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27 February 2004 / erikduval

Before the web there was gopher

The IEEE Annals of the History of Computing ran an article on Gopher (the first page is actually not there, but you can get it as the last page of another article… PDF… sigh…)! I really must be getting old: I remember the days when Gopher was better known than the Web. I remember mr. Gopher, Marc McCahil, demonstrating a 3D Gopher client in Graz, Austria. Seems like Mark is now “currently the director of the University Technology Development Center, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota”.

I think that the article rightly points out that the hierarchical nature of Gopher proved too constraining, and that the more flexible hypertext linking in the Web won out. I was until now under the impression that it was the University of Minnesota’s unflexible licensing scheme that was more at the root of Gopher’s demise than anything else, but the author of the article believes this is often overstated. I don’t know… Comments, anyone?

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