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A History Lesson ––>
The Dec. 8, 2014, issue of Bloomberg Businessweek celebrated its 85th anniversary by dedicating the issue to newsmakers over the years. As one might expect, the evolution of technology during this time span made the pages. So
what I am telling you here I have to credit to this issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

World Wide Web. This had its beginnings in 1989 from a computer scientist by the name of Tim Berners-Lee at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. He came up with the idea as a way to help researchers organize and share information through a network of hypertext-linked nodes. But at first Berners-Lee called his idea “Mesh.” It was when he started writing the code for it that he changed the description to the World Wide Web. As we all know, websites in the early days had limited functionality. It was nine years later, when Web 2.0 was introduced, that the Web turned into the dynamic medium that we absolutely cannot live without today.

Microchip. This discovery was made at Bell Labs in 1947. The inventors of the transistor, the precursor to the microchip, were Walter Brattain, an experimentalist; John Bardeen, a quantum theorist; and William Shockley, a solid-state physics expert. They formed the solid-state team at Bell Labs to come up with an alternative to the vacuum tubes used in computers. Shockley was the leader of the team. People and companies playing a role in advancing the development of the microchip were Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, founders of Fairchild Semiconductor. They later went on to form Intel. Texas Instruments played a role in the advancement of the technology as well. The rest is history, as they say.

Google. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Google was founded to organize the world’s information in a universally accessible and useful format. Google has been with us for 16 years, originating from a research paper and now a company with a market valuation of $370 billion. The company reports that people are using Google rather than a URL to access a website. Google is now frequently used as a verb (to Google) and has become mainstream to our way of life.

PowerPoint. This is the product that made 35mm slides and transparencies obsolete — the visuals that were used for meeting presentations. PowerPoint was originally designed for the Macintosh. Then Bill Gates bought the product for $14 million and incorporated it into Microsoft Office in 1990. Some will argue that this is the best thing that has happened to meetings. Others will argue that it is the worst thing that has happened. I tend to be in the middle. My pet peeve is when the speaker overloads the slides with text and then reads the text to the audience. And adding insult to injury is when the point size used is barely legible, particularly to those sitting in the back of the room. I also have a problem with line and bar graphs that are used in a PowerPoint presentation. I don’t think they add anything. In many ways, I think PowerPoint has been abused. But we can’t ignore the fact that it has had a profound impact on the way presentations are delivered.

We’ve come a long way in 85 years. CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at wal@computertalk.com.