Internet…The Early Days

by | Dec 19, 2021

It was 1978 while my old boss Ray Rikansrud, University of Washington (UW) met with Vint learn about TCP/IP. We were attending the Telecommunications Association (TCA) annual conference at the Town & Country in San Diego, CA.

September was a gorgeous month in San Diego. The TCA Annual Conference was the biggest IT show on the planet back then…

UW was at the center of the Information Age back in the 70s when I worked there with Ray as his telecom manager. It was an unforgettable turning point in my IT career. Ray is to this day one of my very best mentors and a dear friend…

“Lakeside School computer club connects. In 1968, using money from a Mothers Club rummage sale, Lakeside School set up an ASR-33 Teletype terminal for the school computer club. An eighth grader named Bill Gates used the terminal for his first experience in mainframe programming. The computer club was invited by a startup company named Computer Center Corporation (C^3), formed mostly of former UW employees, to test software in exchange for free programming time. Eventually, Gates and Paul Allen, also a Lakeside student, began using UW Medical center and Physics Department computers for free during their slack times at night and on weekends.”

Ray headed up the UW Telecommunications Dept back then. I was his Telecommunications Manager. I loved working at UW, especially Ray. To this day, when Ray calls me, he announces, “this is your supervisor.” And, he still is, always will be. It’s badge of honor of friendship and pride of all the things we accomplished together ❤

It is was here when I was inspired by the rapid acceleration of the Information Age. Ray and I were on the ground floor for all the excitement at UW. It was a dream!

Paul Allen and Bill Gates were there too, and many others with the same passion as us.. “We can do this!” Ray and I couldn’t stop talking about it…

The UW Medical Center campus was Ray’s most impactful project at that time. But, we needed fiber optic infrastructure on campus to make the School of Medicine the best on the planet…

It was the passion, innovation and entrepreneurship that made it happen. It was Ray who inspired me to be a winner!

I’ll share more in the coming days and weeks about UW’s leadshop role in building the Internet and fiber optic infrastructure to make it happen…

This is where the Internet was first built for commercial applications. This is where Microsoft and Amazon started what we know today as the Smartphone and e-commerce.

“The world will change forever” Ray said to me as we left his office late one night back then. I believed him. And, he believed in me…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
View all posts by Steve →

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