On 5th July 1993, The New Yorker published a cartoon with the caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”. Created by Peter Steiner, the cartoon has two dogs, one of them working at a desktop computer. It became hugely popular being the most reproduced cartoon from the magazine and netted the creator more than $50,000 from reprinting.
With the succinct and astute caption, the cartoon clearly delineates the anonymity one has on the Internet. It shows that you can put on any persona, be anyone you like to be on the Internet and no one will know… at least not immediately. The screens that we sit in front act like masks or curtains through which we can “control” how others perceive us.
I also think that Peter Steiner’s choice of dogs instead of cats, played a small role in making the cartoon so popular. After all, this humble domesticated animal is perceived to be more gentle and less conniving than a cat… even though they seem to rule the Internet now! And you will agree with me that replacing the dogs with people in the cartoon would probably not have made it funny.
FYI, Apple’s Internet applications suite, developed in 1996 for their computers and abandoned a year later, was called Cyberdog. The name was inspired by this cartoon.
The first user of the internet was Charley Kline, a student of the University of California, Los Angeles. He sent the first message which consisted of just five characters - "login". It was transmitted over the ARPANET, the network of the Advanced Research Projects Agency and the precursor of the Internet. The message was sent on 29th October 1969 from UCLA's SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the Stanford Research Institute's SDS 940 Host computer.Technically, at that time, ARPANET wasn't the Internet, as we know it, because it wasn't running the TCP/IP protocol! [more...]