We don’t know how we managed without The World Wide Web. Those of us old enough probably have a vague memory of libraries for technical information and research, Yellow Pages for finding suppliers and newspapers for seeing what was sold in the local area. They’ve all suffered of course so we should remember that much has been displaced by the Internet. But much has been gained.
I had a problem with my old car recently. The ignition switch on the steering lock became stiff. A brief investigation found the electrical switch itself disintegrating. Detailed investigation found the switch to be very worn and plastic clips holding it together wearing away. Repair was unlikely to be successful long term. A look on supplier’s web sites suggested a new steering lock assembly complete with switch. That would have meant steering wheel off, dash panel out and probably a lot of grief getting the old lock off as they have shear bolts – designed to break on installation so thieves cant dismantle them. There had to be an easier solution – on the web.
Firstly a mobile phone pic, immediately available on the computer via file sharing allowed simple visual comparisons.
Much searching for clues via a blog which delivered a potential switch part number, suppliers of car electrical parts which delivered a potential equivalent part number, a site which had a wiring diagram and finally a choice of suppliers who had what looked remarkably like a mechanically equivalent switch, albeit with more functions. This looked hopeful! £20 quid and 3 days later said switch was delivered, yes it fitted and with some straightforward testing with a meter the cabling worked out, modified to connect and a job done! And it was done for a vehicle built long before the web began.
It would not have been possible without the Internet – so thank you Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, also known as TimBL, English computer scientist best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web – you made a potentially hard job very much easier!