The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

In 1994 Bryant Gumbel asked: 'What is Internet, anyway?' [Video]

February 4, 2011 | 11:31 am

It wasn't all that long ago that explaining what the Internet is was a pretty tough thing to do.

A bit of confusion is caused amongst Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric as they try to describe the Internet and the @ sign as seen in the video above, which was posted on YouTube last week and is reportedly from a January 1994 episode of NBC's "Today" show.

Gumble, in the video, says of the @ sign: "I wasn't prepared to translate that as I was doing that little tease. That little mark with the 'a' and the ring around it."

Later in the video, he asks: "What is Internet, anyway?"

Couric answers: "Internet is uh, that massive computer network. The one that's becoming really big now."

Gumble: "What do you mean that's big? What -- how does one -- what do you write to it, like mail?"

Couric: "No, a lot of people use it and communicate. I guess they can communicate with NBC writers and producers."

The whole scenario might seem funny nowadays, but Los Angeles-based YouTube user VortexTech, who posted the video, said he didn't do so just for laughs.

"Don't laugh at Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric. It's easy to forget how relatively recent a phenomenon the Internet is for most persons who use it today," VortexTech wrote in the description of the video.

LA Observed embedded the video on its site this morning, along with speculation that it may have first been posted by an NBC employee who was fired once the video made its way online.

NBC officials weren't available for comment Friday morning to confirm or deny the rumors mentioned in LA Observed's report.

[Updated 11:34 a.m.: According to the Washington Post, Vanity Fair writer Mike Ryan was possibly the first to tweet a link to the Today Show video last week, and shortly thereafter the NBC employee who first uploaded the video lost his job.]


My BlackBerry is not working!

Movie shot on iPhone 4 by Park Chan-wook to hit South Korean theaters

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Video: "Today" show clip from 1994. Credit: VortexTech via YouTube