The internet has come a long way. It has become one of the most advanced technological entities in the history of human kind. It has also become an integral part of many people’s daily lives. Imagine a world without the Internet today – it simply isn’t the world anymore without it.
If you told someone in the 1980s that you would be able to communicate with someone in another country or city without picking up the telephone, sending them a letter by snail mail or sending them a fax they would probably laugh at you.
It’s hard to believe, but 21 years ago today (on the 6th of August 1991) the World World Web became publicly available. The creator of the World Wide Web (or WWW) Tim Berner-Lee posted a summary of the project on a newsgroup on this date. The WWW originated from CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). The creator was looking for a way for physicists to share information around the world.
At the time Tim Berner-Lee and his colleagues at CERN were the only ones to have web browser software. In 1993 this changed with the release of the first ever web browser, Mosaic. After this the WWW technology went mainstream. Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C) at MIT in 1994. This consortium was formed to create web standards and ensure that different websites would all work in the same way.
Since then, people started connecting to the World Wide Web using Mosaic, Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. If you knew a little bit of HTML you could build your own website. It didn’t matter where you lived or what you did for a living. Everyone was equal on the World Wide Web.
Before 2000 Sergey Brin and Larry Page were working on a little search engine called Google. Internet Service Providers like Prodigy, AOL and CompuServe were making huge amounts of money, until the technology bubble burst in 2000.
Post 2000 browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome made their appearance and Web 2.0 was created. Google starting dominating the search engine market and blogging and social networks became very popular after 2004 / 2005. Companies offering online advertising started turning a profit again. Facebook and Twitter have truly become a part of many humans’ daily vocabulary.
If you ask me, the World Wide Web will continue to evolve in the years to come. There is no doubt about that in my mind. Facebook has more than 901 million global users and it keeps on growing every day. Over 200 million Google Searches are conducted daily in more than 60 languages. The amount of global internet users is currently standing at over 2.2 Billion. It’s amazing that something that started so small has grown into such a huge global phenomenon.
There are currently more than 8.5 million Internet users in South Africa. There are more than 4 million South Africans on Facebook, more than 1 million on Twitter and more than 1 million on Linkedin. The amount of internet users in South Africa is on the rise monthly.
In case you did not know, Junk Mail was one of the first South African businesses to go online. The Junk Mail website was launched in 1996. Like the internet, our website has evolved over the years. The new Junk Mail website was launched on the 25th of July 2012. Since 2009 Junk Mail has also embraced social media like Twitter and Facebook, fully embracing the digital realm.
Without the World Wide Web many of you reading this would probably not have passed high school. Imagine doing school projects without Wikipedia? Imagine writing an old fashioned letter for every e-mail that you’ve send over the last 10 years? Imagine trying to catch your favorite music video without YouTube?
My point is, the World Wide Web should be respected and I would like to take this opportunity to wish the World Wide Web a happy 21st birthday!
Here’s to countless more birthdays in the future.