The Phenomenal History of the Internet
The amazing communication, information and entertainment tool that we know as the Internet grew from the development of packet networking systems in computer science laboratories in the United States, France and Great Britain. These packet networking protocols were developed throughout the seventies and protocols for internetworking, which allowed multiple networks to communicate with each other. Early networks – like Arpanet, Cyclades and the Merit Network – were all developed, but it was not until the introduction of TCP/IP protocols in 1983 that the infrastructure that would become the Internet as we know it was born.
In their infancy, Internet communications were largely limited to government and scientific organisations, but as computer science and communication capacity increased, internet communications became more prevalent. By the early 90s, the Internet had begun to penetrate into Asia and Australia.
As the Internet grew in its complexity, people began to realise the need to organise and find files – the World Wide Web became the means of indexing and finding web addresses. Shortly after this, the first web browser – the Mosaic web browser – was introduced, making it much easier for ordinary people to navigate their way through the web.
In 1994, the first full text web search engine – web crawler – was introduced, making the sourcing of information easier. Several search engines – including Yahoo and Alta Vista – enjoyed commercial success through the late 90s, but were trumped at the turn of the millennium by Google, which employed complicated algorithms to give greater relevancy in search results.
The increased popularity of the internet saw financial markets become heavily involved, resulting in the dot com boom and subsequent crash in March 2001. Many speculative ventures folded during that period, but the Internet – driven by ecommerce – has gone from strength to strength.
As technology has continued to advance at a rapid rate, the use of the Internet has become an essential part of business, recreation and learning in the developed world. Wireless communications have allowed mobile telephones to tap into the World Wide Web, creating a digital world that can literally be accessed any time of the day or night from anywhere. Social interaction through popular social media sites like YouTube and Facebook has seen the Internet become a social networking phenomenon, and an integral part of most Australians lives.
Now, with the introduction of the NBN, the internet is set to become the pivotal driver for much of our work, play and learning. Businesses are turning to the Internet to communicate and share files, while the entertainment industry is exploding in all directions with video on demand, music streaming and computer games that encourage group interaction. The education sector is finding new ways to deliver quality content to people eager to learn and the medical world is using the Internet to save lives and reduce health issues in remote areas.
The Internet has come a long way in the past fifty odd years; how far it progresses in the next fifty is anyone’s guess.