This Week In Techdirt History: November 30th – December 6th

from the adventures-and-misadventures dept

Five Years Ago

There were plenty of (mis)adventures in the world of newspapers this week in 2009. Some were trying out paywalls, Rupert Murdoch was demanding the feds stay out of the news business (except when he wants their help), Dallas News made the questionable decision to make journalists report to ad sales managers, some students were blocked from publishing their school paper in Illinois, and a brand new daily newspaper in Detroit lasted only a week before shutting down.

This week we were also still tracking the UK’s Digital Economy Bill pushed by Peter Mandelson, which was already facing opposition from some politicians and tech companies, and spurred one indie label boss to resign from BPI and IFPI committees. In a follow-up to Dear Lilly, friend-of-Techdirt Dan Bull released a new open letter, Dear Mandy:

Ten Years Ago

In a recent history column, we talked about the fact that Bill Gates was getting 4-million spam emails a day in 2004. Well, looking back on posts from this week ten years ago, it appears that wasn’t quite true: Steve Ballmer admitted he was exaggerating, and the number is actually 4-million a year.

Also this week: we got yet more evidence that speed cameras don’t work and saw some of the hilarious excuses people use to get out of the tickets; we continued following the murmurs about global satellite projects following Google’s purchase of Keyhole (that would lead to Google Earth); we pointed out that telco talk about “voice, video and data” is stupid, since all three are just data; and we mused about the future of music distribution online, since the idea that subscription streaming services might replace digital downloads was gaining steam.

Finally, this week in 2004, Techdirt got a big mention in the Wall Street Journal (and the article is still there but, alas, behind a paywall).

Fifteen Years Ago

As the world drew closer to the year 2000, not-actually-millennium-fever pervaded the culture, leading Wired to go maybe a little too in-depth on the subject of 2000 not really being the start of a new millennium. Speaking of Wired, this week in 1999 also saw the launch of the Vapourware Awards, though sadly the link in that post is one of the few that seems to no longer be working on Wired.

In the news world, it was a simpler time: classified ads were still going strong, and some papers had the bright idea to charge a premium to include a URL in an ad. At least one person in the book publishing world had a better idea of what was happening: a major name at Random House was predicting the ascendence of electronic publishing. Everyone was wondering what the killer app for wireless internet would be, not to mention the associated codes of etiquette.

Forty-Five Years Ago

Well, this is a big one: on December 5th, 1969, just over a month after the very first ARPANET message was sent, the entire original four-node network was established. It consisted of routers at UCLA, UCSB, the University of Utah, and the Stanford Research Institute. Within a few months the ARPANET would connect to the East Coast, and by 1981 had over 200 host computers with a new one connecting every 20 days.

BONUS: Five-Thousand Three-Hundred And Fifty-Four Years Ago

Okay, it’s not much of a Techdirt topic, but it’s rare that you get to go back over five-thousand years and still pin something to an exact date, so let’s enjoy it: though it’s not universally accepted, there’s a stone in Ireland that appears to depict the oldest human record of a solar eclipse, which took place on November 30th, 3340 BCE. The archaeological and astronomical evidence is an interesting read (if you’re into that kind of thing).

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