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The Brief History of the Internet: From Dial-Up to Blogs to AI

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Posted October 19, 2018

When one looks around now, it’s hard to imagine the world without the internet. From online shopping to Google Maps, search engines to business calls to being able to instantly Skype your friend from half way across the world at any given time, it’s clear that the internet is everywhere, in every facet of our lives.

Image credit: geralt via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

And while the internet is now ubiquitous, the rate at which it spread and revolutionized society is in itself astounding. In just over 20 years, the internet has managed to spread to virtually every country in the world, forever changing the way in which business, commerce, technology and culture exists on the planet. But how did we get here? Below we’ll take a look at a brief history of the internet, from the very beginning to where we are today.

The Beginning

The concept of the internet was first described by in 1960 J.C.R. Licklider, who proposed a global network of computers and information centers. However, this concept was purely theoretical and wouldn’t be recognized until years later when network methods had matured enough to the point where they could be unified.

The ARPANET was one of these networks, and in 1969 the first message was sent between two devices, one in California, the other in Stanford. In 1971, various computers around the world became connected to the ARPANET and the first email was sent.

A man called Vinton Cerf would go on to create the Internet Protocol, which allowed computers across the globe to communicate in a virtual space. In 1991, the World Wide Web was invented; this took the exclusivity away from researchers and scientists and pretty much allowed anyone with a telephone line the ability to connect to the internet.

Dial-Up and Onwards

In the early 90s, companies such as AOL began providing dial-up internet service. Dial-up provided internet via telephone lines and modems (interestingly, at this point you couldn’t use your telephone and the internet at the same time). Although hard to believe by today’s standards, this was the beginning of high-speed internet and the start of what would eventually become the internet landscape we know today.

Hallmarks such as email, video streaming, the proliferation of open source content management systems, Wikis and so much more, all started to become commercialized and widespread. Mobile internet came to the fore soon afterwards, and along with it came apps for seemingly every purpose, as well as the sweeping tide of social media.

Today

The world is a different place to what it was before the internet exploded – it’s hard to deny that. But even now we’re on the cusp of an even more drastic change to our society. As the world grows ever more connected and technological innovations quicken, the development of artificial intelligence is becoming drastically more sophisticated.

How much farther can this go, and what changes will that entail? It’s hard to know for sure, but the way in which humans and machines interact and communicate is bound to change just as it did when the internet became widespread.

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