Internet, also known as the World Wide Web, did not always exist. This is hard to believe for my 4 year old son. For him, it is natural and simple to play an Internet game, or sit with me to look at pictures of his favourite TV show online. So I decided it would be a good idea to tell him, and many others, a bit about how Internet became what it is today. I will keep it simple, avoiding the usage of technical terms.
Back on 1969, a network called ARPANET was born. This network evolved to be the Internet we know today. ARPANET was created by ARPA, which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency. ARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense of the United States. At first, ARPANET connected 4 educational institutions. By 1971, it connected 15. This network was not easy to use nor open to the wide public. People who used it (computer experts, scientists, engineers) had to learn a complex system.
As years went by, and thanks to the hard work of several visionnaires, this network matured and became easier to use, allowing more people to communicate through it. There was email. It was not as friendly as it is today, by no means, but it was easy enough for non-technical people to use it, to communicate and share files and resources.
The network grew, there was a lot of content and it became necessary to have easier ways to find the information. The first Internet index was created in 1989. It was called Archie. You had to learn a set of commands to be able to search Archie. The first browser, gopher, was a text browser. It was created in 1991, at the University of Minnesota, and got its name from the University mascot, the golden gopher. You did not need to learn commands to use gopher. You just typed in a number to select the menu option you wanted. The next step was the first graphical browser. It was created in 1993 and it was called Mosaic. Mosaic evolved to be Netscape, a very successful graphical browser. Then other graphical browsers entered the picture, like Internet Explorer. Browsers let us use the Internet and hide all its complexity from us.
They led to Internet’s massive usage. With massive usage, the number of Internet websites exploded. Nowadays, Internet is used by millions of people, and even little kids are able to surf it. It became a huge market, an important communications tool and a display for all kinds of businesses. If you have a business or offer a service, it is a good idea to have a website to show what you do and get more customers. Or use your website to offer valuable services to your existing customers. You can even create a website for your family or your class, to share items, display pictures… If you think about Internet, possibilities are almost endless.