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A fun, brief overview of the History of the Internet

The History of the Internet is fascinating when you take a bird’s eye view of the timeline – here’s an extremely concise view to give you some insight.

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history of the internet

history of the internet

A history of the internet

My, doesn’t time fly? It seems like only yesterday that we dialed-up to access the World Wide Web, hoping to hear that familiar “you’ve got mail” jingle. Since its early days, the internet, and how it’s used, have transformed tremendously. The Pew Research Center has put together a pretty cool timeline of major moments in the history of the internet. Let’s look at a few highlights:

1989: it was CERN before it was WWW

The internet was first conceived in 1989 as a project of the British scientist Tim Berners-Lee of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). At the time, less than half of American adults had ever even used a computer. CERN considered calling the internet “The Information Mesh” or “The Mine of Information” before settling on “The World Wide Web.”

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The web wasn’t made publicly available until 1993, when CERN essentially donated it to the world. By that time, AOL had established chat rooms and email, and that same year, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications released Mosaic 1.0, which became the first popular web browser. Said Wired magazine, “the web as we know it begins to flourish.”

1996: first phone with web capabilities

The web wasn’t around long before people realized it could be profitable. In 1994 was one of the first known internet purchases – an extra cheese with mushrooms ordered from Pizza Hut’s website, PizzaNet. That same year, the White House under Bill Clinton got its own website, Yahoo was launched, and spam and banner ads became a thing.

In 1995 we begin seeing many sites that are still around today, including the first dating site, Match.com, as well as Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, and GeoCities. Internet Explorer became standard with Microsoft’s Windows packages. The mid-nineties saw a huge upsurge in internet usage, with 77% of online users exchanging emails regularly by 1996 – the same year the Dancing Baby video went viral. That was also the year that Nokia released the first phone with internet capabilities. By 2013, over half of Americans would own a smartphone with internet access.

1999: consumers still use the web mostly for weather updates

But let’s review a few more highlights from the late 90’s, when citizens could watch the Mars lander, Sojourner, rove the red planet (’97), Google launched (also ’97), and Napster sparked an ongoing controversy about internet piracy (’98). Despite the influx of information on the web, by 1999 the 41% of American adults who are online were still mostly using the web to read the weather report.

2005: YouTube’s first video posted was of an elephant

The aughts brought about more ecommerce, more interactivity, and more of the sites we still use today, with Wikipedia launching in 2001, Xbox Live in 2002, and the iTunes music store, Skype, LinkedIn, MySpace, and WordPress all hitting the web in 2003. Facebook and World of Warcraft joined the ranks in ’05. By 2000 nearly half of internet users had made purchases online, and by 2002, 44 percent of people with internet access were using it for work. In 2005 we freed up our phone lines as broadband surpassed dial up, and YouTube posted its first video on co-founder Jawed Karim talking about elephants.

2007: internet used for voting in Estonian elections

The mid-aughts to the modern day was the age of internet access by cell phone, and more of our now-familiar sites began with Twitter in ’06, Groupon in ’08, and Pinterest and Instagram in ‘10. The internet also became a hotbed of political activity. Estonia was the first country to use the internet for voting in its 2007 parliamentary election. In 2010 Wikileaks exposed U.S. diplomatic cables, and in 2013 Edward Snowden made waves by uncovering a massive government data surveillance program. Egyptian revolutionaries promoted their cause via hashtags online in 2011, prompting the government to shut down the internet.

Dive deeper

Check out the full timeline at The Pew Research Center, which calls their timeline a “living document” and welcomes user contributions. Not only will you be wiser, you’ll rock it at your next trivia night!

#InternetHistory

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Tech News

Not just for gaming: How virtual reality can save PTSD patients

(TECH NEWS) Thanks to its ability to simulate situations safely, virtual reality technologies are proving effective in therapy for PTSD patients.

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Woman wearing a VR headset in warm sunny lighting, PTSD patients treatment

Over the last year, a great many people have developed a new and sometimes dangerous relationship with a new emotional state, anxiety. I know that personally I’d never had a panic attack in my life until the middle of the pandemic. For many these emotions have taken the form of actual disorders. Actual mental influences which affect everyday life on a large scale. One of the most common forms of which is PTSD.

This disorder has many different aspects and can affect people in a number of different and debilitating ways. Finding treatments for PTSD patients and other anxiety disorders – especially treatments that don’t involve drugging people into oblivion has been difficult.

A lot of these disorders require exposure therapy. Putting people back into similar situations which caused the original trauma so that their brains can adjust to the situation and not get stuck in pain or panic loops. But how do you do that for things like battlefield trauma. You can’t just create situations with gunfire and dead bodies! Or can you?

This is where VR starts coming in. Thanks to the falling cost of VR headsets, noted by The Economist, psychologists are more capable of creating these real world situations that can actually help people adjust to their individual trauma.

One therapist went so far as to compare it to easy access opioids for therapy. This tool is so powerful that of the 20 veterans that they started with, 16 of them no longer qualify for the categories of PTSD. That’s a 75% success rate with an over-the-counter medicine. I can think of antihistamines and painkillers that aren’t that good.

I’ve grown up around PTSD patients. The majority of my family have been in the military. I was even looking at a career before I was denied service. I have enough friends that deal with PTSD issues that I have a list of things I remember not to invite certain people to so as not to trigger it. Any and every tool available that could help people adapt to their trauma is worthwhile.

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Tech News

Tired of email spam? This silly, petty solution might provide vindication

(TECH NEWS) If you struggle to keep your inbox clean thanks to a multitude of emails, the widget “You’ve Got Spam” could provide some petty catharsis.

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Email icon with 20 possible spam emails on phone screen.

We’re all spending a lot of time behind our computers and inside of our inboxes these days, so it makes sense that some people—not naming names—might be sick of seeing several unsolicited emails a day from marketers and other unsavory businesses.

While we can’t recommend a mature, adult solution that hasn’t already been beaten to death (looking at you, “inbox zero” crowd), we can recommend a childish one: Signing solicitors up for spam.

If you do decide to go the petty route, “You’ve Got Spam”—a free email widget from MSCHF—has you covered. Upon installing the widget, you can configure it to respond automatically to incoming cold-marketing emails with tons of subscriptions to spam sources, thus resulting in overwhelming the sender with a crowded inbox and cultivating a potentially misplaced sense of catharsis for yourself.

The widget itself is fairly simple: You only need to install it to Gmail from the MSCHF website. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. When you receive an email from a person from whom you can safely assume you’ll never be receiving favors ever again, you can open it and click the “You’ve Got Spam” icon to sign the sender up for spam lists galore.

See? Petty, but effective.

The developer page does fail to make the distinction between the promised “100” subscriptions and the “hundreds of spam subscriptions” discussed on Product Hunt. But one can assume that anyone who dares trespass on the sacred grounds of your squeaky-clean inbox will rue the day they did so regardless of the exact number of cat litter magazine subscriptions they receive.

Of course, actually using something like “You’ve Got Spam” is, realistically, a poor choice. It takes exactly as much effort to type, “We’ll pass – thanks!” as a response to anyone cold-emailing you, and you’re substantially less likely to piss off the actual human being on the other side by doing so. Services like this are heavy on the comedic shock value, but the empathy side tends to lack a discernible presence.

That said, if you absolutely must wreck someone’s day—and inbox—MSCHF’s “You’ve Got Spam” is a pretty ingenious way to do it.

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Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?

(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.

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Woman holding book and a phone, with headphones, participating in Clubhouse.

Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.

If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.

Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.

But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.

Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.

A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.

Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.

It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.

As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.

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