Pc science alum displays on his function in constructing the Web in Nova Scotia – Dal Information

Pc science alum displays on his function in constructing the Web in Nova Scotia – Dal Information

Dan MacKay (BCS’89) remembers New 12 months’s Day, 1983 effectively. He was within the Sculpture Court docket on the Dalhousie Arts Centre and about to make historical past by serving to carry Nova Scotia on-line for the primary time.

The same old ceremonial prospers wouldn’t do for such an important day. 

“We had our gear arrange within the Sculpture Court docket, and the premier was there, and as a substitute of reducing a ribbon, I had him join two items of ethernet collectively — an outdated type of ethernet referred to as 10base2,” recollects MacKay, who was a key participant on the technical crew that constructed the Web in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada. 

Whereas the day the crew formally linked Nova Scotia to the transcontinental community stands out as a spotlight in MacKay’s thoughts, there have been many thrilling and difficult moments through the undertaking. 

“Daily there was a brand new problem,” the School of Pc Science alum says. “We have been constructing and enhancing the velocity of the web throughout Canada, and I obtained to speak to tech individuals at colleges, libraries and companies all throughout the province about thrilling new installations and enhancements.”

MacKay additionally performed a job in creating the technological course of that syncs time throughout each clock, laptop and watch linked everywhere in the world. 

Pc science alum displays on his function in constructing the Web in Nova Scotia – Dal Information
MacKay pictured in 1991 throughout an Web hookup at Park View faculty in Bridgewater, N.S.

All the things was new

There’s no marvel MacKay was concerned in constructing the web. From a younger age, he was immersed on the planet of know-how because of his two older brothers, certainly one of whom graduated a member of the Class of ’75 with a level in physics.

“By the point I used to be 5 years outdated, I had a house physics, chemistry and engineering lab to play with,” says MacKay. “After I was simply barely a teen, I obtained to check out programming on paper tape on the brand new Intel 8080 chip in my brother Michael’s lab.”

Constructing the Web in a time earlier than it was extensively accessible got here with its personal set of challenges.

“All the things was new,” he says. “The very first routers we began working with have been in-built Burnside utilizing very experimental software program and had all types of significant issues that made them unusable. The following batch was from the USA however had software program in-built Ontario which had by no means been linked to the Web earlier than. The instruments we had for diagnosing issues with the web have been very primitive — they nonetheless are — and so we obtained actually good at studying the nuances of what instruments we had.”

When requested how the Web has modified since these early days, he replies: “It might be simpler to doc the issues that haven’t modified! That’s e-mail and the underlying protocol, TCP/IP.” 

MacKay says the most important revolutions to the Web since its inception are the event of the World Extensive Internet and advances in Web-wide search engines like google.

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A shifting sector 

This previous January, MacKay held a celebration within the Goldberg Pc Science Constructing to mark the fortieth anniversary of bringing Canada on-line.

The occasion impressed MacKay to work on a undertaking documenting the historical past of native public, free, sponsored, and egalitarian entry to the Web by way of organizations like The Chebucto Group Internet and C@P and a bit of software program referred to as C-Suite.

When requested about the way forward for the Web and its evolution, MacKay sees some main new shifts underway.

“That reply has modified drastically in the previous few months, and it’ll proceed to take action. It appears a substantial amount of our lives will probably be mediated by synthetic intelligence which can fluctuate from administration duties to superior medical consultations.” 

Whereas the Web continues to evolve, one factor is definite: MacKay’s contributions to the tech trade and connecting Nova Scotia to the web will at all times be remembered and celebrated.