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As Strong As Maxwell By Dr. S. K. Chakravarty, CGM, Calcutta Telephones

James Clerk Maxwell’s mathematics laid a solid foundation of radio science which remains unshaken even 144 years. An equally stronger and much simpler concept of mathematics defined by 0 & 1 laid the foundation of a concept known as digitalization which revolutionised the world of computer and communication of our time. Today we are familiar with Buzz word in convergence. Voice, data, TV signal are digitalise and transmitted over the same physical medium in principle. In the present scenario sending voice and data through the same physical media is very common. In the access network connecting an individual user triple play is also a reality. Triple play indicates voice, data and TV signal being transmitted simultaneously through the same pair of copper hitherto being used for conventional voice or voice and data only.

Telephone is over 120 years now. This versatile instrument started getting popularity after Alexander Graham Bell patented the instrument and promoted it to business communities. In contrast computer became popular following pioneering release of APPLE-II home computer in 1977 and release of IBM PC in 1981. But computer was a tool popular amongst the person knowing programming till the first version of Windows Operating System was launched in 1985. The rise of the Window enabled PC is historical landmark. Suddenly ordinary people without knowing programming started using computers. When PCs enabled millions of individuals to store their contents – word, text music, data, photo, voice, video etc. in digital form, in the natural instinct of human beings intention to share them far and wide were intensified. Every ‘1’ and ‘o’ is known as bit. Whereas a set of 8 bits is called a byte. The marriage between communication and computer was initiated in late 80s to create global information revolution in early 90s. What happened that time? In the late 80s common people started connecting dialup modem in their PCs to transmit the digital content in their computer world wide through global telephone network. Telephone network was really global by that time. In late 90s Window enabled PCs started dominating breakthrough in the connectivity by push more and more data at less and less cost. The most outstanding event that happened at that time of internet as a tool of low global connectivity. Internet was a magic where individual could post their digital content for everyone else for access. The father of this revolution was Tim Berness – Lee. He should be placed in the platform of the great masters of science and technology, he is almost a contemporary personality of our time.

The internet was primarily a domain of researchers – an obscure academic project till the concept of world wide wave (www) was developed by British Scientist Tim Berness – Lee. Internet became alive as a tool for anyone, and not only any researchers academician contribution of Berness – Lee to popularize internet is so huge that www and internet are sometimes used interchangeably although they are not same. To understand the difference let us see as Time Berness – Lee himself explained on his own website.

“The Internet (Net) is a network of networks. Basically it is made from computers and cables. What Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (the inventors of the Internet) did was to figure out how this could be used to send around little ‘packets’ of information. That’s what the Internet does. It delivers packets – anywhere in the world, normally in well under a second. Lots of programs use the Internet: electronic mail, for example, was around long before the global hypertext system I invented and called the World Wide Web.”

And what is the World Wide Web? What is this amazing cyberspace that has become a kind of parallel universe? Berners – Lee explains: “The Web is an abstract (imaginary) space of information. On the Net, you find computers – on the Web, you find documents, sounds, videos…information. On the Net, the connections are cables between computers; on the Web, connections are hypetext links. The Web exists because of programs which communicate between computers on the Net. The Web could not be without the Net. The Web made the Net useful because people are really interested in information (not to mention knowledge and wisdom1) and don’t really want to have to know about computers and cables.”

Like some great masters in radio science mentioned in these books Berness – Lee also studied physics at Oxford and then discovered the new world of micro processors and joined in electronics and science industry. In 1980 he joined CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Switzerland where he created the foundation for an universal system by developing www. In his lecture before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Berness – Lee explained the philosophy of his mind in the following words “the special grade we extend to the www comes from a long tradition that democracy have all protecting their vital communication channels. We nurture and protect our information networks because they stand at the core of our economies, our democracies and our cultural and personal lives. Of course, the imperative to assure the free flow of information has only grown given the global nature of the internet and wave. As the Federal Judge said in defence of freedom of expression on the internet: “The internet is far more speech enhancing medium than print. The internet may fairly regarded as a never ending worldwide conversation”.

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