Who coined or originated the term or phrase "Surfing the Internet"? What is the origin of "Surfing the Internet"? Who invented surfing the Internet? Some sources credit me! But here's what we know so far....
First Use in a Published Article (1992) To the best of my knowledge I am credited with the first published use of the phrase. This is due to an article titled "Surfing the Internet," published in the June 1992 monthly magazine, Wilson Library Bulletin. (Wilson Library Bulletin, v66 n10 p38-42, Jun 1992 or ERIC document EJ447456) I think of this as version 1.0. WLB has now ceased publication, but it was a popular monthly professional magazine for librarians, and was published by the H.W. Wilson company. Read about about how I came up with the title.
Subsequently I updated and expanded the article and released the electronic file for FTP download December 3, 1992 as version 2.0 (closely followed by 2.01 and Dec. 15's version 2.0.2). It quickly spread around the world after that. We put up a version 2.0.3 update in May, 1993.
Other Early Use in Printed Publications (1993-1995) Because I am a librarian, I did extensive searches for early uses of the terms "Internet" and "surfing (or surf or surfer)" in print media. In 2001 I searched DIALOG@CARL newspaper archives, many of which go back into the early 80s. Here's what I've found. My Wilson Library Bulletin article was first, June 1992. Then there's a gap of a year. The San Francisco Chronicle first used it on June 1, 1993 This article also states that worldwide, "The number of people hooked to the Internet has grown exponentially -- from about 2,000 in 1981 to about 15 million today." USA Today, Aug. 17, 1993 InfoWorld Sept. 20, 1993 PC Week Nov. 15, 1993 Boston Globe, Nov. 23, 1993 "Internet surfer" Halifax Daily News, Dec. 1, 1993 New York Times, Dec. 8, 1993 "to surf the Internet" Washington Post, Dec. 18, 1993 "to surf the Internet" Seattle Times, Dec. 21, 1993 Washington Post, Jan. 16, 1994 Computerworld, Feb. 14, 1994 Times of London, April 24, 1994 "net-surfing" San Jose Mercury News, April 29, 1994 "surfed the Internet" St. Petersburg Times, May 1, 1994 San Jose Mercury News, May 22, 1994 Charlotte Observer, June 30, 1994 Internet World July-August 1994 Atlanta Constitution, July 24, 1994 San Francisco Examiner, July 24, 1994 St Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 17, 1994 "Internet surfer" Network World Aug. 29, 1994 Roanoke Times, Oct. 8, 1994 Business Times (Asia- Pacific), Oct. 10, 1994 Newsday and New York Newsday, Oct. 19, 1994 Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 21, 1994 Richmond Times-Dispatch Nov. 6, 1994 Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 7, 1994 Madison Capital Times, Nov. 15, 1994 Los Angeles Times, Dec. 18, 1994 Byte, Jan. 1995 The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 1995 Detroit Free Press, Feb. 4, 1995 Miami Herald, Feb. 5, 1995
Early USENET Surfing Although my article was independently conceived and written in the early months of 1992, and submitted in mid-March, others were thinking along the same metaphorical lines. A handful of earlier uses have turned up in Usenet archives, recently made available by the search engine Google. <http://groups.google.com />
Mark McCahill, father of the Internet Gopher protocol, can be credited with first known Usenet usage of the exact phrase, "surfing the internet." [Ed. Note: For the record, I didn't have Usenet access at the time I wrote my article back in 1992, so I never knew of Mark's use of it until 12-12-01, when I read about Google's new expanded Usenet archive.] Mark's post: " 24 Feb 1992 by "Mark P. McCahill" Newsgroups: alt.gopherView: .... There is a lot to be said for...surfing the internet with gopher from anywhere that you can find a phone jack....."
On Dec. 12, 2001 I informed Mark of his "first post" rights. He said, "I can tell you why I used the phrase. One of my favorite sports is windsurfing, so 'surfing' is never far from my mind... that and extending the 'channel surfing' metaphor to the internet because we thought that browsing was an important way of finding information. If you have ever seen my garage (I think there are 8 or 10 sailboards there) or my office (1 board) know why I would say something about surfing the internet."
A few days earlier than McCahill's original post, on February 18, 1992, Charles Bailey posted to bit.listserv.pacs-l and wrote about the "virtual library." He said, "Doing it right seems to imply building a library-wide network of microcomputer workstations that is linked to external networks (e.g., the campus LAN and Internet). It also implies providing local servers (e.g., networked CD-ROM databases, OPAC, and locally mounted citation, full-text, and multimedia databases) and 'seamless' connectivity to remote servers (e.g., remote OPACs, CARL UnCover2, and OCLC FirstSearch). Creating an easy-to-use interface to these diverse heterogeneous resources will not be a trivial task. Even if we don't try to fully support users as they 'surf' the networks, end-user support costs will increase as the library provides access to a growing number of information servers."
There's also use of the term "going net-surfing" which turns up in a June 6, 1991 comp.admin.policy post by Brendan Kehoe. "...Here's a question: how do other people deal with users that they *think* are doing no-nos around the net? One of our users had the habit of occasionally going net-surfing and doing the hit-and-run type of attempts (trying 'guest' usually)..."
In January 1992, Kehoe released Zen and the Art of the Internet <http://www.cs.indiana.edu/docproject/zen/zen-1.0_toc.html>, arguably the first Internet guide aimed at non-techie end users. It does not talk about "surfing the net" at all. Kehoe used the words "explore" and "search" and "use" when referring to what one did on the Internet of that era.
