Wayback Machine

Revisiting 20 years of Government Technology magazine.

by / August 31, 2007 0

Our July 1993 issue rocked. Forgive the lack of modesty, but we really nailed some of the day's emerging technologies. For instance, contributor Jim Warren wrote a feature titled The Year of the Internet. Indeed it was. Warren presented a brief yet comprehensive history of the Internet and explained the mysterious new tools that we, a mere 14 years later, cannot imagine life without.

That same issue also featured a story by Tod Newcombe that looked at the future of highway transportation. The article began by describing a scene set in 2013 Chicago recounting a typical morning for a commuter. Newcombe told readers of dash-mounted navigation systems, complete with voice, video, touch-screens and GPS. Now travelers also have access to other tools, such as real-time traffic information, collision-avoidance alarms and automated toll systems that sync with transponders on cars.

There were, of course, some miscues; like the story that promised the Internet would enable widespread telecommuting. The Internet does, of course, make telecommuting an easily achievable reality. Unfortunately it's the employers - public and private - that have not kept pace with the technology.

Our ability to sense the future was unusually well honed in 1993. Our August issue featured a story that predicted many local governments would find themselves "unprepared for their pivotal role in the high-stakes wiring of America's neighborhoods," and the story warned that many could "make mistakes that could plague them for decades."

Contributor David Aden told readers of new audio triangulation techniques that would enable law enforcement to use acoustic data to pinpoint the location of gunshots. Such technology is still making headlines. It was featured recently in our magazine and in the April 2007 issue of Wired.

Also in August, another everyday technology we all know and loathe was reported by news editor Brian Miller. Miller told the story of New York City's Stop Traffic Offenses Program, which was one of the first large-scale red light camera deployments in the country.

One of the more surprising items uncovered when revisiting the August 1993 issue were three little words right smack-dab on the cover: high definition TV. It would be years before the phrase approached anything close to commonplace.

On a curious note, one trend that began with our first issue and would continue into the mid-1990s was what, looking back, seems to be an unhealthy obsession with GIS. When flipping through those old pages, it seems we must have written half of our stories about GIS applications.

As 1993 gave to 1994, the reality of the Internet was setting in. Though quaint in retrospect, the Internet was, for many, truly mysterious. The Net was (and largely still is) a wild, uncensored digital frontier that government struggled to take advantage of. Over the coming years, Government Technology would strive to help government make the transition to an online existence, a challenge we continue to face today.

 

News from 1993-1994
Along with the birth of the Web, the early 1990s heralded another digital revolution. For the previous decade and a half, video gaming was generally considered child's play - save for the occasional quarters spent on Ms. Pac-Man at the local pub. By the dawn of the decade, however, industry giant Nintendo was secretly working on a new home video game console that would be powered by an advanced processor designed by Sony's Ken Kutaragi. Ensuing contract and technology disputes would doom the Nintendo-Sony partnership, however, and by 1993 the two companies had severed all ties. Two years later, using technology developed for the proposed Nintendo-Sony machine, Sony launched the PlayStation, ushering in a new era of immersive, three-dimensional virtual worlds.

In 1994, the dream of traveling by land from Paris to London was finally made possible. On May 6th, the 31-mile Channel Tunnel opened to the public amid global fanfare. Begun in 1987, the Chunnel plunges more than 130 feet below the sea floor and took seven years to complete. Every day, tunnel trains ferry people, cars and freight between Folkestone in the UK and Calais, France. Considered by many to be one of the greatest feats of modern engineering, the Chunnel was completed at a cost of approximately

Chad Vander Veen

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.