What did we do before going digital?

Leah McLaren in this article in The Guardian ponders a time when our attention was allowed to wander. Below an extract with the key steps in our lives becoming digital

Let’s go digital

Key developments that changed the way we communicate. By Hayley Myers

1971: Email Ray Tomlinson was responsible for electronic mail as we know it, choosing the @ sign to connect the username with its destination. Today, it’s estimated there are 3.9 billion email users.

1992: Phone texting British engineer Neil Papworth sent the first SMS – ‘Merry Christmas’ – from his computer to the mobile phone of Vodafone’s Richard Jarvis. Handsets didn’t include keyboards then, so Jarvis was unable to reply.

1997: Chat rooms Talking to friends (and strangers) in chat rooms dominated the late 1990s. The rise of other internet technologies saw their popularity plummet in the following decade, taking the ubiquitous a/s/l abbreviation with it.

2004: Social media Whether a place of meaningful connection, a worrying echo chamber or both, Myspace and its successors created an era where likes, influencers and filters reign supreme – despite recent concerns over privacy and data breaches.

2005: YouTube YouTube’s first ever video, ‘Me At The Zoo’, was uploaded by the channel’s founder Jawed Karim. It’s since been viewed 73m times, paving the way for cultural moments, such as ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’, skateboarding bulldogs and Justin Bieber.

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