Early Coverage of the Web, the Segway, David Petraeus & David Brent


Every Monday, we travel into the archives of The New York Times to find the first time the paper covered various topics. This edition looks at the World Wide Web, the Segway, Michael Stipe and more.

World Wide Web

February 28, 1993

A Web of Networks, an Abundance of ServicesBill Clinton and Al Gore made a campaign promise to help build a national data network, hoping it would lead to new digital information services. While waiting to see if the new Administration follows through, businesses can get a taste of the future with the rapidly growing commercial networks of computer services. * * * * * Cheryl Currid, a business consultant in Houston, said she had begun using Radiomail, a Menlo Park, Calif., company that provides two-way mobile electronic mail over the Internet. Since she signed up, her cellular phone bill has dropped sharply. "I'm an electronic mail addict," she said. "People can find me wherever I am. I have negotiated several business deals recently without even using a telephone." * * * * * Additionally, gateways exist so that WAIS users can retrieve information from non-WAIS data bases like Gopher, developed by university users of Next computers, and the World Wide Web, which makes available physicists' research from many locations.

Keep reading for Michael Stipe, the Segway, and more...

Michael Stipe

May 30, 1984

The PoplifeLast year, R.E.M.'s first album, Murmur (I.R.S.), rose to a respectable No. 36 on the charts and won almost unanimous critical acclaim. There were a few detractors, who complained that they couldn't understand the lyrics being sung by R.E.M.'s lead vocalist, Michael Stipe. They wondered if there really was anything there. The new R.E.M. album, Reckoning, has won over most of the skeptics with songs and arrangements that seem more direct and focused, and singing that aims more at being understood. * * * * *Reckoning has moved up to No. 26 on the album charts and shows signs of becoming R.E.M.'s first big seller. "People keep telling us that to succeed in pop music these days you have to have either real loud guitars or a dance beat, preferably both, Mr. Buck said. "I guess we could have had that; we could have done a zillion things to advance our careers. But we insist on taking it at our own speed. We're going to be touring now for a month and a half or so, then taking some time off to work on songs for the next album, then going back out for another month. If we're going to be successful, we want it to be on our own terms."


December 3, 2001

An Inventor Unveils His Mysterious Personal Transportation DeviceIt is not a hovercraft, a helicopter backpack or a teleportation pod. The mystery transportation device being developed by the award-winning inventor Dean Kamen—the subject of continuous fevered speculation since provocative clues and predictions surfaced in media reports last January—is not hydrogen-powered, a favored theory in Internet discussions. Nor does it run on a superefficient Stirling engine (yet). But if the public's collective yearning for Jetsonian travel technology must remain unrequited this week, at least the speculators will have their curiosity satisfied. Mr. Kamen plans to demonstrate today a two-wheeled battery-powered device designed for a single standing rider. Its chief novelty lies in the uncanny effect, produced by a finely tuned gyroscopic balancing mechanism, of intuiting where its rider wants to go—and going there.

David Petraeus

May 12, 1974

Hollister Knowlton Betrothed To David H. Petraeus, a Cadet Lieut. Gen. William A Knowlton, superintendent of the United States Military Academy, and Mrs. Knowlton have announced the engagement of their daughter Miss Hollister Knowlton of First Classman David Howell Petraeus, who will graduate from West Point June 5. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sixtus Petraeus of Cornwall, NY. Miss Knowlton who will graduate June 2 from Dickinson College, and her fiancé have planned their wedding for early July. An alumna of the Madeira School in Greenway, VA, she was presented at the Internation Debutante Ball here.

David Brent

January 19, 2003

Finding Humor in the Everyday Horror of the OfficeThe man in charge of this division, David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais, who writes and directs The Office with Stephen Merchant), is the type of lower middle manager who wants to be both a dignified leader of men and a politically incorrect laddie. Wearing a fidgety smile and a goatee he is a few years too old for, he is forever making tired jokes that are greeted with queasy silence. Still, he thinks he's the life of the party. Mr. Gervais calls Brent an example of "blind spot" comedy. * * * * * By the time Gervais met Stephen Merchant, it was 1997 and he had landed a marketing job at a London radio station, XFM. Mr. Merchant, who was his assistant, described Mr. Gervais as "the laziest man I'd ever met." He also felt that Mr. Gervais was a born entertainer. "He'd never done any stand-up or proper stage performing," said Mr. Merchant, 28. In lieu of actually working, Mr. Gervais created a string of elaborate characters just to make Mr. Merchant laugh. "The turns of phrase, the way he spoke, the body language," Mr. Merchant said. "It was like he'd been practicing it in his bedroom for years, waiting for someone to be his audience—only he hadn't. It just came to him instinctively. I thought: 'Wait a minute. There's something here.' I told him: 'Gervais, you're a fat, funny man. Let's show the world.'" The two men got their chance when Mr. Merchant was accepted in a BBC production training course. He was required to make a short film, and had Mr. Gervais play the lead in his "seedy boss" persona. Mr. Gervais, who said he used to watch the mock documentary This Is Spinal Tap every day, felt right at home in a faux-reality format. Pleased with the outcome, the two showed the 20-minute film to a BBC executive. The rest, as Mr. Gervais put it, has been "like a fairy tale."

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