JB’s Circuit—Engineers And Social Media - The Untold Story

By John Blyler

Are engineers really as inept and socially handicapped as many would believe?

It’s popular to put down engineers as geeky and socially inept. In some cases, this stereotype is true. But would you be surprised to learn that yesterday’s engineers were the pioneers of social media—tools and usage—as we know it today?

It’s true. Social media enablers like Twitter, Facebook, Google search and the like had their first prototypes long before the Internet (orginally the ARPAnet) became the Web. The only major difference was the interface. Before Mosaic, the first browser, was available and back when the Internet was first being formed only those who understood the basics of that most cherished of languages—Unix—were admitted to the network.

So how did engineers, the pioneers of social media, communicate on the early Internet? Let’s say you wanted to Twitter a friend, i.e. send him/her a one sentence message. You simply used the “Talk” utility on your DEC VT100 terminal and typed in your message: @TALK (Chris) Where are you going for lunch? Instantly, the message would appear on your friend’s screen. Each message was limited to 80 characters, whereas today’s Twitter is limited to 140 characters.

For longer messages, similar to today’s Instant Messengers, you could use Telnet to open a text application (remember the VI editor?) pull up a file you had written. A little later on, you could

To read more of John’s blogs, please visit: http:// www.chipdesignmag.com/blyler