January 11, 1994
The Superhighway Summit is held at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It was the “first public conference bringing together all of the major industry, government and academic leaders in the field [and] also began the national dialogue about the Information Superhighway and its implications.” The conference was organized by Richard Frank of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Jeffrey Cole and Geoffrey Cowan, the former co-directors of UCLA’s Center for Communication Policy. The keynote speaker was Vice President Al Gore who said: “We have a dream for…an information superhighway that can save lives, create jobs and give every American, young and old, the chance for the best education available to anyone, anywhere.”
According to Cynthia Lee in UCLA Today: “The participants underscored the point that the major challenge of the Information Highway would lie in access or the ‘gap between those who will have access to it because they can afford to equip themselves with the latest electronic devices and those who can’t.’”
In a March 9, 1999 interview with CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Gore discussed the possibility of running for President in the 2000 election. In response to Wolf Blitzer’s question: “Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley,” Gore responded:
I’ll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. … During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
In a speech to the American Political Science Association, former Republican Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said:
Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet, and the truth is — and I worked with him starting in 1978 when I got [to Congress], we were both part of a “futures group”—the fact is, in the Clinton administration, the world we had talked about in the ’80s began to actually happen.
A November 2014 Pew Research Center online survey found that only 23% of respondents knew that the “Internet” and the “World Wide Web” do not refer to the same thing.
January 12, 1910
Opera is first heard on the radio in what is considered the first public radio broadcast. On January 12, Lee De Forest conducted an experimental broadcast of part of the live Metropolitan Opera performance of Tosca and, on January 13, a broadcast of Enrico Caruso and Emmy Destinn singing arias from Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci.
Susan Douglas tells the story in Inventing American Broadcasting:
The timing of the actual moment of insight remains uncertain, but sometime during the insecure winter of 1906-7, De Forest conceived of radio broadcasting. It was an insight fueled less by a compelling technical vision and more by the desired and longings of the social outcast. During De Forest’s impoverished and lonely spells, he would cheer himself up by going to the opera. Usually he could only afford a twenty-five-cents ticket which bought him a spot to stand in at the back of the opera house. De Forest was an ardent music lover, and he considered unjust the fact that ready access to beautiful music was reserved primarily to the financially comfortable. … De Forest was convinced that there were thousands of other deprived music fans in America who would love to have opera transmitted to their homes. He decided to use his radiophone not only for point-to-point message sending, but also for broadcasting music and speech. This conception of radio’s place in America’s social and economic landscape was original, revolutionary, and quite different from that of his contemporaries… [De Forest] told the New York Times [in 1909], prophetically: “I look forward to the day when opera may be brought to every home. Someday the news and even advertising will be sent out over the wireless telephone.”
In They Made America, Harold Evans continues the story:
De Forest was disappointed in his dream of bringing culture to the masses, especially his beloved opera. In 1933 he denounced “uncouth sandwich men” whose advertisements had come to dominate radio. “From the ecstasies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, listeners are suddenly dumped into a cold mess of ginger ale and cigarettes.” He was still in anguish in 1946. He told broadcasters they had sent his “child” into the street “in rags of ragtime, tatters of jive and boogie woogie, to collect money from all and sundry, for hubba hubba and audio jitterbug.”
Today, the 85th season of Saturday Matinee broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera can be heard over the Toll Brothers–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network. The Met also streams one live performance per week on its website at metopera.org.
January 13, 1946
Chester Gould introduces in Dick Tracy’s 2-Way Wrist Radio, having drawn inspiration from a visit to inventor Al Gross. It became one of the strip’s most immediately recognizable icons, and was eventually upgraded to a 2-Way Wrist TV in 1964.
January 15, 2001
Wikipedia is launched. It has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference websites, attracting 374 million unique visitors monthly as of September 2015. There are more than 70,000 active contributors working on more than 35,000,000 articles in 290 languages.
January 16, 1956
The development of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) is disclosed to the public. SAGE’s use of telephone lines to communicate from computer to computer and computer to radar laid the groundwork for modems. The control program, the largest real-time computer program written at that time, spawned a new profession, software development engineers and programmers.