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Chapter 1. Replacing Web Pages with Appl... > A Short History of Internet Applicat...

A Short History of Internet Applications

Not only will this be a short history, but the history on which this history is based (the Internet) is short. In fact, personal computers have only been around for a few years. I have to mention the story of a student of mine who was previously unaware of the fact that personal computers were relatively new. He just figured they had been around forever—relative to his young age, they had been. Apparently, he had seen a television program about the start of Apple and Microsoft and was amazed that these machines he had grown up with were scarcely older than he was. The point of this digression is that I don’t know your background. As a way to show where Flash fits, I’m going to lay down some historical markers—many of which you may already be familiar with.

Milestones and Killer Apps

Considering that an Internet application intends to achieve many of the same tasks as any computer application, it’s probably good to look at software history generally. The concept of a “killer app” is worth mentioning here. The idea is that any system (for instance, hardware or operating system) will only succeed provided there’s some killer app—an application so desirable that it warrants investing in the underlying operating system. A perfect example is Visicalc (the first computer spreadsheet program shown in Figure 1.1). Visicalc helped make the Apple II an attractive system. Perhaps even more profound is how various systems or standards have fallen by the wayside—not because the technology was lacking, but because no software attracted people. For instance, several video game consoles have failed because they lacked good games.


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