The folks over at MIT CSAIL sent me a reminder of an important anniversary in Internet history: The first political website, created for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was created 20 years ago today.
Chris Casey, who was working as a system administrator for the senator at the time, has a nice look back:
On June 2, 1994, the office of Senator Kennedy released a press release announcing the launch of their official website, the first for any member of Congress. It was developed and hosted by the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The same release shared a public email address for the Senator, joining just a handful of Senators accepting email from the public by that point. And it also detailed the Senator’s previous means of online outreach to his constituents, including a network of dial up bulletin boards, ftp and gopher servers, and postings in Usenet newsgroups.
Being old enough to remember, and being able to remember, are two different things. And it’s truly difficult to recall the World Wide Web in mid-1994. Before Amazon.com, craigslist and eBay. Before Netflix, Google or PayPal. Before Whitehouse.gov, and only shortly after Yahoo. Every baby born since is arriving into a much more webbed world than their parents ever imagined. Every minute of the day approximately 255 babies are born world wide. And in that same minute on the World Wide Web, approximately 571 new websites are created.
Kennedy had a long history of technological achievements, but it’s nice to see such a graphical reminder of simpler times.