT computer, that he used as the world’s first web server. He also used it while working at CERN to code the world’s first web browser known as WorldWideWeb, in 1990.
The original Space Jam website is still live
1996’s much-loved film starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny might have grossed over $230 million worldwide, but the real highlight is the fact its website is still going. Marvel at all its marvellous glory.
If you are old enough to remember and love Space Jam, then you might be pleased to hear there’s a sequel in the works set to release in 2021.
“A jiffy” is more than just an expression
The phrase “in a jiffy” is often used as an expression of time, but it’s much more than that. It’s actually also a unit of time.
It’s used in several scientific spheres for measuring time. For example, in computer engineering, a jiffy is the length of one cycle of the computer’s system clock (roughly 10 milliseconds). Meanwhile, in the physics world, it represents the amount of time it takes light to travel a distance of one centimetre.
Email is older than the World Wide Web
Electronic mail was invented by Ray Tomlinson in the 1960s. It wasn’t until a couple of decades later that the World Wide Web would begin to take shape in the form we know and love today.
The first spam email was sent in 1978 by Gary Thuerk to several hundred users on ARPANET (the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Since then, plenty of nefarious companies and individuals have jumped on that bandwagon, plaguing our inboxes with unwanted junk. They’ve even used smart fridges to help push more out.
Most internet traffic isn’t even real
A study in 2012 discovered that most of the traffic on the internet wasn’t actually people, but was quite often made up of bots, hackers and malicious programs. 51 per cent of all internet traffic is said to be “non-human” in that regard. This traffic is often attempting to steal data, hijack sites, carry out denial-of-service attacks and more. 4
The first supercomputer weighed over a ton
This is an image from 1956 showing IBM’s first supercomputer (the 305 RAMAC). This gargantuan thing had a hard drive which was capable of storing 5MB of data and weighed over a ton. It can be seen here with a forklift loading it onto a cargo plane.
In 2018, the world’s largest hard drive was revealed, clocking in at 100TB – we’ve come a long way with much smaller devices!
The average computer use blinks just seven times a minute
Research suggests that the average computer user blinks significantly less than normal while at their screen. It is said we blink seven times per minute instead of the usual 20. Hence why your eyes dry out more while working in front of a monitor.
Nintendo was founded as a playing card company in 1889
Video gaming giant Nintendo was originally founded as a playing card company way back in the hazy days of 1889. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the company moved into producing toys and then a decade later into video games. This image shows a plaque at the original company headquarters and marks the history of a truly awesome games company.
Hewlett-Packard’s company name was almost Packard-Hewlett
Bill Hewlett and David Packard graduated from University in 1935. In typical fashion for the industry (that would become much more commonplace in the years to come) the two started their business in a garage.
The company was properly formed in 1939, though the pair could not decide on a name and ended up flipping a coin to determine whose name would come first. Thus HP was born, it could have easily have been PH instead.
A Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less
Back in 2010, Google’s researchers used supercomputers and an intelligent algorithm to fathom that any Rubik’s Cube can be solved in 20 moves or less. That research also uncovered that a standard Rubik’s Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different potential configurations.
Some people are scared of tech
Plenty of people have different fears. People are scared of spiders, some of thunderstorms, others of the taxman. But plenty of people are scared of tech too. So much so it even has a name – Technophobia. There’s also “Nomophobia” – the fear of being without your mobile phone and “Cyberphobia” the fear computers. We generally just suffere from FOMO though, the fear of missing out.
The term robot actually means “forced labour”
Robots come in all shapes and sizes and sure we hope one day they might do our bidding and rid us of the most boring, taxing and unwanted jobs of society. But did you know the term “robot” comes from a Czech word, robota, meaning “forced labour”? We just hope they never discover that to be the case as we’re fairly sure that’s when the robot uprising will begin.
Internet killed the radio star
Technology is surely evolving at an alarming rate. The reach of that technology is also changing as it becomes more accessible and affordable.
A demonstration of that is shown by the fact that it took 38 years for radio to reach an audience of 50 million. Television, on the other hand, took just 13 years. In more modern times, the Apple iPod a measly three years and the internet took four years.
Astronaut’s wonderful alternative to life insurance
In 1969, Astronauts embarking on the Apollo 11 space mission hit a bit of a snag when they discovered they couldn’t get life insurance in case the unthinkable should happen. The men obviously wanted their families to be provided for if they didn’t make it back.
They quickly realised that if they did die on the mission, their autographs would probably be in high demand. And thus, these signed envelopes appeared bearing the markings of the significant missions into space that could be sold by their families if need be.
Apple’s Macintosh advert was directed by Ridley Scott
In 1984, the Apple MacIntosh was launched with the help of a TV advert directed by film legend Ridley Scott. This advert, known as 1984 was just 1 minute long and cost around $1.5 million to create and air during the Superbowl. It’s regarded by many as “greatest TV commercials of all time”.
The first television broadcast took place in 1925
Scotsman John Logie Baird is seen here, in 1925, using a ventriloquist’s dummy to broadcast the first television picture. It was a done with a greyscale image in a 30-line vertically scanned format, at five pictures per second. Archaic by today’s standards, but a marvel of modern technology at the time.
We spend around 10 years watching TV
Research from earlier this year suggests that on average, we spend around 10 years of our lives watching television. We wonder how much that it is likely to increase now it’s getting easier and easier to binge-watch Netflix.
There’s a subreddit run by bots
Reddit is surely a wonderful place and there’s a section of the website for every possible whim, passion or hobby. But did you know there’s also a subreddit that’s run by bots? r/SubredditSimulator is managed by bots that use markov chains to create posts based on real-world data. Basically, the bots are trying to mimic posts created by real users. It’s either convincing or hilarious. Take a look and decide for yourself.
Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the Sun
Ok, so this last one is not technically a tech fact, but it is a fact revealed by tech. This is an image of Pluto captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew by in 2015. It was taken at a range of 22,025 miles and yet shows the “true colours” of Pluto. What interests us though, is the fact that Pluto is so far away that it takes 248 years to orbit the Sun. The distant rock was originally discovered in 1930 and yet it still has not looped around the Sun since then and will not complete a full orbit until 2178.
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