Welcome to the Internet
The internet is a giant network of networks. Floating around in these networks is data, which can be defined as meaningful information. Some data like the image above may seem debatable in terms of meaningful information, but I assure you, gun wielding cats riding fire-breathing unicorns forefront-ing the Mushroom Kingdom are as vitally important to the development of the internet as the events to precursor it. The internet as we know it did not happen over night, it has been a work in progress since 1969 where the first metaphorical domino was tipped.
There was the commercial computing network, the telephone system network and the academia network; a tool to share and exchange research. These networks in addition to others were stitched together to form a global network; ARPANET, the first internet. In an attempt to homogenized communication the Defense Advanced Research Project (DARPA) of the Department of Defense created the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, more commonly known as TCP/IP. This allowed networks of all types to connect and pass around information.
Almost a decade later the UNIX-to-UNIX copy program (UUCP) would make its mark on internet. UUCP allowed users to send files to other computers on the network who were also running UUCP. In subsequent years the USENET, CSNET and BITNET platforms were developed opening up the possibility of users emailing users. All of a sudden people were connecting for the sake of connecting. The system was gaining developmental momentum and growing in popularity. Finally, in 1982 the system was given a name; the “Internet”.
By the end of the 1980’s the National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented several supercomputer centers where users could access stored data. They did this by linking the supercomputers together with the NSF network and it is considered one of the more important backbones of the Internet. Then came 1990 and along with it a new graphical user interface giving inexperienced users an easy layout to navigate the internet. This only caused the user count to climb and climb into the millions leading the federal government to legitimize the internet with a new high-speed backbone upgrade; the National Research and Education Network (NREN).
In 1995 the internet becomes a playground for the private sector. Microsoft releases Windows 95 and its first version of Internet Explorer (yay…). Java is released by its former owner Sun Microsystems. Amazon, Craigslist and the awesomeness of Geocities debut. Geocities is a web hosting service that gave inexperienced users the tools to throw together terrible looking web pages. Typical characteristics are clashing foreground background colors, senseless visit counters, broken links and pre-Google pop-up advertising strategies to name a few. As terrible as the designs were, the hosting services created the opportunity for individuals to get involved and contribute their personal expertise.
In 1999 the infamous Napster launches paving the way for future peer-to-peer file sharing services like Folding@Home, BitTorrent and Bitcoin. The browsing market was entirely dominated by Internet Explorer and Netscape, neither of which are used today. Okay some are still using Netscape…
Sites come and go, some are bought, some are sold.
The landscape of sites and services is constantly changing. Today’s champions may be tomorrow’s losers.
In regard to internet accessibility in the future, we will continue to see traditional business models like tiered plans and unlimited talk/txt/data fade away. They simply won’t be able to compete with pervailing wireless use. Eventually, the internet will become a public good like the library. Something we come to expect. Something our children laugh at us about, “You paid for internet!? Hah!” The internet provides too much for everyone involved to justify a charge from a private party.
And after that, Skynet.