25 March 1995

WikiWikiWeb, the world’s first wiki is made public by Ward Cunningham.

The history of wikis is generally dated from 1994, when Ward Cunningham gave the name “WikiWikiWeb” to the knowledge base, which ran on his company’s website at c2.com, and the wiki software that powered it. c2.com thus became the first true wiki, or a website with pages and links that can be easily edited via the browser, with a reliable version history for each page. He chose “WikiWikiWeb” as the name based on his memories of the “Wiki Wiki Shuttle” at Honolulu International Airport, and because “wiki” is the Hawaiian word for “quick”.

Wiki software has some conceptual origins in the version control and hypertext systems used for documentation and software in the 1980s, and some actualized origins in the 1970s “Journal” feature of NLS. Its distant ancestors include Vannevar Bush’s proposed “memex” system in 1945, the collaborative hypertext database ZOG in 1972, the NoteCards system from Xerox, the Apple hypertext system HyperCard. As was typical of these earlier systems, Cunningham’s motive was technical: to facilitate communication between software developers.

Many alternative wiki applications and websites appeared over the next five years. In the meantime, the first wiki, now known as “WardsWiki”, evolved as features were added to the software and as the growing body of users developed a unique “wiki culture”. By 2000, WardsWiki had developed a great deal of content outside its original stated purpose, which led to the spinoff of content into sister sites, most notably MeatballWiki.

The website Wikipedia, a free content encyclopedia, was launched in January 2001, and quickly became the most popular wiki, which it remains to this day. Its meteoric rise in popularity played a large part in introducing wikis to the general public. There now exist at least hundreds of thousands of wiki websites, and they have become increasingly prevalent in corporations and other organizations.

A distant precursor of the wiki concept was Vannevar Bush’s vision of the “memex,” a microfilm reader which would create automated links between documents. In a 1945 essay in Atlantic Monthly titled “As We May Think,” Bush described an imaginary future user interface: “Before him are the two items to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing positions… The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined… Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn…” This vision, though it has been described as predicting the World Wide Web, resembles wikis more than the web in one important way: the system being described is self-contained, not a loose network.

In 1972 Kristo Ivanov published a PhD dissertation on Quality-control of information, containing a theoretical basis for what corresponds to the wiki-idea, in terms of systemic social interaction. Information turns into knowledge as a net of contributions and negotiations converge about a core concept, or entity. The emphasis is on a dynamically documented “agreement in the context of maximum possible disagreement,” akin to the discussions in talk pages and the results of view history of Wikipedia.

An indirect precursor of the wiki concept was the ZOG multi-user database system, developed in 1972 by researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University. The ZOG interface consisted of text-only frames, each containing a title, a description, a line with standard ZOG commands, and a set of selections leading to other frames.

Two members of the ZOG team, Donald McCracken and Robert Akscyn, spun off a company from CMU in 1981 and developed an improved version of ZOG called Knowledge Management System. KMS was a collaborative tool based on direct manipulation, permitting users to modify the contents of frames, freely intermixing text, graphics and images, any of which could be linked to other frames. Because the database was distributed and accessible from any workstation on a network, changes became visible immediately to other users, enabling them to work concurrently on shared structures.

Three notable hypertext-based systems emerged in the 1980s, that may have been inspired by ZOG, KMS and/or one another: the NoteCards system, developed in 1984 and released by Xerox in 1985; Janet Walker’s Symbolics Document Examiner, created in 1985 for the operation manuals of Symbolics computers; and Bill Atkinson’s WildCard application, on which he began work in 1985, and which was released in 1987 as HyperCard. Ward Cunningham has stated, that the wiki idea was influenced by his experience using HyperCard: he was shown the software by fellow programmer Kent Beck, before its official release, and, in his words, was “blown away” by it.

Cunningham used HyperCard to make a stack holding three kinds of information: ideas, people who hold ideas, and projects where people share ideas. He would later use this same architecture for the Patterns, People and Projects listed on the front page of his original wiki, the WikiWikiWeb Cunningham made a single card that would serve for all uses. It had three fields: Name, Description and Links. Cunningham configured the system so that links could be created to cards that didn’t exist yet; creating such a link would in turn create a new blank card.

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee of CERN built the first hypertext client, which he called World Wide Web, and the first hypertext server. In 1991 he posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup, marking the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet.

Early adopters of the World Wide Web were primarily university-based scientific departments or physics laboratories. In May 1992 appeared ViolaWWW, a graphical browser providing features such as embedded graphics, scripting, and animation. However, the turning point for the World Wide Web was the introduction of the Mosaic graphical browser in 1993, which gained wide popularity due to its strong support of integrated multimedia. In April 1994, CERN agreed that anyone could use the Web protocol and code for free.

Ward Cunningham started developing the WikiWikiWeb in 1994 as a supplement to the Portland Pattern Repository, a website containing documentation about Design Patterns, a particular approach to object-oriented programming.

The WikiWikiWeb was intended as a collaborative database, in order to make the exchange of ideas between programmers easier; it was dedicated to “People, Projects and Patterns.” Cunningham wrote the software to run it using the Perl programming language. He considered calling the software “quick-web,” but instead named it using the Hawaiian word “wiki-wiki,” which means “quick-quick” or “very quick,” based on his memory of the Wiki Wiki Shuttle at Honolulu International Airport.

