When I’m not travelling, I can spend time travelling in cyberspace. As my grandmother knew, it is a place first described by Gertrude Stein in 1937 as "There’s no there there"
The word cyberspace is said to have been invented by the cyberpunk writer William Gibson in his story Burning Chrome. His science fiction is often called prophetic. Wikipedia writes that before Gibson’s work science fiction was "widely insignificant". So it was fun to put together this table which correlates Gibson’s bibliography with hardware and software advances.
|1982||Burning Chrome||Atari Virtual Reality lab founded; 4th anniversary of Minitel; emoticons invented|
|1984||Neuromancer||10th anniversary of the first PC (Altair 8800); 9th anniversary of the portable computer (IBM 5100); Telebit’s Trailblazer modem uses 18,432 bits/s||15th anniversary of internet; 10th anniversary of Maze war; 9th anniversary of Adventure|
|1988||Mona Lisa Overdrive|
|1990||Virtual reality headsets developed||Birth of the web: HTML, CERN web server, CERN browser|
|1993||Virtual Light||NCSA Mosaic browser|
|1994||First smartphone (BellSouth’s Simon)||IPv6 development starts; QR codes invented|
|1999||All Tomorrow’s Parties|
As you can see, in reality Gibson’s work trailed behind development in many ways. When he began writing, the internet was a decade old already, as was internet chat and usenet. In France people were already buying train tickets and shopping online via Minitel. His most wonderful image, of cyberspace as a consensual illusion which organizes all data, never came to pass. Cyberpunk was always steampunk,a re-imagination of old technology. But Gibson’s language still carries a certain resonance.