The Internet has a vast history. This blog post walks through how the Internet started, the major notable events, and how the technology has advanced over time.
Before we start with the history, let us understand what the Internet is.
The Internet is a global network of servers, web pages, and computers. It allows users to access and share information with other users.
Accessing your favorite websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, or any other is accessing the Internet. Sharing information via email, messengers, mobile application, etc., also fall into the usage of the Internet.
In short, most of the things that consume your mobile data or WiFi is part of the Internet.
Before the Invention of the Modern Internet
The beginning of today’s Internet was not simple. Computer scientists did countless researches and efforts for decades to give us our modern World Wide Web.
To walk you through how the Internet started, we have penned down some notable developments.
- In October 1969, ARPANET became the first network that used packet switching successfully. UCLA and Stanford universities tried transmitting the word Login, but their system crashed on the letter g.
- In 1970, MIT, Harvard University, and BBN deployed ARPANET.
- Raymond Samuel Tomlinson invented email in 1971.
- 1971 started an era of e-books. The thought was to make information from libraries available to users. Declaration of Independence was the first e-book.
- In 1972, France started CYCLADES, a network similar to ARPANET. The project got shut but drew attention to the concept of a host computer responsible for transmitting the data.
- In 1974, TCP/IP was born with a proposal to link networks similar to ARPANET, called inter-network.
- Gary Thuerk launched the first unsolicited commercial email campaign in 1978.
- 1st January 1983 was the deadline for all ARPANET computers to switch over to TCP/IP.
- In 1984, domain names got introduced with DNS. Users can access the pages by typing easy to remember URLs rather than numeric IPs.
- Tim Berners-Lee proposed the World Wide Web in the year 1989. It was first called Mesh but later renamed as the World Wide Web in 1990.
What was the Need and How the Internet Started?
The concept of the Internet started as ARPANET. United States Department of Defense formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The notion was to have a secure contact medium for the military to remain in contact during the event of war.
The core purpose was to have a network of Pentagon-funded computers to transmit information during the Cold War. ARPANET’s architecture did not have a hub. So, the destruction of any single or multiple centers did not affect the entire network.
The educational institutions were the frontline of research. Later, the universities used the advancement in technology as a tool to share information among users.
The importance of the connected network got recognized, and the Internet became famous.
What is the World Wide Web (“www”)?
Many people believe that the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same things. But there is a slight difference; the Internet is a global network of computers and servers. It allows users to access and share information with other users. Whereas, the World Wide Web in short “web” or “www” is a collection of information found on these global network computers.
In simple words, a web browser uses the Internet to access the web. All the websites are collection web pages consist of texts, images, videos, and other forms of content.
What were the Initial Web Browsers?
In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee developed the first web browser WorldWideWeb for NeXTSTEP operating system. The browser was renamed to Nexus later to avoid confusion with the World Wide Web. Line Mode Browser was the 2nd in line, which was the first cross-platform browser compatible with multiple operating systems. There were many other browsers created in the early 90s, but the majority of them got discontinued.
Domains Name, ISP, and Hosting Services
At the beginning of the Internet, people used to access resources on memorable host’s numerical IP addresses. But the rapid growth of the Internet made it impossible to maintain those host’s addresses. In 1983, Domain Name System got introduced on the ARPANET and published by the Internet engineering task force.
In simple words, a domain name is the address of a website. To access a website into a web browser, you have to call the domain name. It won’t be wrong to say a domain name is like a phone number to reach a person. You can say that website is a person, and the domain name is his phone number. To enter a website, you have to call the domain name via a web browser.
Internet Service Provider (ISP):
The Internet started as a closed network between government agencies, military, universities, and colleges. But, with time, these departments began to give Internet access to their employees. The situation of accessing the Internet at home became the cause for the creation of ISPs.
An Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the term for the organization that can provide access to the Internet. An ISP is a link between your device and the Internet-connected servers.
At the beginning of the Internet, there were three types of ISPs:
- Dial-up services
- High-speed Internet or Broadband
- DSL (Digital Subscribers Line)
When the Internet started, hosting a website was a costly process. It requires the user to have a dedicated computer or server to transfer data. The data and websites were accessible until the devices are up and running. Data access gets offline whenever those hosts get powered down.
Hosting services came into existence with the launch of GeoCities to overcome this issue in 1994. In the beginning, the hosting services were not accessible to everyone.
But things have evolved. Hosting services are now available for individuals and groups without any restrictions.
A hosting service is a web service that facilitates webmasters to publish web pages and related data to the Internet. Hosting services use special computers, called servers, to store the webmaster’s website. This process of storing the data on servers and making the websites available for global users is known as web hosting.
The Need for Search Engines
With time the number of websites increased. The father of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, created the first directory in 1992. The concept was to help users navigate to the websites. Later in 1995, Yahoo, DMOZ, The Starting Point Directory, and others got launched.
There was a surge in the number of websites between 1995 and 2000. The directories had their golden era during the tenure. With websites populating in the directories, it became difficult to find the right websites.
The concept of search engine comes into existence to search for websites within directories. Users can browse as well as search for the websites.
Yahoo launched its search engine in March 1995. Later in 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched their search engine BackRub. The new search engine showed website results based on its backlink analysis. BackRub later became Google, the biggest search engine as of date, with more than 85% search share.
What is a Search Engine?
A search engine is a program that provides relevant and useful results for user queries. It tends to lead users to relevant information on high-quality websites. In short, a search engine filters the wealth of data available on the web for user searches.
It allows users to access data with ease. Any inapt data get filtered out by search engines that may not be useful for the users. Search engines use modern algorithms to determine the quality of the websites’ pages. It assigns every page value in their index for relevant search phrases. When a user makes a query, the search engine shows the website listing from its index.
As of May 2020, below is the sequence of top 6 search engines as per their popularity:
How has the Internet Evolved over the years?
Evolution is inevitable over time, and it’s no different for the Internet. Over the past three decades, the Internet has grown and evolved on many levels. From sending text emails to conference calls, basic text web pages to progressive web application, everything contributes to the remarkable growth of the Internet.
The Internet became a need of the hour for everyone in the 21st century. It’s not limited to computers; it has reached mobile phones, wearables, smart homes, automobiles, and more. It’s not limited to share information, but it became a part of life. The Internet entertains, communicate, transact, and keeps you updated with the latest information across the globe.
Importance of the Internet in daily life?
As per Statista (Apr 2020), we have 4.54 billion Internet users, who are using the service in one way or another. The Internet has brought the knowledge at your fingertips. Below are some scenarios where the Internet have transformed your daily life:
- Online banking has enabled the bank services on your mobile/computer. You can transfer money, get your statement, or start any investment anyplace.
- E-commerce is allowing the sale and purchase of goods and services at your doorstep at competitive pricing.
- Online services have changed the way people book appointments, study, enjoy sports, plan travel, and a lot more.
- Communication, the core purpose of the beginning of the Internet, became one of the most common means of internet consumption.
- The entertainment industry has flourished. Platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime has tons of content for users to consume and for content producers to monetize.