29 August 2010

The Earliest Internet Memes

On the Web Site, Know Your Meme, I proposed that the earliest Internet Meme possibly started in 1982 when graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science grad students, Mike Kazar, David Nichols, John Zsarnay, and Ivor Durham, connected the CMU Coke machine up to the Internet. They wanted to be able to check the machine for cold Cokes before they run up and down stairs only to find an empty machine.

As time went by, more and more soda and coffee machines were hooked into the Net.  When I first got hooked into the net in the early 1990s, I heard about the soda machines connected to the net and Telnetted into various University's computers to check for myself.  These machines were already legendary, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one checking on their Coke Machine Status.

It seems as if the Internet Memes time line on dipity agrees with me. The first two entries are William Gibson's book, Cyberspace, which is a name that people adopted for the Internet; and The CMU Internet Coke Machine. Also the same year, the time line claims that the First Emoticon :-) was created on Sep. 19. The smilie meme also came from Carnegie Mellon University. Scott E Fhlman claims credit for the First Smilie.

The Internet was slower in those days, plus there were fewer Netizens. The best way to get on the Net at the time was via a University, and I was lucky that my school system hooked into UNM's internet. Memes spread a little slower than the lightening fast viral memes of today, but nonetheless, once people were congregating on line, silliness was bound to ensue. More Links about this topic:

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1 comment:

Alex Arlington said...

I'm doing an article for a website on the modern culture surrounding memes. Of course, when I searched for the start date of the use of internet memes your blog post came up and helped immensely. Thanks.

I would like to ask a question though:
What exactly do memes, as a culture/art form, mean to you?