Tech: Connecting Mumbai
In section one of our 32nd anniversary special, we look back at the momentous occasions and events that have given shape to the Mumbai we know today
1995: Internet comes to town
Mumbai gets access to the web, thanks to VSNL launching its internet service on August 15, 1995. A survey conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) in 2011 reveals that Mumbai is the top Internet using city in the country and has a whopping 8.1 million claimed internet users and 6.2 million active internet users.
1997: Mumbai police is online
In 1997, Mumbai police go online with a new website two years after the control room gets computerised. The site offers daily crime reports, information about laws, missing people info and also information about stolen vehicles. The website allows citizens to lodge non-cognizable complaints (nc) which is referred to the concerned police station thereafter.
1996:The city goes mobile
Mobile phones are launched on July 31, 1996. By 1997 Nokia 1610 becomes a popular mobile model in the city. The call rates for the incoming call are Rs 16 and Rs 21 for outgoing. Twelve years later, in 2008, Mumbai enters the 3G arena with the launch of 3G services.
2009: Online admission for colleges
The state government launches an online admission system in the year 2008 to enable students to finish all formalities. But a technical glitch stalls it. The government comes up with an improvised system in 2009 making admissions to colleges mandatory via the newly developed system.
Then & Now
Ashish Bhatia, tech journalist
Technology through the years
Innovation follows funny timelines. Mankind took over two million years to invent the wheel. The downsizing from the world’s first room-sized computers to the little desktop PCs took 35 years. But the shrinking of the desktop to the laptop needed less than a decade… And now we’re spoilt for choice sniffing out a smartphone -- something that’s essentially a computer far more powerful than a yesteryear mainframe.
To go tomb raiding, when I first booted-up in front of an IBM PC XT computer, the nine kilogram device boasted of MS-DOS, the operating system, which had four applications on it. We were a publishing house with 18 people and eight monthly magazines. And this one solitary PC that everyone shared!
We sent data from one PC to another (in another office/city) via a 5.25 inch floppy disk. We hadn’t heard of the Internet. USB pen drives were almost 10 years away. And none of us had seen a mouse back then.
The most emphatic change all around for humankind is the way technology has been reshaped in the last three decades. There was a time we would type on a keyboard to program “bold on/off”and “justify on/off” commands (the results of which could only be seen in a printout, not onscreen).
Now we are in an age where Natural Human Interfaces (NUI) like touch and voice control work magic… An age where Microsoft Kinect’s motion sensing and gesture control abilities allow us to command a computer literally through thin air. Quite the stuff of sci-fi flicks but a decade ago...
What next? Mindwave sensors… Why not!
Daler Mehndi’s Bhangra-pop was very popular in the 1990s. I hated it. His peculiar brand of ear-drum ripping rhythms and screeches masquerading as melody made me run weeping as soon as I heard him. Such hatred however backfires.
Before I knew it, he crept into a column I used to write for SUNDAY MiD DAY. Week after week, there was me writing about “Dollar Mendy” and his terrible songs and painfully garish costumes. As time passed, I knew not only Tunak tunak tun but also Bolo ta ra ra and Dardi rab rab.
A column without Dollar Mendy earned me frowns. I could not escape him. I had to write about him. He was everywhere.And everyone mocked my hatred. One day the Daler Mehndi Fan Club sent me a legal notice for insulting their hero. At last, someone had taken me seriously. It is still out there somewhere.
Ranjona Banerji was deputy editor of MiD DAY. She also headed SUNDAY MiD DAY between 1995 to 1996 and again between 1998 to 2000.