Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #199 5/8/2013

Question: How old is the Internet?


Last week the World Wide Web on April 30, 2013 celebrated its 20th birthday. Happy Birthday WWW! The Internet was created much earlier back in August 1969.

The World Wide Web (which is where the www comes from in Internet addresses/urls) is what most people think of as the Internet. It is the ability to look at web pages that are in hypertext mode (meaning there are links in the pages we are looking at that go to other pages) and that contains pictures and video and audio we can watch and listen to. We use our web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and others) to view those web pages.

The Internet is a group of networks connected together and was created in early August 1969 (about the same time we landed on the moon). Until the WWW came along what the Internet offered was you could communicate with other people through several message type systems and exchange documents but it was all done in plain text and all addresses were numbers like Libraries that had a lot of microfilm files of articles would transfer those to the Internet which made easier to get, but all plain text. The email was very limited and only the geeky geeks had email addresses usually. There were also files shared by people.

Tim Berners-Lee developed the concept of hypertext pages and the WWW and formally released those on April 30, 1993 to the public. From that point the WWW grew rapidly. It is hard to conceive now of a world where we had no email, web pages, picture sharing, listening to lectures and watching movies on the Internet but that was the world just 20 years ago.

I learned how to do HTML (the language web pages are written in) in 1995-96 while teaching at Swainsboro tech and developed the first web page for them then and my own web page. A student and I learned it looking at what was on the WWW and it has been a continual learning experience. When it started the few that had a connection to the Internet had a 14kilabits per second dialup connection that within a couple years went to 56000 (which some still use) then DSL and cable and where we have connection speed common of 6-20 megabits per second and Google is doing 100 megabits in a couple locations and we have speeds approaching that in some areas of Chattanooga. Speeds today are over 1000 times faster than 20 years ago. Audio, large pictures and video were not feasible in those early years.

Now we are entering the Internet of All Things which means not just your phone and PC are hooked to the Internet, but your house, refrigerator, furnace, car, and anything else will be connected.

The WWW is still young; remember it is still not old enough to buy alcoholic beverages in the USA, but does mean that anyone who graduated from high school in the last year or two or is younger have had the WWW all their life.

Thanks Clay for reminding me of the WWW birthday.