Cunningham installed a prototype of the software on his company Cunningham & Cunningham’s website c2.com. On March 16, 1995, when the site was functioning, Cunningham sent to a colleague the following email:

Steve – I’ve put up a new database on my web server and I’d like you to take a look. It’s a web of people, projects and patterns accessed through a cgi-bin script. It has a forms-based authoring capability that doesn’t require familiarity with html. I’d be very pleased if you would get on and at least enter your name in RecentVisitors. I’m asking you because I think you might also add some interesting content. I’m going to advertise this a little more widely in a week or so. The URL is http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki. Thanks and best regards. – Ward

Cunningham dates the official start of WikiWikiWeb as March 25, 1995. On May 1, 1995 he sent an email about the website to a number of programmers, which caused an increase in participation. This note was posted to the “Patterns” listserv, a group of software developers gathered under the name “The Hillside Group” to develop Erich Gamma’s use of object-oriented patterns. Cunningham had noticed that the older contents of the listserv tended to get buried under the more recent posts, and he proposed instead to collect ideas in a set of pages which would be collectively edited. Cunningham’s post stated: “The plan is to have interested parties write web pages about the People, Projects and Patterns that have changed the way they program.” He added: “Think of it as a moderated list where anyone can be moderator and everything is archived. It’s not quite a chat, still, conversation is possible.”

The site was immediately popular within the pattern community.

Ward Cunningham started developing the WikiWikiWeb in 1994 as a supplement to the Portland Pattern Repository, a website containing documentation about Design Patterns, a particular approach to object-oriented programming.

The WikiWikiWeb was intended as a collaborative database, in order to make the exchange of ideas between programmers easier; it was dedicated to “People, Projects and Patterns.” Cunningham wrote the software to run it using the Perl programming language. He considered calling the software “quick-web,” but instead named it using the Hawaiian word “wiki-wiki,” which means “quick-quick” or “very quick,” based on his memory of the Wiki Wiki Shuttle at Honolulu International Airport.

Cunningham installed a prototype of the software on his company Cunningham & Cunningham’s website c2.com. On March 16, 1995, when the site was functioning, Cunningham sent to a colleague the following email:

Steve – I’ve put up a new database on my web server and I’d like you to take a look. It’s a web of people, projects and patterns accessed through a cgi-bin script. It has a forms-based authoring capability that doesn’t require familiarity with html. I’d be very pleased if you would get on and at least enter your name in RecentVisitors. I’m asking you because I think you might also add some interesting content. I’m going to advertise this a little more widely in a week or so. The URL is http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki. Thanks and best regards. – Ward

Cunningham dates the official start of WikiWikiWeb as March 25, 1995. On May 1, 1995 he sent an email about the website to a number of programmers, which caused an increase in participation. This note was posted to the “Patterns” listserv, a group of software developers gathered under the name “The Hillside Group” to develop Erich Gamma’s use of object-oriented patterns. Cunningham had noticed that the older contents of the listserv tended to get buried under the more recent posts, and he proposed instead to collect ideas in a set of pages which would be collectively edited. Cunningham’s post stated: “The plan is to have interested parties write web pages about the People, Projects and Patterns that have changed the way they program.” He added: “Think of it as a moderated list where anyone can be moderator and everything is archived. It’s not quite a chat, still, conversation is possible.”

The site was immediately popular within the pattern community.

Among Cunningham’s innovations in creating WikiWikiWeb was the ability to easily link internally between pages; something that was often cumbersome to do in previous intranet and document management systems. Cunningham’s solution to this was to automatically link any text expressed in CamelCase; including text for which a corresponding page didn’t yet exist.

This CamelCase convention was used by most wiki software for the first few years of wikis’ existence. In 2001, the software UseModWiki, which at the time was in use on Wikipedia, switched to allow internal links to be done using standard spelling and double square bracket instead, in order to improve Wikipedia’s usability. This square bracket syntax has since become more of a default convention for internal links within wiki software in general.

Ward Cunningham wrote a version of his wiki software meant for public usage, called “Wiki Base”. In his announcement, he wrote: “WikiWikiWeb is almost public. Actually, a pretty good clone of it is public at: http://c2.com/cgi/wikibase. I’ve translated almost all of the actual wiki script into HyperPerl, a wiki-literate programming system that I think you will like.” Visitors were requested to register on the wiki before they took the Wiki Base code. Cunningham expected users to fold changes back into his editable version, but those who implemented changes generally chose to distribute the modified versions on their own sites.

Alternate applications for wikis began to emerge, usually imitating the look-and-feel of WikiWikiWeb/Wiki Base; such applications were originally known as “WikiWikiClones.” The first one was most likely created by IBM programmer Patrick Mueller, who wrote his in the REXX language, even before Wiki Base was released.

Inspired by the example of the WikiWikiWeb, programmers soon started several other wikis to build knowledge bases about programming topics. Wikis became popular in the free and open-source software community, where they were used for collaboratively discussing and documenting software. However, being used only by specialists, these early software-focused wikis failed to attract widespread public attention.

