December 4, 2023

Dan MacKay (BCS’89) remembers New Year’s Day, 1983 effectively. He was in the Sculpture Court at the Dalhousie Arts Centre and about to make heritage by assisting carry Nova Scotia online for the initial time.

The usual ceremonial prospers would not do for these types of a particular celebration. 

“We experienced our tools established up in the Sculpture Court, and the leading was there, and rather of cutting a ribbon, I had him connect two pieces of ethernet collectively — an old variety of ethernet termed 10base2,” recollects MacKay, who was a important player on the technical team that designed the World-wide-web in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada. 

When the working day the team formally related Nova Scotia to the transcontinental network stands out as a highlight in MacKay’s head, there have been lots of fascinating and difficult moments all through the task. 

“Every working day there was a new challenge,” the College of Laptop or computer Science alum says. “We have been creating and bettering the velocity of the web across Canada, and I acquired to discuss to tech persons at colleges, libraries and businesses all throughout the province about fascinating new installations and advancements.”

MacKay also performed a function in acquiring the technological course of action that syncs time throughout every clock, computer and look at connected all in excess of the earth. 

MacKay pictured in 1991 during an World wide web hookup at Park Watch college in Bridgewater, N.S.

Every little thing was new

There’s no surprise MacKay was involved in developing the world wide web. From a youthful age, he was immersed in the planet of know-how thanks to his two older brothers, a single of whom graduated a member of the Course of ’75 with a degree in physics.

“By the time I was 5 a long time previous, I experienced a house physics, chemistry and engineering lab to enjoy with,” says MacKay. “When I was just scarcely a teen, I got to try out programming on paper tape on the new Intel 8080 chip in my brother Michael’s lab.”

Constructing the World-wide-web in a time prior to it was widely out there came with its very own set of issues.

“Everything was new,” he claims. “The extremely to start with routers we began performing with have been crafted in Burnside applying extremely experimental software and experienced all forms of critical problems that manufactured them unusable. The up coming batch was from the United states of america but had software package designed in Ontario which experienced in no way been connected to the Online just before. The equipment we had for diagnosing challenges with the world wide web have been very primitive — they however are — and so we bought really very good at reading through the nuances of what tools we experienced.”

When requested how the Internet has adjusted since people early times, he replies: “It would be a lot easier to doc the points that haven’t modified! That is e-mail and the fundamental protocol, TCP/IP.” 

MacKay says the largest revolutions to the Web due to the fact its inception are the improvement of the Earth Broad Website and improvements in Internet-huge look for engines.

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A shifting sector 

This past January, MacKay held a get together in the Goldberg Laptop Science Creating to mark the 40th anniversary of bringing Canada on the net.

The occasion influenced MacKay to do the job on a project documenting the historical past of nearby public, totally free, sponsored, and egalitarian entry to the Web through companies like The Chebucto Group Web and C@P and a piece of application identified as C-Suite.

When questioned about the potential of the Online and its evolution, MacKay sees some main new shifts underway.

“That answer has transformed greatly in the past couple of months, and it will continue on to do so. It seems a wonderful deal of our life will be mediated by artificial intelligence which will change from administration duties to sophisticated healthcare consultations.” 

Whilst the Web carries on to evolve, one particular issue is specified: MacKay’s contributions to the tech field and connecting Nova Scotia to the world-wide-web will always be remembered and celebrated.