in the Media
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on the internet – a brief history
By Graham R. Jones, March 2005
One of the great images
of World War II is of Hitler peering through field glasses
at the white cliffs of the Kentish coast
in England. Although just 21 miles separate England and France
at the narrowest part of the English Channel, it is a stretch
of water that since even before Roman times has represented an
almost impassable chasm. Even today the average English person
separates Britain from Europe. Europe is that place the other
side of the Channel!
When I started
racing in the 1960’s
and becoming aware of the world of professional cycle racing
I was living in Kent
and about 50 miles from the French and Belgian coasts at most.
Normally we would not get to see images or read reports of
the great Tours, Classics or other important races for weeks
sometimes months. The British press sometimes grudgingly sacrificed
one or two column inches to the Tour de France.
speaking cycling enthusiasts about the only English language
magazine was the venerable Sporting Cyclist, a black
and white production largely written and produced by that
that great journalistic pioneer the late Jock Wadley. On rare
cyclists that had been to France would bring back copies
of the ‘Mirroir
du Cyclisme’ and the ‘Livre d’Or’.
Dog-eared copies of these prized magazines would circulate
the club. It
was within these pages that I saw my first color images from
the European racing scene. I was fascinated by the photographs
of Bahamontes, Gaul, Anquetil, Poulidor and the peloton against
the backdrop of great mountain ranges. Equally powerful was
the tremendous photography that captured bunch sprints on
Velodrome or the all out effort across the cobbles of Flanders.
the 1970’s and 1980’s we started to see an
increase in the availability of English language cycling
publications. TV also allowed us rare views of our heroes
in action. Unfortunately
today, unless you live on mainland Europe, you are still
at the mercy of the TV stations and cable channel providers
of accessibility to the big races.
In 1990 Tim
Berners-Lee, an English researcher working at the famous European
center CERN, in Meyrin
in Switzerland, invented the world-wide-web (or WWW).
This was basically
a commercialization of the highly restricted web networks
that were limited strictly to military, academic and
catalyst for the web was the space race which reached fever
pitch in 1957 when Russia beat
space by launching
the very first orbiting satellite, Sputnick. Part of
the US response to that was to greatly enhance the
sophistication of its research
capabilities and almost immediately ARPA (Advanced
Research Projects Agency) within the Ministry of Defence was
ARPANET linked hundreds of top scientists, sub-contractors
and other top American institutions through a computer
In 1962 John
Lickliderp, an MIT scientist, published his first memorandum
on the "Galactic
Network" concept... a futuristic
vision where computers would be networked together
and would be accessible to everyone. It was Tim Berners-Lee
turned that vision into reality.
the WWW for public use in 1991. Official records show that
there was just one web site in
1991. By 1992 there
were 50 web sites but now the number of hosts
(computers logging on) had reached one million. In 1994 Pizza
Hut entered the
history books when headlines declared “Yes!
You can now order pizza on the web.”. Pizza
Hut, of all companies, opened the flood gates
of commercialization on the web. Even so, in
were still only 10,000 web sites. Today the best
estimates put the number of web sites at around
60 million with no end in sight
to the dramatic growth. In parallel with this
the number of web enabled computers exceeds 300,000,000
worldwide and this too
is rapidly growing.
an early adopter of the potential offered by web technology.
remember sitting in
my corporate cubicle
in the USA back in 1995 totally enthralled by
the first (I think) live reports from the Tour de France.
how a reporter out on the road and in the mountains
could deliver ‘live’ race
reports every few minutes complete with digital
photos. Obviously the reporters had satellite up-links
that made this a reality.
What a tremendous exploitation of technology. Unfortunately
the main reason that I can pinpoint the date of
this memory is because
some of the first photos that came on to our screens
were of the tragic scene of Fabio Casartelli lying
on the side of the
road. Later there was great regret at publishing
these photos and since then web publishers have
become less hasty in posting
2005, we experienced another great step forward in web technology
recently launched Cycling.TV to bring us streamed
TV images over the web. It is believed that the
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne were the first races to
be shown “live” on the web.
What a treat it was to watch Belgian TV’s
lengthy and excellent coverage of these events
without advertising breaks. The icing
on the cake was to see George Hincapie win the
K-B-K on this historic web occasion.
things can only get better for the cycling
connoisseur. Image quality of the streamed
will improve along
with other technical aspects of web technology.
The concept of the
virtual global village will make total access
to your favorite cycling events a reality.
Already there are
web sites offering cycling related information.
Over time we
you to many of these sites.
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and the indifferent sites. In this way
we hope to ‘reveal’ sites that
you were not aware of and thus help you enrich
your cycling experience.