“For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life,”
So wrote Wilbur Wright in the year 1900. Some three years later, 17th December 1903, on the wind swept sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and his brother Orvill flew the world’s first powered aeroplane. It lasted a scant twelve seconds and covered just one hundred and twenty feet. The Wright brothers had arrived and so had the age of flight, despite their detractors, the unbelieving, the doubters, the abominable ‘no’ men.
As a child I discovered great fascination in the story but in the age of the De Havilland Comet passenger jet, the Fairey Delta 2 and the U2 spy plane, it was hard to imagine how anyone could have doubted Wilbur and his clever brother – for doubt them they did. Even as a child, I remember thinking how could people be so short sighted and as I laboured with the proposition I can clearly recall wondering if such a thing would happen in my lifetime and if I would witness resistance as they did. Of course I need not have worried. Us humans being what they are, I had it all to come. Colour TV; Video; Fax Machines; Computers; Compact Discs; Mobile Phones; I.Pod; DVD; Blackberry; Blue Ray and the Internet.
Amazingly each one arrived unchallenged with it’s own set of disclaimers – except that is for, the Internet. No one of course ridiculed the internet creators, probably because they were obscure and almost unknown and still are. People like J.C.R. Licklider who was the first to describe an Internet-like worldwide network of computers. He called it the “Galactic Network.” Larry G. Roberts created the first functioning long-distance computer networks in 1965 and designed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the seed from which the modern Internet grew. In 72 and 73, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) which moves data on the modern Internet. If any two people “invented the Internet,” it was Kahn and Cerf – but they have publicly stated that “no one person or group of people” invented the Internet. And so there was no-one individual to attack. The information highway rolled out and today it is still viewed by some as a passing fad. In the absence of anyone person to ridicule their are still ‘no’ men turning on the ‘thing’ itself. They view it with suspicion, classify it as the great evil and totally misunderstand its importance.
But there are lessons to be learned by all of us in comparing the history of flight and the evolution of the internet.
If your in business today, remember that tatty little plane of Wilbur and Orvill’s and get your head around today’s new Airbus SAS A380 which can carry over 800 passengers. Now, if you will, visualise what astonishing things will happen to the internet in the next 5 years, not 105 years just 5 short years. If you’re not convinced, you should be because we are advancing sixty times faster technologically than we were in the 1920’s. For your business sake get on board the internet and fly with Wilbur and Orvill.