Today’s Techie Tuesday is brought to you by J. N. Hups.
Edition 1, Volume 17
The Vast World Wide Web – Part 1: A Bit of History
The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. -Bill Gates
The Internet. You can’t get away from it. It’s the water we swim in, the air we breathe, the land we walk on. But how does it work? And who is in charge of it?
First, let’s look at some of basics of the web, starting with a little history.
The history of internetworking (or Internet, as we know it today) began in the 1950s. At that time computer communication took place only between computer terminals and their mainframe. This communication was called point-to-point. In the 1960s, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), funded by the United States Department of Defense, was able to create a shared network which permitted computers to communicate beyond point-to-point. They did this through “gateways” and digital networking communication methods that grouped all transmitted data, regardless of content, type, or structure, into suitably sized blocks called “packets.” In the 1980s, a unified Internet standard called the “Internet Protocol Suite” (also referred to as TCP/IP) was created, thus permitting a world-wide network of fully interconnected computers, and in the ’90s, ARPANET was decommissioned, releasing the “government only” hold on the Internet.
Before the World Wide Web, the Internet really only provided screens of text (and usually only in one font and font size). So although it was pretty good for exchanging information, it was visually boring. In an attempt to make this whole Internet thing more appealing, companies like Compuserve and AOL began developing what was called GUIs (or graphical user interfaces). GUIs added a bit of color and a bit of layout, but were still pretty boring and could not be networked. So along came Tim Berners-Lee, who created Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and, in 1991, brought this all together in what he called the “World Wide Web.”
Testing of the web by Lee first took place at CERN laboratories in Switzerland, one of Europe’s largest research labs. Shortly thereafter, browsers and web server software became available. By 1992 a few preliminary sites came into existence, and in 1993 CERN declared that WWW technology would be freely usable by anyone, with no fees being paid to CERN. In 1994, Lee formed Netscape, and by the end of the year over a million browsers were in place.
Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web probably saved the Internet. As of December 31 2011, more than 2.3 billion people – nearly a third of Earth’s population – use its services. Out of that number, roughly 140 million live in Africa (13.5% of their population and 6.2% of total Internet users world-wide), over 1 billion live in Asia (26.2% of their population and 44.8% of total Internet users world-wide), over 500 million live in Europe (61.3% of their total population and 22.1% of total Internet users world-wide), 77 million live in the Middle East (35.6% of their total population and 3.4% of total Internet users world-wide), 273 million live in North America (78.6% of their total population and 12.0% of total Internet users world-wide), 236 million live in Latin America/Caribbean (39.5% of their total population and 10.4% of total Internet users world-wide), and 24 million live in Oceania/Australia (67.5% of their total population and 1.1% of total Internet users world-wide). And since the year 2000, Internet usage has grown 528.1%!
The World Wide Web not only impacts life as we now know it, but also impacts you as a writer trying to reach the world. Not since the printing press have we been afforded the opportunity to “reach out and touch someone” on a global scale as we have today. So next time you get on your computer to send an email or access the Internet, remember–the more stuff you put out there, the more stuff people may read. Not only does this benefit you as a writer, but benefits the Kingdom of God as well.
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Next article: The World Wide Web – Part 2: Who’s in Charge?
Leiner, B. M., Cerf, V. G., Clark, D. D., Kahn, R. E., Kleinrock, L., Lynch, D. C., Postel, J., & Roberts, L. G. (2012). Brief history of the internet. Retrieved from http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet
Peter, I. (2004). History of the world wide web. Retrieved from http://www.nethistory.info/History of the Internet/web.html
Boswell, W. (2011). The history of the world wide web. Retrieved from http://websearch.about.com/od/searchingtheweb/a/webhistory.htm
Suggested book reading:
Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web (HarperBusiness, 2000) by Tim Berners-Lee