The WikiWikiWeb website approximately doubled in size every year 1995 to 2000, with disk usage rising from around 2 megabytes in 1995 to around 60 megabytes at the end of 2000. During that time, various innovations were put in place, many suggested by users, to help with navigation and editing. These included:

1995 – RecentVisitors, PeopleIndex: pages to help users know who was contributing
1995 – NotSoRecentChanges: excess lines from the RecentChanges page were copied to a file of “ChangesIn”
1996 – EditCopy: offers the possibility to edit the backup copy of a page this was replaced in 2002 with Page History
1996 – ThreadMode: the form of a page where community members hold a discussion, each signing their own contribution
1996 – WikiCategories: categories can be added as an automatic index to pages
1997 – RoadMaps: proposed lists of pages to consult about specific topics, such as the Algorithms RoadMap or the Leadership RoadMap
1999 – ChangeSummary: an aid to telling which changes added interesting new content and which were only minor
2000 – UserName: the Wiki will accept a cookie that specifies a User Name to be used in place of the host name in the RecentChanges log

“ThreadMode” was defined as “a form of discussion where our community holds a conversation.” It consists of a series of signed comments added down the page in chronological order. Ward Cunningham generally frowned on ThreadMode, writing: “Chronological is only one of many possible organizations of technical writing and rarely the best one at that.”

Cunningham encouraged contributors to “refactor” the ThreadMode discussions into DocumentMode discourse. In practice many pages started out at the top in DocumentMode and degenerated into ThreadMode further down. When ThreadMode became incomprehensible the result was called “ThreadMess.”

The use of categories was proposed by user Stan Silver on August 27, 1996. His initial post suggested: “If everyone adds a category and topic to their page, then the category and topic pages themselves can be used as automatic indexes into the pages.” Initially Silver had proposed both categories and topics: categories denoted the specific nature of the page’s subject, while topics denoted the theme of the page. However, people ignored this separation, and topics were collapsed into the categories.

The “ChangeSummary” option began as an aid to telling which changes added interesting new content, and which were just minor adjustments of spelling, punctuation, or correction of web links. It started when some users began taking the RecentChanges page, annotating each line with a brief description of each change, and posting the result to the ChangeSummary page. This practice was highly time-consuming and rapidly petered out, but was replaced by the “MinorEdit/RecentEdits” feature, designed to reduce the RecentChanges clutter.

25 March 1965

Civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King complete their 4-day 50-mile march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

he Selma to Montgomery marches were three protest marches, held in 1965, along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery. The marches were organized by nonviolent activists to demonstrate the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression, and were part of a broader voting rights movement underway in Selma and throughout the American South. By highlighting racial injustice, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the Civil Rights Movement.

Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South throughout the 20th century. The African-American group known as the Dallas County Voters League launched a voter registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters.

Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 people arrested by the end of February. According to Joseph A. Califano Jr., who served as head of domestic affairs for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson between the years 1965 and 1969, the President viewed King as an essential partner in getting the Voting Rights Act enacted. Califano, whom the President also assigned to monitor the final march to Montgomery, said that Johnson and King talked by telephone on January 15 to plan a strategy for drawing attention to the injustice of using literacy tests and other barriers to stop black Southerners from voting, and that King later informed the President on February 9 of his decision to use Selma to achieve this objective.

On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper, James Bonard Fowler, during a peaceful march in nearby Marion, Alabama. To defuse and refocus the community’s outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma voting rights movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others. State troopers and county possemen attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march with the second group. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country also gathered for the second march.

The violence of “Bloody Sunday” and Reeb’s murder resulted in a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a historic, nationally televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.

The route is memorialized as the “Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail,” and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Trail.

25 March 1584

Sir Walter Raleigh is granted permission to colonize Virginia.

 photo sir-walter-raleigh-9450901-1-402_zpscoyfqc4y.jpg

In 1584 Queen Elizabeth I of England gave Sir Walter Raleigh permission to set up the first English colony in North America. Queen Elizabeth told Raleigh that he could have all the land in eastern North America north of Florida. Raleigh named this land Virginia. Raleigh sent settlers to establish a colony on Roanoke Island, now a part of North Carolina, two times–in 1585 and in 1587. However, both attempts failed.

England wanted a colony in North America so that Spain and France would not gain control of the entire continent. England also hoped to increase its wealth by finding gold, silver, and other riches in North America. An American settlement would furnish raw materials that could not be grown or obtained in England, while opening new markets for trade. A raw material is any resource that can be used to make a product.

England’s attempt to establish a colony stopped for a while. By the early 1600s England was again ready to try to establish a colony in Virginia. In 1606 a group of business-people in England formed the Virginia Company of London. They hoped to make money. To get enough money to buy supplies and ships, these business-people sold stock, or shares of ownership, in the company. People who bought the stock would share any money the company made. King James I granted the Virginia Company of London a charter to build a settlement in Virginia. A charter is a document giving a person or a group of people permission to take a certain action. In the charter, the king promised that settlers in Virginia would have the same legal rights in England.