A Very Brief History of the Internet
The idea of the internet came about through some memos written by Dr. Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in 1962 where he discussed what he imagined to be an “Intergalactic Computer Network” where people could connect computers across the world to be able to access information from anywhere. He served in the Advanced Research Project Agency (a division of the U.S. Department of Defense), where he convinced other colleagues from MIT of his vision using extremely detailed research which eventually led to ARPAnet’s birth.
Browsers and the internet go hand in hand. In order to view content from another location with a user friendly interface, you need an all purpose application that is easy to understand and use. The current major front-runners are Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft (Explorer and Edge). When the internet was young, however, there was an entirely different landscape of options. The first widely used browser was called “NCSA Mosaic”, followed by Netscape Navigator, and then Internet Explorer hit the scene and took off running because it came pre-installed on all new Windows computers. Microsoft and the team at Netscape went head to head for awhile fighting over popularity, and then Netscape shifted it’s focus to developing a new browser called Mozilla which was extremely well-liked for non-windows users. This browser evolved into Firefox, and is still very popular today.
Methods of Communication
- Social Networking
Many of us use social networking every day, with a few being so dependent on it that we will wake up and immediately go to our phones to check status updates on Facebook, Twitter, or SMS. It’s hard to believe that the social connections we have today evolved from such humble beginnings as sending email in the 1960s and in 1979 we advanced to communications through a virtual newspaper on UseNet. We continued to evolve our way of keeping in touch to real time with the invention of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) in 1988 which eventually gave way to our current Instant Messaging chat programs we use on our phones and applications on our computers such as AIM, Yahoo IM, and Skype. With Skype came video calling, and soon other instant messenger software followed suit adding their own variations of two-way video calling. In 1997 a social media site called Six Degrees was made, allowing people to create a profile and add friends. Myspace came to life soon after, followed by Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
Email is older than the internet, and even older than ARPAnet. The first known email system was called “Mailbox” used at MIT around 1965 where someone could leave a message for another user where they could see it when they logged on. Our version of email today was developed in 1972 by Ray Tomlinson who developed the way to address the email message to the destination computer with the @ symbol.
- Wikis & Blogs
The first Wiki was created in 1995 by Ward Cunningham who titled it “WikiWikiWeb”. Because of user feedback, he created a public version of his code called Wiki Base, after several other versions came out. In 2001 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger got together and came up with the idea to use a Wiki to gather information from the community and create an encyclopedia. This is now the most popular Wiki site of all, called Wikipedia. However, the information on this site can not always be trusted, as anyone can add or edit information on articles. The first blog was Links.net, created around the same time as WikiWikiWeb, by Justin Hall. It was not called a weblog until 1997, however. The first blogs had to be edited by hand and linked individually to whichever page you wanted them on. It wasn’t until 2006 that blogs started to gain popularity, with around 50 million blogs on the internet at that time as opposed to the whole 23 blogs in 1999.
- Podcasts and Webcasts
Webcasts and Podcasts differ in that in a podcast video or audio has been saved on a server, usually as a series, and is not live, whereas in a webcast you are viewing the video as it is happening. Podcasts are Web syndicated, and that is what makes them different from other streams and downloads because the software used to play these podcasts will recognize when a new cast is available to play and fetch the newest one. Webcasting was introduced after 1989 when Brian Raila of GTE Labs made an interesting discovery about the ability to buffer video and sound if the receiving computer’s internet speed was capable. This allowed for them to send only part of the program instead of having to download the whole thing before listening or watching. Following this discovery, people were able to start sending videos which they called Webcasts. Podcasting wasn’t developed until 2004 by Dave Winer and Adam Curry, and was dubbed “Podcasting” by Ben Hammersley. George W. Bush was able to give his weekly presidential address using a podcast, in 2005.
References: Blogspot.com – Podcasts and Webcasts, Social Networking Lab – What is Podcast? What is Webcast? What is RSS Feed?, International Podcast Day – Podcasting Historical Timeline, History of Information – Invention of Buffered Media, The Basis of “Webcasting”
Image from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/Podcastlogo.jpg
- Streaming Media
The first worldwide streaming radio event happened in September of 1995, of a baseball game by ESPN. The inventor of this technology was Progressive Networks, based in Seattle, later called RealNetworks. There were many issues with trying to stream over slow internet, as most people had 56k modems at the time and videos were near impossible to watch. Microsoft fought with RealMedia for the market, and eventually RealMedia succumbed to the corporate giant. Macromedia (later purchased by Adobe) entered the scene with its Flash Player which many people favored for years to come, until recently with the increase of vulnerabilities found with streaming content through Flash. YouTube dropped Flash Player in 2015, and is now using HTML5 video as its default video, which really hurt the Adobe System’s market share.
E-Commerce and M-Commerce
Computer networks were used in the 60s to perform EDIs, or Electronic Data Interchange. The system could share information with computers from another company using different formats depending on the company. In 1979, ANSI invented ASC X12 which became the standard format for all businesses on the networks. In the mid 80s, the first known e-commerce service emerged by Compuserve, called Electronic Mall. This product boasted 110 merchants and allowed users to buy items directly online. Netscape 1.0 in 1993 introduced SSL for web browsing, which allowed personal information to be transmitted securely and enabled the use of credit cards on the internet, but processing services did not start to appear until after 1994. In July 1995, Amazon.com became the biggest e-commerce sensation in less than 30 days. They started out selling books online from Jeff Bezos’ garage, and became the multi-billion dollar company you know today. They did not go fully public until 1997, however. When people saw what could be accomplished with Amazon, there were ecommerce sites popping up like blades of grass all over the internet. And now, almost every store has an online presence.