The public internet is almost 30 years old, and what we use today would be almost unrecognizable to the people who built the networks that came before. Stacker has compiled a list of 50 fascinating facts about internet technology, culture, history, and more, using everything from Buzzfeed and Pew Research to the Internet Hall of Fame.
Beginning with ARPANET in 1969, computer scientists realized they could use cables to link individual computers into networks. From there, they continued to build out bigger and better features until the World Wide Web stretched around the world and allowed users to add images and even sounds to rudimentary websites.
As more and more people used the public internet, computer scientists continued to make huge leaps forward in technology, innovations that, in 2020, we can’t imagine living without. From the invention of the MP3 came filesharing and eventually streaming music. From inventions like relational databases and sorting algorithms came more powerful and accurate search engines, changing the way people interacted with a rapidly growing number of websites.
We think a lot today about social networking, but qualities of social networks were pioneered by technologies like Really Simple Syndication—RSS—that let search engines get an easy heads-up that websites had new content. And specialized code like HTML, CSS, and PHP turned the plain, static internet into a dynamic, multimedia experience that’s accessed by 90% of all American adults.
Where will the internet be in another 30 years? If history has taught us anything, it’s that we have no idea what talented computer scientists and theorists around the world can dream up next. In fact, one of the key lessons from lists like this is how important it is to document what happens online—websites constantly disappear, companies go bankrupt, and different brands merge their online identities. Sites like the Internet Archive, founded in 1996 and with a catalog of tens of billions of website “captures” since then, help to secure internet knowledge for future generations.
Click through to find out more about the history of the internet.
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