I have not found earlier usage of surfing (surf*) and the Internet (*net) on the Usenet archive at Google, but it's possible that there are some in there that have so far escaped my extensive searches.
Surfing Information Long before these early USENET posts, people were speaking of surfing information, and in fact I reference my venerable Apple Library Users' Group mousepad, as the item that gave me the idea for my own article. I wrote about how I came up with "Surfing", called the Birth of a Metaphor.
Steve Cisler, who worked at the Apple corporate library in Cupertino, California, writes, "Bob Jacobson talked about surfing information, and that predated 1989. At least, I got the idea from him and then did the 'information surfer' mousepad, t-shirt, and [it was also my] job title."
Paul Saffo writes and says, "I heard the phrase 'internet surfing' here in the [Silicon] valley as early as the late 80s shortly after I wrote my July 1988 Personal Computing column which mentioned 'information surfing.' I can't recall when I first saw 'internet surfing' in print outside of email and the hacker community, but I definitely ran across the term way before 1990."
Saffo continues, "In addition, as I mentioned, 'information surfing' was being heard around the valley for over two years before I mentioned it in my column in July 1988 Personal Computing. I used it as a title for numerous speeches in the same period (including at Apple) and mentioned it frequently until the term became so commonplace that I dropped it from my vocabulary in the early 90s."
Parting Thoughts Before we surfed the net, folks mined it, navigated it, explored it, used it, or cruised it. So who really came up with Surfing the Internet?
I suppose I can take some credit for popularing it, because it's clear that "Surfing the Internet" really began to take over as the term of choice after I released my article to the Internet in December, 1992 for free FTP download. Immediately we had downloads from all over the world—500 in the first 12 hours, as I recall--which was a big deal in those early days.
My article was short enough to be translated into many languages, and it was meant to show people the fun and utility of using the Internet. Over the years I have kept many pieces of correspondence from people who found that early document useful, and took the time to write and thank me. I am happy that my article played a part in Internet history.
Elections for Kids
Published on Sunday, 21 September 2008 01:00
Got questions about the campaigns, the elections, or the candidates? These sites win:
Ben's Guide to the U.S Government for Kids
This site offers an uncomplicated general guide to the U.S. government, including the election process, for grades 3 and up. Younger kids may enjoy the online coloring book and the other interactives, which includes connect-the-dots and maze games. (9+)
PBS Kids Democracy Project
Great overview of how government affects kids' everyday lives, plus a look at voting rights through U.S history. Don't miss the interactive "President for a Day" simulation. (10+)
Rock the Vote
Teen-oriented non-partisan and non-profit that engages and informs young people about their voting rights. Read the Blog, win music if you get your friends to register to vote, and get web banners for your site. (12+)
Homework Help 411
Why not bookmark these now? You'll need them when your homework is due!
General Information on Everything Homeworkspot.com
Dig right in to suggested web sites arranged by subject and age group, plus sigh with relief as you notice links to frequently downloaded items like blank outline maps of the states. Don't miss the writing tips or the science fair suggestions. (9+)
Need a quick word definition, a date in history, or a math formula? It's in here! This fun-to-use site may not answer all your questions but it's a great start! (9+)
This dictionary gives you much more than just the meaning of a word—it lets you hear how the words are pronounced. There's also a thesaurus to help you choose the most exact, accurate, precise, proper, and right word for your essay. Try the link to the "Word Central" site, featuring word games and experiments just for kids. (9+)
Arithmetic and Math Coolmath.com
This site really adds up when you count all its features: tutorials that really do start right at the beginning, plus games to spark your interest in arithmetic and math. (9+)
Math Homework Help
Many short videos on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There is also a very good list of suggested links to other sites. (10+)
Looking for help with pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, statistics, or calculus? Try here. There’s also a section on basic math concepts. (12+)
English, Reading, and Writing English & Language Arts
The Discovery Channel presents short videos on the parts of speech, punctuation, writing and revising, and research skills -- all for grades k-12.
Science Science Fair Central
Possibly everything you need to plan that winning science fair project this year!
Social Studies Stately Knowledge
Pick a state and learn all about it! You'll also find links to encyclopedia articles and each state's "official" pages, including their tourism departments. Most offer free maps and other information that they will send for free! The Internet Public Library's site is also great for researching Presidents of the United States (POTUS) and many other topics. (8+)
The CIA World Factbook
At this comprehensive government site you'll discover facts, flags, and maps of all the nations, territories, and dependencies of the world. There is also information on and maps of the planet's oceans. (10+)
When all you need is an outline map of a country, region, or state, this is your destination. (10+)
Published on Friday, 30 May 2008 11:00
I am really a fan of frogs! I hope you like this little guy! You can click in his window to feed him some flies if you like. Notice he also follows your mouse around.
Exploratorium: Frogs I hope you brought a flashlight. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to track frogs in this swamp tonight. Shine your light over THERE. Oh, it's a carpenter frog. Hear how his call sounds like a person hammering or chopping wood? Hold on, what’s THAT? Whew, just a Pine Barrens tree frog. Um, was that your foot I just stepped on? No? I hope it wasn’t a bullfrog! www.exploratorium.edu/frogs/tracker/index.html