Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

Saturday, October 29, 2016

On This Day in Boomer History - The Internet Arrives (1969)

On October 29th, 1969, the internet got its start when the first host-to-host connection was made between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. 

Back in 1969, nobody thought the internet would become the lifeblood of our world the way that it has today. Back then it was more of a backup plan. 

The idea was that if there was ever a Soviet nuclear strike, we wanted a way to continue communicating with each other. As a result, it wasn't invented by Silicon Valley techies in their garage, it was made by the military's then-new division, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

They were more trying to create a phone system than anything else, but someone in the UK also had the idea that it would be helpful if you could send "packets" which contained data.

Tim Berners-Lee goes on the long list of people you may have never heard of that absolutely transformed the world. 

He's the guy who invented the World Wide Web in 1989. 

Contrary to what you may believe, the internet and the web are not the same thing. The web is the system many of us use to navigate the parts of the internet that we most frequently use on a daily basis. Think of it as the web linking websites and similar web resources out there, but not what you use when you download apps on iTunes.

Since then, Berners-Lee has worked tirelessly to expand the efficacy of the web and the amount of opportunity people have to use it. He was named one of the TIME 100, listing the most impactful people of the 20th century, and in 2004 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Former Vice president Al Gore has taken so much flack for claiming he invented the internet, you probably believe he actually did it. 

The famous "I invented the internet" quote was part of a rambling monologue he gave essentially laying out his resume in an interview with Wolf Blitzer. 

Then came Declan McCullagh from Wired who saw what Gore said and decided to write about it, jabbing at Gore for claiming to create something that was launched in 1969, when Gore was 21 and nowhere near a position of any authority. 

After that, Gore's political opponents helped push the snowball down the hill until everyone was joking that Gore claimed he invented the internet and even now, over a decade and a half later, you probably still remember this being a thing.

But what Gore was trying to reference was a real thing he did that was incredibly impactful. He sponsored and pushed through Congress the 1991 High-Performance Computing and Communications Act. It was so much Gore's baby that it was known as the Gore Bill

The funding that bill provided had an impact on a number of things including the creation of the Mosaic Web browser. Said Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and a guy who worked on Mosaic, "If it had been left to private industry, it wouldn't have happened, at least, not until years later."
This article 1st appeared in Trivia Today.Com

Friday, October 21, 2016

This Is What We Were Doing Back Then - Wiffle Ball

Like many Baby Boomer males, I was obsessed with sports in my pre-teen years. I could cite statistics and standings for all my favorite Philadelphia pro teams. I played Little League baseball and City League basketball. I spent many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon playing fierce sandlot football games with teams from other neighborhoods.

But if I had to name the sport I spent the most hours playing as a youngster (lasting even into my teen years,) it would be Wiffle Ball.

For those you not steeped in Wiffle Ball culture, the plastic baseball was introduced in 1953, one year after I was born.

The ball was the result of the thousands of glass windows shattered by hardballs rocketed by bats from backyards directly into the window of yours or a neighbor's house.

In fact, the invention of the wiffle was actually inspired by a sideyard baseball game. David Mullaney, who had been a college and semi-pro pitcher, was watching his son and some friends play a pickup game.

Mullvaney began to experiment with coming up with a plastic toy ball that could be used in such games.

After experimenting with different materials, Mullvaney found that a ball made out of thicker materials and injection molded with eight oblong holes worked the best. You could even throw curve balls with such a design.

The name was inspired by the slang word for swinging at a pitch and missing - wiff.

Once the ball was introduced it became wildly successful and the Wiffle Company branched out into making plastic bats and other related logo items.

Unlike many play things of the 50s and the 60s, you can still buy wiffle balls and bats and relive your childhood passion. There are even local, regional, and national Wiffle Ball series.

Check out this vintage Wiffle Ball ad

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On This Day in Boomer History - The Cuban Embargo Begins

On October 19th, 1960, the United States imposed an embargo on exports to Cuba, a now senseless embargo that continues until this day.  

The embargo was imposed because of Cuban leader Fidel Castro's decision to turn the island less than 90 miles from the Florida coast into a Communist stronghold during the height of the Cold War years.

The US government adamantly opposed to trade with Cuba on any level ... well, except maybe one last time. Just before the embargo went into effect, President John F. Kennedy had his press secretary buy as many H. Upmann (his favorite brand) Cuban cigars as possible. That number turned out to be a whopping 1,200. But after that, no more trade.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

The times they are indeed changing.

In what most found to be a surprise, Bob Dylan, the folk/rock bard of the Baby Boom generation, was today awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for 2016.

The nobel committee declared that Dylan, 75, received the award "for having having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

As a Nobel winner, Dylan joins such illustrious American writers as Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner.

Here is a sample of what some were saying today about Dylan's prestigious award:
  • Why Bob Dylan deserves his Nobel Prize (Rolling Stone)
  • Celebrities and authors react to the announcement (Vulture)
  • Award stirs fierce social media reaction (CNN)

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Boomer Birth Years - 1947

Here are some of the big events that happened in 1947, the 2nd year of the Baby Boom.
  • The V-2 rocket is launched into outer space
  • The 1st widely reported UFO sighting is made near Mount Rainear, Washington; in perhaps the most famous UFO incident ever a downed extraterrestrial spacecraft is reportedly found near Roswell, New Mexico, launching the ongoing fascination with Area 51 and givernment coverups of alien encounters
  • The 1st practical electronic transistor is demonstrated
  • The Polaroid Corporation makes the 1st "instant camera.