Brief history of the internet - rewind 25 years back

Brief history of the internet - rewind 25 years back

Contrary to popular assumptions, there is a lot of difference between the world wide web and the internet. The two are closely linked systems with a lot of differences.

The internet is a global wide area network of computers connected together. The internet backbone includes several high-bandwidth data lines connected to major internet hubs and distributes data across locations, web servers and ISPs.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) act as the middleman between users and the internet, which means that you must have an internet service provider for you to access the internet. These ISPs offer broadband internet access using cables, DSL or fiber connection.

Most people used a home computer and a dial-up modem to connect to the internet in its earlier days. However, mobile devices like smartphones ensure that users are always connected to the internet at all times and everywhere they go. Using the internet, users can access different online services, including the Web, email, social media, online gaming and software updates.

The WWW (World Wide Web), on the other hand, is the most popular standard system used to access and navigate the internet. One important factor differentiating the WWW from other systems is that it uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which is a term for standardizing HTML (HyperText Markup Language). The WWW is a web browser that allows users to access web pages and programs.

HTML is the Web's language, and HTTP is the grammar rules used in using it; similar to how French is often regarded as the language of love, HTML is the language of the Web. Using one language, web users can communicate, share ideas or information, and standardized HTML usage. To access the Web, you would need a web browser.

The History of the WWW

Founded in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at CERN, an international scientific organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. This team created a HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) protocol that standardized communication amongst servers and clients. By 1990, the team had built the tools for a working web, HTTP, HTML, the first web browser; WWW (web editor), first HTTP server software (CERN HTTPd), the first web server (, and the first Web pages.

The WWW doubles as the information retrieval service of the internet, providing users with access to a large array of documents and files connected through hypertext or hypermedia links. Hyperlinks are electronic connections that link related information together, giving users access to them.

Operating within the internet's basic client-server format, the servers are computer programs that store and transmit documents across computers on the network on request. This browser software allows users to view results from the WWW.

On the WWW, a hypertext, its corresponding text and hyperlinks are written in HTML and assigned to an online address, the Uniform Resource Locator (URL). The WWW uses three protocols:

  • HTML (Hypertext markup language): the code language for web pages.
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol): the most common protocol developed for the World Wide Web. HTTP requests the HTML documents from the server and sends them to the browser.
  • URLs (Uniform Resouce Locator): The last piece of the puzzle, URLs refer to the address where documents live on the Web. It is defined as <protocol>://<node>/<location>

The first Microsoft Web browser Cello was created to allow lawyers to find legal information.

In 1992, the text-based Web browser was made available for public release, and the creation of the MOSIAC increased its popularity. In September 1993, Marc Andreessen and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released the Mosaic web browser, which allowed users to use the Web as a point-and-click graphical manipulation. In December 1994, the Netscape Navigator was founded by Andreessen under the Netscape Communications Corporation, which soon became the dominant web browser soon after its release. The InterWorks browser by BookLink Technologies released in 1994 was the first browser with tabs that allowed users to visit different sites without opening a new window.

The World Wide Web had become very popular by the mid-1990s with millions of active users.

By 1995, software giant Microsoft Corporation developed its own Web browser, Internet Explorer based on the Mosaic as an add-on to the Windows 95 OS. In 1996, the IE was integrated into Windows, becoming a part of the operating system of personal computers. Reducing competition from other internet browsers, the Inter Explorer soon became the most popular web browser.

In 2003, Apple released the Safari browser as the default browser on the Macintosh personal computers, iPhones (2007) and iPads (2010). The Safari 2.0 (2005) was the first browser with the private browsing feature which didn't save in its history, websites, downloaded files in cache and personal information.

Apple's first logo

However, the IE's most serious challenger was Mozilla's Firefox, released in 2004. Firefox the speed, security issues plaguing the Internet Explorer. By 2013, Google Chrome had become the most popular web browser, ahead of the Internet Explorer and Firefox. In 2015, the Internet Explorer was discontinued by Microsoft and replaced by Edge.

By the early 21st century, smartphones were becoming increasingly popular with computer-like, advanced services. Using smartphones, users could now access the internet, increasing web usage. By 2016 Smartphones had become the most popular device for web usage, accounting for more than half of web browsing.

The Dot-Com Bubble

With the release of Windows 95 and the Internet Explorer browser, many public traded companies identified that public Web presence was no longer optional. As such many people focused on the benefits of free publishing and instant global information. This then increased two-way communication using the Web birthing direct Web-based commerce (e-commerce) and instant group communications.

