Urban Legend or Not – There is a shortage of bits and bytes

Read the history first – then get ready to freak out.

The internet was developed as a project referred to as ARPAnet back in 1965. There were only two people involved in the entire internet back then. A dude named Charles Herzfeld and another guy named Ian Peter.

Their plan was rather simple – they needed a way to transmit information from one computer to another so that they would not have to get up out of their chairs. Believe it or not, it was that simple of a need.

Thru the end of the 1960’s and into early 1970’s, this is all email did for anyone. Charley & Ian sent some instructions to some other people back then (by US Mail) and this guy named Ray Tomlinson came up with another idea.

He figured that if this internet thing did a good job of sending letters and stuff back and forth to different computers, then maybe he could use it to send other short letters back and forth between himself and some other guy named Bolt Beranek. This way they could get by without even talking to each other all day long.

This is how email got started.

Hang on now, a lot more stuff happened as well.

Somewhere back before AOL created IM, some dudes at Berkely University created this thing called Unix Talk which was the first Instant messaging thing.

Today we have thousands of little applications running around the internet sending all kinds of files and messages around the world. FTP, AIM, Facebook, Chat, WebEx, Video Conferencing, etc, etc, etc.

Now here is the problem.

According to experts, who I can barely talk with since they have dozens of cool physics and mathematics degrees, we are now beginning a seriously dangerous crisis.

We are running out of bits and bytes.

Apparently the only way new bits and bytes are added to the internet is when we plug in a new computer or computing device.

As I understand it from these experts, it is the transistors in computer that are the only source of new bits and bytes.

Years ago, when the only things transmitted across the internet were a few files, the number of transistors connected to the internet far exceeded the number of bits and bytes used by these files.

Today, we send over 200 billion text messages a year, 183 billion emails a year, 100,000 + Movies (HD uses more bits) a year and we are still trying to get good information on how many pictures and voice mail messages we transmit each year.

The conservative estimate is that the sum of all of these different types of internet messages assuming a 64bit file structure and an average file size of 155KB each, far exceeds 600 Gazillion individual bits and bytes a year. By the way, a Gazillion is a Trillion Trillion and I lost track of the number of zeros involved.

According to Garner – today we are barely able to produce this many bits and bytes each year.

Companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and other internet security and connectivity companies are doing their best to help us.

There is a worldwide ongoing effort targeting useless emails, chats and other internet documents. The systems used to do this are publicly referred to as Junk Filters, Spam Managers and Antivirus tools. The truth be known, these systems were created with the explicit task of recycling bits and bytes.

Even with all of these efforts, we may not be able to stop the crisis. There is a task force headed up by very smart people around the world looking at ways to solve this problem.

Please, until we come up with a solution, pay attention to the amount of emails, text messages and especially ugly pictures that you post on web sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Flixr and Face book. If we all try to help out, we may be able to save the endangered bits and bytes and by doing so, save the internet.

Thank you for your help.

Another story by Teddy Burriss. I hope you enjoyed it.