This Week In Techdirt History

from the randomly-accessing-memory-lane dept

Time for another look back at Techdirt history:

Five Years Ago...

In 2009, the infamous Joel Tenenbaum filesharing case was in progress, and Charles Nesson had just revealed plans to attempt a fair use defense which, as many noted at the time, was destined to fail — but oh how different today would look if downloading had been deemed fair use five years ago. Of course, five years ago the record labels were also trying to bring down the Pirate Bay, an equally unachievable goal that they continue to struggle futilely with today.

This week in 2009, we were still examining the recent decision that ordered Google to pay $1.6-million in back streaming royalties to ASCAP, based on an arbitrary calculation that highlighted just how much of a mess royalties can be. A more personal music dispute was also unfolding, with Coldplay and Joe Satriani locked in a fight about copying that was heavily influenced by amateur musicologists and fans. There was plenty of fighting happening outside the realm of music, too: attorneys general were grandstanding against Craiglist as they are wont to do, and Blizzard was getting aggressive with trademark C&D letters long before its recent campaign to go after hackers.

Ten Years Ago...

Blizzard provides an interesting transition to 2004. It was in November of that year that World of Warcraft came out and revolutionized the world of MMORPGs — but a few months prior, on this week in 2004, we were wondering if the decline of EverQuest (remember EverQuest?) indicated that such games were hitting a wall because of their lack of appeal to casual gamers.

Meanwhile, you can find early roots of plenty of modern trends ten years ago this week. Not too long after the introduction of .biz and .info, but before the rollout of .mobi, Tim Berners-Lee was arguing against new TLDs. He lost the .mobi battle and then, if I recall correctly, was proven wrong when .mobi became the most popular TLD in the world, which we all continue to use and love to this day. Er, right? At the same time, we were discussing the huge success of online pizza ordering (and though I don't think it came to Canada for a couple more years, it's a convenience I confess to using far too frequently) and the return of internet grocery stores (which were still struggling but beginning to find their legs, long before the days of Amazon Fresh). It wasn't just a week of internet trends either: we also noted the growth of often-pointless motorization to make everything from razors to pot scrubbers vibrate and oscillate.

Not every trend was destined to continue, of course: these were also the days of attempts at "paid search", and Lycos (remember Lycos?) was trying to compete with Gmail.

Fifteen Years Ago...

This week in 1999, long-since-forgotten The Mining Company changed its name to, and an internet fixture was born. SETI released its distributed computing screensaver in an early example of crowdsourcing long before that term was in use, and the world learned that Microsoft had a 10-man team dedicated to learning about Linux.

In the device world, the Palm VII was launching, but perhaps more interestingly, so was an early device we described as "a PDA that doubles as a portable MP3 player". To quote Mike at the time: "now, they just need to add in a phone."

200 Years Ago...

Around this time in 1814, German glassblower and physicist Heinrich Geißler was born, and would go on to develop some of the earliest glass vacuum tubes. His designs and techniques evolved into neon lighting, the tubes used to first discover the electron, and the vacuum tube technology that paved the way for the entire world of electronics, broadcast and computing.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), May 24th, 2014 @ 4:02pm

    The funny thing is, I would pay for a music service like Pirate Bay - probably more than I now pay for music (or even more than I paid pre-internet). If only the RIAA had embraces such a service instead of fighting it.

    Of course, it would have to stay just the way it is, with all the music ever made and not just what the RIAA deems good enough for public consumption, and no tiers and gimmicks to try and extract more money from the public. That's not likely to ever happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jake, May 24th, 2014 @ 4:50pm


    Last.FM would have suited you until the end of last month. Wish I'd dropped that little development into the submission box now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    zip, May 24th, 2014 @ 7:11pm

    an early device we described as "a PDA that doubles as a portable MP3 player". To quote Mike at the time: "now, they just need to add in a phone."

    I can't believe the patent trolls missed that one (Or did they?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    haiku, May 25th, 2014 @ 5:29am

    100 years ago: the first Leica camera

    ... was designed.

    Happy birthday Leica !

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:08am

    I Leica a lot!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 9:09am

    TB-L was right about .biz and .mobi

    Both are completely overrun with spammers, phishers and other abusers. Best practice is to use DNSRPZ to permanently blacklist them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2014 @ 7:14pm


    Many years ago when Napster was around I used to buy music. I bought music I liked on principle, to support its creation. That was also before I knew how corrupt the law is. Ever since the RIAA went after them I generally resisted paying for music or software. While I generally also try to avoid infringing I would rather infringe than to support those that benefit from our broken laws (though I admit to buying textbooks or certain books. There are some other exceptions). Until the laws are fixed - until copy protection lengths are much shorter - I will resist buying protected products.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re:

    Last.FM is the only streaming service I've used. But what happened last month?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), May 27th, 2014 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re:

    Same here. I have to look up if a band is on an RIAA label before I will buy them. I keep waiting for the dinosaurs to die but they're still around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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