Image courtesy of Vintage-Computer.com.
Psychologists talk about imprint memories, like how some of our older citizens remembered exactly where they were when President Kennedy was shot. I've been thinking about this whole Egypt thing and suddenly remembered where I was when Egypt's then President Sadat was assassinated.
I was a news junky even back then. I was in college, my junior year. On that day, I was in the Salisbury Laboratories of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and I remember seeing the reports on a TV. By the way, back in the first decade of the 20th century, this was also the building where rocket pioneer Robert Goddard would fire off test rockets in the basement, often sending professors and staff running for fire extinguishers! Fun place.
Anyway, Sadat was assassinated and Mubarak became President. The year before, I had been turning in my assignments on punch cards. Back then, we still used them in Fortran class. The Apple II was available for use in the Math Lab, and I was building a CP/M machine in my dorm room based on a relatively new Altair 8800.
Mubarak has been in office since the days of CP/M. He's been in office since before MS-DOS 1.0 was released.
Mubarak had been in office for three years when the original Macintosh came out, when Apple declared that 1984 wouldn't be like 1984.
Mubarak had been in office for four years when the original version of Windows was released in 1985.
Mubarak had been in office for seven years when Steve Jobs founded NeXT in 1988, his somewhat misguided attempt to sell computers to college students for the base price of $6,500.
Mubarak had been in office for eight years when the Intel 486 processor was released in 1989. If he were an American president, that's when he would have retired and gone on to a happy life of board memberships and speaking tours.
Mubarak had been in office for nine years when Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented HTML, the concept of the URL, and the HTTP protocol in 1990.
Mubarak had been in office for ten years when Linus' first release of Linux hit the scene in 1991.
Mubarak had been in office for 13 years when Netscape was founded in 1994.
Mubarak had been in office for 17 years when Google was founded in 1998.
Mubarak had been in office for 23 years when Facebook was founded in 2004. Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg was only 21 at the time, having been born a few years after Mubarak took office.
Mubarak had been in office for 25 years when the first Twitter tweet was tweeted back in 2006.
Mubarak had been in office for 26 years when the first iPhone was released in 2007.
And, Mubarak has been in office for almost 30 years now, in 2011. Facebook has more than 600 million active users -- almost eight times the entire population of Egypt.
It's curious, when you think of the current crisis in Egypt in these terms. Would someone younger -- someone who didn't get his current job back in the days of CP/M -- would that someone have better realized just how self-destructive it would be to cut his nation off from the Internet?
Let's be clear about this: Mubarak took office two years before the founder of Facebook, the company causing the bulk of the disruption in his country, had even been born.
Because, without a doubt, Mubarak's actions are more destructive to his nation than anything else. The economic impact, alone -- not to mention the complete destruction of trust -- will have a lasting impact on Egypt.
Most citizens of the world hold Egypt in our hearts as one of the world's oldest and greatest civilizations. This week, we saw the old guard fight back against the disruption enabled by new technology.
But Internet technology cannot be squelched. It's now part of the DNA that runs our world. Mubarak may have been able to turn the Internet off in Egypt temporarily, but he will soon learn that a network designed to route around nuclear destruction will make short work of a leader who took office back in the days of 8-inch floppy disks.