Hence, more dot-coms showing products on hypertext webpages were included on the Web.

In 1996, Robin Li built and patented the world's first Web search engine, RankDex featuring a site-scoring algorithm for results page ranking. RankDex measured website quality using hyperlinks, predating Google's Page Rank algorithm. RankDex was used as the technology in the Baidu search engine founded and launched in 2000.

Between 1986-1997, Google Search, which eventually became popular for its PageRank algorithm, was developed by Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Scott Hassan. RankDex was referenced in the US Patents for Google's page rank. In 1998, Google was founded by Page and Brin.

The low interest rates of 1998-1999 created an increase in startup companies, most of which revolved around the new dot-com concept. The dot-com boom has been related to other technology-inspired booms, and by 2000, the bubble burst, taking many dot-com startups out of business. The businesses that survived had two things in common; a sound business plan and a well-defined, unique niche.

By the early 21st century, the dot-com businesses that survived the burst began to thrive, starting as online retailers and becoming highly profitable businesses. Retailers began to find the Web to be a profitable source of additional income, online entertainment and news outlets began to thrive. Traditional media began to recognize the Web as a useful, profitable channel for content distribution and revenue generation.

Following the dot-com race, telecom companies and internet business clients recorded huge increases. Ongoing investment in local cell infrastructure reduces connectivity charges making high-speed internet connections more affordable. Taking advantage of this, a handful of companies successfully developed business models, all of which made the WWW a much more exciting experience. These companies include airline booking sites, Google's search engine and keyword-based advertising, as well as eBay's auction site and's online department store.


E-commerce and the WWW

Following the invention of the internet, its use was largely limited to government organizations, researchers and universities. This is because it features hidden commands which were restricted and insured for businesses. The invention of electronic nails, emails caused many organizations to begin using the internet.

These organizations used the internet for Internal and external communications. The invention of CERN made it easier for users to communicate and share information using the WWW, and this marked the beginning of businesses using the internet to share information for their growth.

With an internet connection and web browsers becoming the norm, businesses began purchasing domain names and creating websites. Restrictions on commercial use of the internet were lifted in 1991 by the National Science Foundation.

Following the dot-com bubble burst, internet collections were built around the globe for thousands of miles. However, one major problem faced in earlier times were threats of digital worms and viruses through sharing, which increased largely.

In recent times, internet security on computers has increased, reducing virus rates and increasing the internet's popularity.

How the WWW Facilitates Ecommerce

In over a decade, the WWW has been used by businesses to display their business data. The WWW not only provides detailed information but it also influences customers to buy products.

Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, and there are several ways the WWW facilitates eCommerce, including:

  • Direct Selling

Using the WWW, web users globally can now make purchases using virtual shops and stores. They can now browse through product catalogues on these web stores, find product details, and make purchases from the website.

All of these functions are made available through the World Wide Web. Using the WWW, individuals can now sell and shop online globally using internet-enabled devices and from the comfort of their homes.

  • Communication

Emails are the most common mode of communication among businesses and customers. Emails are a cheaper yet effective way to communicate through sellers, customers and multiple sellers.

Using emails, communication can be done without geographical limitations an

Email or electronic mail is the most common mode of communication from businesses to customers as well as from businesses to businesses. It is a low-cost and effective way to communicate through the large network of the World Wide Web. Ecommerce is a business that requires active communication between the sellers and customers as well as among multiple sellers. Using email, this communication can be done easily without boundary limitations or lack of target audience.

  • Marketing

With every website being set up on the WWW, websites now access millions of potential customers globally. E-commerce stores using the WWW can now market their services globally in only a matter of seconds and at lower costs than traditional marketing.

  • Research and Development

Another way the WWW facilitates E-commerce is by allowing them to collect information on research and developments using the WWW network. Now, users can find answers to queries resolved by businesses using online communication.

Also, businesses can easily monitor customer behavior and response through the internet.

Think of the WWW as the property on which your favorite e-commerce stores are built. Using it, customers can now shop and pay for products without speaking to a salesperson and even tracking their orders without in-person contact.

The Web is the framework behind e-commerce services and needs three entities: the client browser, web browser and third-party services. The client browser communicates with the WWW server, which acts as an intermediary with third-party services. The client browsers in the user's device caters to different content and is peripherally fitted to know what files are downloaded and the required browser connection to display them.

These browsers can now manipulate local files efficiently. The WWW server is useful for managing data, transaction and security, as well as third-party services such as electronic payment sustains, information processing tools, to mention a few.




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