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How an Event from the 1960s Affected My Life

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The work of visionaries in the 1960s gave birth to the first form of Internet of that age.

J.C.R. Licklider of MIT first proposed a global network of computers in 1962. Leonard Kleinrock of MIT developed the theory of packet switching, forming the basis of Internet connections. In 1965, Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer. Roberts moved over to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and developed his plan for ARPANET, the Internet as it was known then. The Internet was finally brought online in 1969 after which there has been no turning back.

Having grown up in a developing African country Kenya, where computers and their associated technologies were only brought to the fore in the 1990s, I was fortunate enough to land my hands on a computer for the first time then (I consider that as a privilege because not many corporations had even been computerized). I vividly remember the first time I went online and did some web surfing in the year 2000 on my manager's computer. I had no idea about search engines and had to contact my brother-in-law in Canada to guide me. "Ask Jeeves" was the most comprehensive search engine, and miraculously amazing it was. I signed up to open my first ever email account using the popular public forum hotmail. Excited as I was, I could not but email only my brother-in-law since he was the only one that I knew of owning an email address. My general web surfing only brought up websites that were representative of companies in the US as well as a few other European countries as the Internet fever had not caught up in Kenya then, and there must have been only a handful of Kenyan companies that had their own pages.

With the help of the US government, my family and I were shortlisted for emigration to the US in 2001 and we had been asked to name a city in the US that we would like to settle in. With very little knowledge about the US, I took advantage of the Internet and started to search for a place to settle in. After days of research into the population demographics, weather patterns, rates of unemployment, standard of living, quality of life, and education standards of different cities, I only got more confused because there was a ton of information available that it made it very hard for me to compare apples to apples. I eventually settled for Jacksonville, Florida. I found out that there was no state tax in Florida, the hot weather nine months of the year was the closest to Kenyan weather, and that Jacksonville was the new city in the making, not repeating the mistakes made by older cities, for example, traffic gridlock, population dispersion, and easy access to the east coast of Florida. I also searched for apartments online and was able to sign a contract without speaking to anyone in the US. The photographs of the apartment complex that were posted online made us feel that we would be feeling totally at home upon arrival in the US

Having seen the benefits of having access to the Internet, I purchased a computer together with internet access in about a week's arrival in Jacksonville. I needed to buy a car and did not know what and where to buy one from. I searched for car dealers and learnt that there was a Ford dealership within walking distance from my apartment. At the dealership, while trying to bring the purchase price down, the car sales man took me to his office and went to a website (most likely Kelley bluebook) to illustrate that the price he was asking me to pay was lower than what was being offered in the market. He left me with no choice but to accept his offer.

I went online to search for a pediatric podiatrist for my infant daughter who was born with a club foot. Having found one and having established a relationship with him, I learnt that I needed to make bi-weekly trips to the hospital. I was beginning to worry about the total cost and walked into the office of the patient services officer who upon interviewing me qualified me as an indigent parent. The Florida Kid Care program was also made mention of to me and within a few clicks of the computer I had secured medical insurance for my child.

I did not have to leave the comfort of my home to search for jobs. I secured an interview with a mortgage lending company by posting my resume on a popular site, "" In Kenya, job seeking is often referred to as 'tarmacking' which implies hitting the road on foot going door to door enquiring about job vacancies.

Having opened up an account at a nearby bank, I can probably count the number of times that I had had to go



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