Thumbing through issue No. 1 of Network World

Network World 30th Anniversary: Look back at the past issues of Network World as it turns 30.

Network World turns 30

Where it all began, 30 years ago

Network world is turning 30. Don’t be fooled by the “Volume 3, Number 3” printed under the masthead, this was indeed the front page of the very first edition of Network World, dated March 24, 1986. Pre-Internet, of course, it was print-only. The featured front-page story – “Users force LU 6.2 issue” – was written by John Dix, then a senior editor, today our editor-in-chief. We’ve plucked a few other highlights from that issue, including ads, so enjoy the walk down Memory Lane.

Network World turns 30

‘The key word there is users’

This editorial on Page 2 of the first issue emphasizes a point that was already introduced in that Page 1 headline: The user is king. “The tag line underneath the logo on page one reads, ‘The weekly for leading users of communications products & services.’ The key word there is users. Network World’s mandate is to be an advocate for the user: the communications manager.”

Network World turns 30

No surprise

The first advertisement in the first issue of Network World was purchased by a Mountain View-based security company called Digital Pathways. “Who’s Responsible?” blared the ad’s headline. “For the loss of your financial data? Market strategy plans? Personnel data? …This year, an estimated $3 billion of sensitive corporate information will be lost through computer crime.” … Sound familiar? Digital Pathways would change its name to AssureNet Pathways and be acquired in 1997 by Axent Technologies, which was bought by Symantec in 2000.

Network World turns 30

Coverage of Congress

Our first issue included coverage of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, which extended government restrictions on telephone wiretaps to computers. The bill would go on to pass the House and Senate -- on voice votes -- and was signed into law by President Reagan. Note that though the headline uses the familiar word “email,” Network World style at its debut insisted on “electronic mail” in the body of stories.

Network World turns 30

GTE + United Telecom

From their first-issue advertisement: “Recently GTE and United Telecommunications, Inc., agreed to establish a joint venture which would merge their respective long-distance voice and data communications businesses. One result of the proposed joint venture will be the merger of two long-established data communications companies: GTE Telenet and US Telecom-Data Communications (formerly Uninet).”

Network World turns 30

One for trivia buffs

The Internet carries scant details about Comdesign, Inc. of Goleta, Calif., a hardware vendor that placed this ad in the first edition of Network World. That could be in part because in the summer of 1986, Comdesign was purchased by Network Equipment Technologies, Inc., according to the Aug. 18, 1986 issue of Network World, the publication’s 22nd edition.

Network World turns 30

From the cutting edge

A story in the first issue’s “Industry Update” section tells of the rapid growth in corporate network use of central office switches, a growth so momentous that McDonnell Douglas, as the graphic shows, had begun air-dropping them into strategic locations.

Network World turns 30

Big doings in telecom

The big headline in our first “Telecom Trends” section involves AT&T signing a deal “to lease capacity on a New York fiber-optic network that it will use to side-step New York Telephone Co.” However, perhaps more notable is the News Flash above the big AT&T headline, which reads: “IBM is right on schedule with the delivery of its Token Ring Network, which became commercially available last Tuesday.”

Network World turns 30

That was then

When Network World was launched in 1986, CompuServe was powerful enough to convince a company of Visa’s stature to vouch for its expertise in a trade publication ad. Today the name CompuServe – and only the name – lives on under the auspices of AOL.

Network World turns 30

Listen up, kids

Speech recognition was already a thing when Network World debuted 30 years ago, witness this story about AT&T’s Conversant 1 Voice System. From the article: “Fidelity Brokerage Services, Inc.’s experience with speech recognition technology clearly illustrates the plodding pace that technology is taking as it moves from the laboratory toward commercial applications.” OK, maybe not a thing but getting there.

Network World turns 30

Something went wrong with this ad

Remember, the first issue of Network World was published on March 24, 1986. This advertisement from Datagram promises an announcement on March 4 that would shake up the data communications world as the Beetle did the automotive industry. The message stamped in red on the ad would indicate that the mix-up was realized a bit late in the publishing process. These things happen.

Network World turns 30

‘Factory Communication’

Once upon a time, Network World had a “Factory Communications” section. From this story: “IBM is pilot-testing a process application within its Endicott technology plant. The Manufacturing Automation Protocol (MAP) application is designed to give company engineers access to factory floor data without having to leave their offices.” By the way, if you didn’t know, this factory in Endicott, N.Y., was IBM’s first manufacturing facility.

Network World turns 30

Two reliable systems

When you think LAN systems reliability, you undoubtedly think of the solar system, or at least that’s what a company called General Instrument wanted Network World readers to think in March 1986. In 1997, General Instrument split into three companies: General Semiconductor, CommScope and NextLevel Systems.

Network World turns 30

Even without March Madness

Maybe the Internet didn’t bring us wanton time-wasting, after all. From a Network World account written 30 years ago: “The results of a recent survey commissioned by a New York-based personnel agency are anything but surprising. It reported that employees fritter away what amounts to approximately two months out of each year in what amounts to unproductive time.” Glad we’ve got that problem licked.

Network World turns 30

Debate: Integrated PBXs?

“PRO: Integrating voice and data on a single private branch exchange is the choice for savvy users. In addition to supporting higher data speeds than stand-alone data PBXs, integrated PBXs reduce wiring costs, simplify network management and are more flexible in multivendor networks.” On the other hand …

Network World turns 30

Debate: Integrated PBXs?

“CON: Despite all the attention lavished on integrated voice/data private branch exchanges, users are better off with separate switches for voice and data. A separate data PBX provides cheaper, more efficient data communications – and has no negative impact on voice traffic.”

Network World turns 30

Two-page pitch from AT&T

The two-page, full-color spread from AT&T was planted smack-dab in the middle of Network World’s first issue, which weighed in at 48 pages (apparently not counting some of the ads). No, the model is not a young Stephen Colbert, though the resemblance is notable.

Network World turns 30

Someone always blames the network

An HP ad in our first issue asks: “I want to know why the network is down. And I want to know now!” HP, of course, was selling “protocol analyzers” it promised would get you an answer and the boss off your back.

Network World turns 30

‘Even news reporters’

On Page 35 of our debut issue we find a feature headlined: “Getting the facts faster.” Followed by the subhead: “These days, even news reporters are thinking digital.” Yes, even news reporters. This was 1986.

Network World turns 30

If you’d like to see more

There likely exist physical copies of the first issue of Network World – collector’s items, we are sure -- but the images you’ve just seen are screen grabs from the remarkable resource that is Google Books

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