History of the Internet

As of 2016, statistics from the International Telecommunications Union, showed that the global population stood at 7.3 billion, with 47% of the entire world population using the internet. Fixed broadband users took up a mere 10% while mobile broadband was at 81%. This clearly shows that a huge chunk of internet users rely on their mobile phones and other hand held devices, to access the internet.

English continues to dominate as the language spoken by most internet users at 27%, closely followed by Chinese at 25%. Statistics from the vpnMonitor shows that there are over 3.5 billion internet users as at the beginning of 2017. These demographics of internet users visit various social media platforms, over 900 million websites, and e-commerce stores.

90% of internet users acknowledge the internet as the best thing that has happened to them with only 6% citing it as a bad thing. The latter either got conned online, or have had unpleasant and nasty experiences when using the internet. Bullying, cheating, these are good examples. 53% of the adult users agree that giving up on the internet would be very hard in 2017 compared to 38% who thought so in 2006. These statistics show that the internet is the greatest piece of technology to influence the human population, since the invention of the fire and the wheel.

The most important of the services that the internet provides is the platform to research products online as well as access to social media communication platforms.

What Is The Internet?

The internet is the global computer network that provides a variety of communication facilities and information, consisting of interconnected networks incorporating standardized protocols. In 2017, the internet is celebrating 28 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee revolutionized the internet from a data-transfer system by a select few individuals in specialist industries, into a mass-adopted technology available to billions on a global scale. Approximately four in every ten adults feel they cannot live without the internet.

The inception of the internet goes back to the early 1960s when the US government commissioned research into the building of a robust fault-tolerant communication through computer networks. In 1962 August, Licklider J.C.R through a network of a series of memos where he discussed his Galactic Network concept envisioning a set of globally interconnected computers through which the world population could access data and programs from the site of their choice.

Packet Switching

At the time, Licklider developed his theories to enable the US government leaders to communicate effectively even if the Soviets interfered with the US telephone systems during the Cold War era. In 1965, one of Licklinder’s colleagues at MIT developed a means of sending information between two or more computers dubbed packet switching.

Packet switching breaks down information into packets or blocks for sharing with other computers and networks. This invention secured the US government’s computer network, ARPAnet. It was in 1969 that ARPAnet was able to send the first message – Login.

By 1971, the packet-switched computer networks were increasing in number, but it became harder to integrate all of them into a single worldwide internet since there were computers in Hawaii, Norway, London, and in the USA. By the end of the 1970s decade, Vinton Cerf solved the problem with his invention dubbed Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). With gradual development on the TCP, he added the Internet Protocol (IP). The internet in 2017 continues to use these two inventions in a combination we refer to as TCP/IP.

World Wide Web

Vinton’s TCP/IP expanded the internet’s reach to encompass the entire globe, in which a writer terms TCP/IP as the handshake that introduces different and distant computers to each other in the virtual space. Throughout the 1980s, scientists used the platform to send data and research files to each other.

In 1991, a Swiss computer programmer Tim Berners-Lee introduced the internet that would reach out to every country in the world. He changed the role the internet played in the world from a mere way to send information to it being a web of information. He is the father of the internet, as we know it today.

Early World Wide Web Access

A team of researchers and trainees from the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1992, developed the first ever browser they called the Mosaic, later named Netscape. This was the predecessor of the search engines users are synonymous with in the modern era. Mosaic allowed internet users to view images and words on the same page for the very first time.

Mosaic also allowed users to navigate between websites using scrollbars and clickable links. The US Congress approved the commercialization of the internet that set individual companies to go into the development of their websites. In the over two decades since Sir Tim Berners-Lee made available the internet for everyone, it has experienced more than a 100% growth.

The Internet in the Modern Era

  • The internet has accommodated every industry, and its greatest use is the spread of information while creating a communications channel. Traditional communications media houses in audio, visual, and print mediums are restructuring to include the internet as a way of amassing and disseminating information.
  • The internet has made underdogs mega stars in the entertainment circles, with talent scouts scouring the web for new acts. Advancements in technology have allowed instant messaging via select sites or on social media platforms.
  • With the enhancement of cyber security, more people are engaging in online shopping. Both major and emerging retailers are using the Internet to sell products to willing buyers. It is a way of reaching out to a wider audience away from their physical stores.
  • Social media is probably the biggest undertaking of the internet in the modern era with thousands of social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Tumblr, et al. account for more than 1.5 billion users with 68.3% of the internet users using at least one social media platform in 2016. Social media users will rise to over 2.67 billion users by 2018.

In conclusion;

Overall, the internet is a force for good with 56% of the internet users admitting they have been involved in a group to help a community or a specific person solve a problem. One however ought to be cautious of negative users and bullies; this is especially so considering that 25% of internet users say they have encountered hostility on an online platform. Since the early 1990s, Internet connectivity is at an all-time high in 2017, and better speeds are currently under development to surpass the already fast 4G speeds.