Thursday, September 29, 2011

Matisse Enzer's Glossary of Internet Terms in 2008 and 1994

If you go to, you can see a "Glossary of Internet Terms" assembled by Matisse Enzer. The version that I read online today was last updated on December 25, 2008.

However, I was going through an old notebook and found a hardcopy verison of this glossary from 1994.

Times have definitely changed.

Back in 1994, Enzer included a definition for a "56K Line," an "Ethernet" that could handle "about 10,000,000 bits-per-second," and a "T-1" line that "is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video." The "Bandwidth" definition notes that "Full-motion full-screen video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second" (emphasis mine); at the time Enzer hadn't experienced full-motion video.

Well, the 2008 version doesn't even include a "56K Line" definition any more, and the "Ethernet" definition has been updated to mention 100-BaseT.

The 1994 edition mentioned things such as the WELL (Enzer worked for the WELL at the time) and the Mosaic browser. The entry for "BBS" notes that "the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe gets crossed at some point."

The 2008 edition includes terms that Enzer may not have even conceived of in 1994, such as Applet, Blog (Weblog), Broadband, Cookie, IPv6, and other terms. The 1994 edition didn't define anything beyond a megabyte, while the 2008 edition includes gigabyte and terabyte. (No petabyte, though.)

And there's one item in the 2008 version that wasn't seen in the 1994 edition, even though it clearly existed in the 20th century:

CATP -- (Caffeine Access Transport Protocol)
Common method of moving caffeine across Wide Area Networks such as the Internet
CATP was first used at the Binary Cafe in Cybertown and quickly spread world-wide.

There are reported problems with short-circuits and rust and decaffinated beverages were not supported until version 1.5.3

Despite all of these changes, there is a lot of commonality between the 1994 and 2008 editions. Despite some changes (such as IPv6), much of the backbone of the Internet spans the entire fourteen-year period, and in fact in some instances goes back to the decades before 1994. And the 2008 edition continues to mention some technologies that are no longer used much if at all, such as Archie, BITNET, and Finger.

I'm sure that Enzer's glossary has helped many over the years, and I hope that he continues to maintain it for years to come, so that people can learn what a sortabyte is.
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