The evolution of the internet as we know it | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:48 AM, March 18, 2019

The birth of the internet as we know it

When you think about the internet, the first thing you'll draw a parallel with the World Wide Web or “WWW”. It's the first thing most people type into their browsers search box in order to reach their website of choice and it's been thirty years since the introduction of the technology which shaped the internet into what it is today.

Although the internet has existed for almost fifty years, it was in 1989 that Sir Tim Berners-Lee decided to connect all of its existing pieces, thus setting in motion the internet as we know it. While working as an independent contractor for CERN in 1980, he developed a prototype called ENQUIRE.  In an effort to streamline communication between researchers, Tim Berners-Lee sought to link hypertext with Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system during his second tenure at CERN. And so, by using similar ideas from the ENQUIRE prototype, he wrote and submitted his proposal for the project in March 1989. The document which was titled Information Management: A Proposal would be the birth of the World Wide Web.

The first website to ever go public is the CERN HTTPd way back on August 6, 1991, which was created as a means for sharing information about the World Wide Web Project. And the internet blew up from that point onwards. Tim Berners-Lee's creation and the subsequent release of the patent to the public in 1993 meant that anyone and everyone could host a website. These actions gave birth to consumer internet and by 1995 there were already 23,500 websites already registered on the internet. And that number currently stands at 1.6 billion, making the World Wide Web synonymous with the internet.

Without Tim Berners-Lee's idea which was dubbed as “vague, but exciting” at the time, we would not have had Google, Facebook, Amazon or anything the mind can conceive when thinking about the internet. Shortly after the inception of the World Wide Web, students at McGill University would create the world's first search engine known as Archie. The search engine is still credited as being the building blocks of Google and Yahoo!

When we talk about the internet today, the conversation is often marred by everything that's wrong with it – all the avenues for misinformation and wrongdoings finding its place on the World Wide Web. But currently, more than half the world's population has access to seemingly infinite amount of knowledge and information, 4.3 billion users as of 2018 to be exact. And much of the political, socio-economic and technological revolutions of the 21st century wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the existence of the World Wide Web.

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