Ten Firsts of Modern Technological Era

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By: Rabab Zehra

2020 is the last year of the second decade of 21st century where the integration of multiple emerging technologies has sped up. The frantic adoption rate of digital technologies has changed the way we think and work. Living in a world dominated by artificial intelligence, smartphones, smart homes and much more, tech is a part of our daily life now.

Today, we see how technological wonders have revolutionized the lives we lead but it was not so long ago when these things were unimaginable. We are not sending emails with attachment or using wireless internet since forever. There was someone who had sent the first Instant Message or someone who published the first tweet ever. Following our seeds deeply buried in science and technology, we feel that our lives are like this since forever, but actually ‘There is a first time for everything’.  Below are some surprising firsts of the modern technological era and exciting stories behind them which paved the way for the life we lead today.

1.    The First IoT:

The networked doors, window blinds, electric lights, refrigerator, security system and what not? All these devices communicating with each other through IoT have their roots back in 1980s. Some techies twiddled with a soda vending machine and created history by making it the world’s first IoT device. 

It all started when a graduate student, David Nichols craved for soda in his campus but the vending machine was a bit far from where he was. There was no way for him to be sure, if the machine had enough soda. Another possibility was that if the machine was just refilled, the soda would be warm enough and his drinking experience would be ruined. It was this thought that led him to the idea of being able to control the vending machine through a device or a technology, which was never heard before. Afterward, Nicholas along with his two friends, Mike and Ivor developed the first IoT device which was a coke machine.

2.    The First Cyber Attack:

The world’s first cyber-attack, ‘distributed denial of services’ occurred when a 20-year old grad student, Robert Tappan Morris, son of famous cryptographer Robert Morris Sr. wrote a program that traveled through a large number of internet-connected devices.

The reason behind the creation of this program was the curiosity of Morris to find out how big the internet is and how many devices are connected to it. The program worked well and it became the first cyber-attack in the history of internet.

3.    The First Domain:

The very first .com domain, ‘symbolics.com’ was registered on March 15th, 1985 by a company, Symbolics Inc. Even after 35 years of its formation, this domain still exists and remains the oldest domain out of over 340 million domains in the internet world.

Later in 2009, when Symbolics Inc. was going through a financial crisis they sold their domain to XF.com without disclosing the amount charged. Today XF has turned it into an online museum precisely representing the changes internet has gone through in years.

4.    The First Smart Phone:

‘Simon Personal Communicator’  is billed as the first smartphone in the history of technology. It came in 1992 as the first phone which was small enough to be handheld and was able to receive and make calls. The distinguished features which made it the first smartphone of the history were its touchscreen, ability to send receive faxes and emails. It also had an address book, calendar, world clock, and calculator in it. Correspondingly there were some idealistic applications like maps and news in it.

5.    The first photo on internet:

The very first photograph which was ever uploaded on internet was a shot of a comedy band ‘Les Horribles Berners. The main reason for uploading a photo was to check an updated version on the web whether it supports photos or not. It was uploaded in 1992 as a test image during the development of the World Wide Web by Tim Cernettes.

6.    The First Wireless Internet:

Unquestionably, the expansion of Wi-Fi technology has opened endless opportunities to work faster and smarter. Whether it is about finding the best restaurant in town or knowing the finest places to visit during your next vacation, internet is always there. The 24/7 availability of wireless internet cannot be taken for granted as its access was not always easy. 

It all started in 1971 when a scientist Norman Abramson successfully connected seven different computers wirelessly using a technology called Ultra High-Frequency radio waves (UHF). However, the real revolution took place in late 1990s when Vic Hayes introduced IEEE 802 .11  as International Standard of Wireless Networking which was later named as Wi-Fi. Vic Hayes is also called as ‘Father of WiFi’ by many.

7.    The First Social Media Platform:

Social media is the chief platform for people of all ages now to stay connected with each other. Living in another town or even in a different country doesn’t seem so far now because of constant updates of each other’s lives via social media. Before social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat became accessible to common men, the first social media site has its roots back in 1997. Six Degrees was recognized as the first website on which people could interact with each other. Apart from communicating, it also had features where the users could update their profile and be friends with other users. 

Six Degrees was developed by a company MacroView. It had 3500,000 registered members on it and existed from 1997 – 2001.  

8.    The First Tweet:

Many of us still don’t know that American social networking site ‘Twitter’ was called ‘twttr’ in the beginning which was changed later. The first-ever tweet on this microblogging site was posted by its co-founder, Jack Dorsey in 2006. The tweet said, ‘just setting up my twttr’

9.    The First Email/attachment:

Nathaniel Borenstein known as ‘father of email attachment was the first person who sent an email with an attachment in 1992. According to Borenstein, the idea generated in his mind when he thought of receiving his grandchildren’s pictures on email one day.

The first email attachment had two files in it. The primary one was the picture of his barbershop quartet, ‘The Telephone Chords’ while the subsequent one was of the chord’s recording, ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’. He sent this email to his colleagues.

10.  The First Facebook Account:

You might not know that even the founder of Facebook, Mark Zukerberg had the fourth account on Facebook rather than first. The reason behind this is, the first three accounts were test accounts created by Mark Zuckerberg himself which he deleted later. So, the first real Facebook account with ID number 4 still belongs to its founder.


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