Monday, August 11, 2014

Gopher, Anyone?

Does anyone remember Gopher?


I guess probably not. There used to be this document access protocol called Gopher that people used instead of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (a.k.a. HTTP) that we know and love today. Well, maybe "instead of" isn't the right phrase. We used it alongside HTTP. It was like this other kind of thing you could do with the Internet. It's mostly forgotten now. We almost exclusively use HTTP to access documents over the Internet these days.

It's worth talking about because we often think of the Web (the entity created by HTTP) and the Internet as the same thing. The proliferation of ReST Web Services today as a means of opening up almost any kind of service imaginable over HTTP is increasing the confusion. Maybe because I used to do networking over a 2400 bps modem on a Tandy 1000 computer I don't see the Internet that way.

Tandy1000HX tweaked.jpg
"Tandy 1000HX tweaked"
The Internet is a wide area network of computers and computer-like devices using TCP/IP. HTTP is a protocol on top of that, just like Gopher, FTP, SSH, and a thousand others. Maybe someday HTTP won't be so dominant and some other protocol will find more widespread appeal.

And here's another thought. No one probably remembers using Lynx either. I used that to browse the web in college. Good times. Good times...

I sure could gopher a giant chocolate chip cookie right now. comic for August 11, 2014

Image Credits:
"Tandy1000HX tweaked" by Jesster79 (Non-creditable tweaks by Ubcule) - This file was derived from: Tandy1000HX.jpg . Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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