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Connecting to the world

It sure is a tech world!

1st MOBILE CALL Jyoti Basu (right), the then chief minister of West Bengal, made the first cellphone call on an Indian network on July 31, 1995. He called Union communications minister Sukh Ram on Modi Telstra's MobileNet service in Kolkata using a Nokia handset.

The first digital computer came to the country when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister. The Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) imported and installed the HEC-2 M at its premises in Kolkata in 1956 for Rs 10 lakh. It could only follow 16 basic instructions, but played an important part in the formulation of annual and five-year plans by the Planning Commission. A key player in the purchase of the device was the man people consider the 'father of the planning process in India', P C Mahalanobis.

The internet became available to the public on August 14, 1995. Called Gateway Internet Access Service (GIAS), the service was available in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. Pritish Nandy set up India's first internet cafe in 1996 at Mumbai's Leela hotel. It was called CyberCafe and one could surf the web there through a special gateway provided by Apple.

By all accounts, Dwijesh Dutta Majumder of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) was one of the first persons in the country to learn to use a computer. After finishing his PhD in radiophysics and electronics from Calcutta University, Majumder came across a photograph of P C Mahalanobis showing the HEC-2 M, the country's first computer, to Nehru. His interest piqued, Majumder met Mahalanobis and told him he wanted to work on the computer. In 1956, he was made part of the computer unit at ISI and became one of the first tech experts in the country. He is today professor emeritus in the electronics and communication sciences unit at ISI.

On July 15, 2010, Bangalore-based Hidden Network launches 'Epic', the first entirely India-made web browser. It supports 12 Indian languages and features a sidebar that aggregates Indian news, cricket updates, live television channels, stock quotes and local events.

Ranjana Sonawne of Tembhli village in Maharashtra became the first to receive a unique identification (UID) or Aadhar number - 782474317884 - on September 29, 2010. Under the project, piloted by former Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani, every resident of India will receive a unique 12-digit identification number linked to his or her demographic and biometric information.

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