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Episode 66
Featuring Brian McCullough
Brian McCullough joins us for a conversation on, the history of the World Wide Web. The conversation spans the earliest days of the web beginning with the browser and Netscape’s historic IPO that kicked off the greatest stock market mania since 1929. Additional topics include Google, Amazon, Napster, Microsoft, and more.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with serial technology entrepreneur and host of the Internet History Podcast, as well as the Techmeme Ride Home, Brian McCullough. Brian is also the author of HOW THE INTERNET HAPPENED, published by Liveright, a subsidiary of W.W. Norton. In 2014 he was the co-founder of a startup human named Penelope, and in 2016 he launched Maxwell into beta.

In March of 1989, CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal to develop a distributed information system for the laboratory. “Vague, but exciting,” was the comment that his supervisor, Mike Sendall, wrote on the cover, and with those words, gave the green light to what would become the information revolution.

Before the end of 1990, Berners-Lee would define the Web’s basic concepts: the URL, http, and html, writing the first browser and server software. For the next two years the web would remain largely inaccessible to all but the most niche academics and hypertext enthusiasts. “…there was a definite element of not wanting to make it easier, of actually wanting to keep the riff raff out," recalled Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape. His own big idea in the winter of 1992 was the let the riff-raff in.

That opening came in the form of the Mosaic browser, which brought with it two key implementations: the support for images, and, more importantly, compatibility with Microsoft Windows, which at the time accounted for more than 80 percent of the world’s operating systems. Shortly after Mosaic launched in January of 1993, the number of websites in existence could be measured in the hundreds. By the end of 1994, that number had surpassed tens of thousands, and Mosaic was adding as many as 600,000 new users every month. Berners-Lee may have been responsible for creating the web, but it was Marc Andreessen and his team of misfits and geeks at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and soda cans, that took the web mainstream.

Andreessen and his team eventually left Mosaic behind to found Netscape, taking it public in August of 1995, kicking off a 5 year mania of creative energy and enthusiasm that would see the creation of the first search engines, e-commerce platforms, and weblogs. More than seventeen million new websites were created before the end of the 20th century.

In five short years, the Internet craze kicked off by the commercialization of the browser culminated in the bursting of the most spectacular stock market bubble seen since 1929. That story – one predicated on a revolutionary technology and enabled by the dreams, ambitions, and avarice of a generation unrestrained by the prudence of their parents and untouched by the failures of the past – is a history that, until this day, has remained largely untold.

This week, on Hidden Forces, Brian McCullough joins us for a conversation on, search engines, e-commerce, web portals, social networks, and the history of the information revolution.

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Brian McCullough has been in the Internet game since 1998. He was the founder or co-founder of the following companies: WhereAreTheJobs.com, WhoToTalkTo.com, and ResumeWriters.com. Host of the Internet History Podcast and Techmeme Ride Home, he was named to a 2016 TED Residency. He is the author of HOW THE INTERNET HAPPENED, published by Liveright, a subsidiary of W.W. Norton. He is an Arsenal fan; Gator fan; England fan. In that order. In 2014 he was the co-founder of a startup human named Penelope, and in 2016 he launched Maxwell into beta.

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A History of the Internet: From Netscape to the iPhone | Brian McCullough

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