The History of the Internet (Part 5)
In the previous video we saw mosaic as an example of one of the first web browsers. It’s really credited with bringing a large number of people to the web because they could easily install it on their personal computers at home. Mosaic was eventually sold to eventually became Netscape Navigator, which was then sold to a new company called Mozilla, and rebranded as Mozilla Firefox. So in a way you can think of mosaic being the early ancestor to Mozilla Firefox. Lynx was another popular text based web browser at the time, and it was actually co-developed at the University of Kansas, so it’s pretty close to home.
Another one of the earliest web browsers was line mode. Line mode was really the first widely used web browser of its time, and CERN actually brought it back for the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web. So if you go to the URL shown on this slide, you can actually browse the web as it looked in the early days in the early 1990s. So next, we move on to the later part. of the world wide web development, which is the rise of the commercial web from 1996 to 1999. As the World Wide Web grew larger and more popular, companies started to take notice and figure out how they could use the World Wide Web to connect new customers make their businesses well known. And eventually they figured out how to sell things on the internet. So for example, this screenshot is from Tiger Direct, which is a computer parts sales website. And this is the very first website that you can find for Tiger Direct using the Wayback Machine to see what it looked like in the early days. And so not only did TigerDirect have early webpages, but Apple computers was there.
And you saw the development of some companies that we have today, such as Amazon, that leads to the era known as the Dot com boom from 1999 to 2001. This graph actually shows the stock market during that time and you can see it peaked right around 2000 before there was a huge crash into 2002 and 2003. So what happened is the internet really had some unprecedented growth from 1999 to 2001. And venture capitalists started investing in companies that really believe they would be the next big thing. In theory with the Dot Com Boom, they thought that if you spent a lot of money up front, then eventually you’d figure out ways to make money down the road. Unfortunately, that really didn’t work out as well as everyone thought, and many companies went bankrupt within a couple of years.
There were some survivors, of course. But let’s take a look at some real sobering statistics from the Dot com bust just to show you exactly what’s going on here. Infospace was a really big company in the early days of the World Wide Web and its stock price peaked at 1,300 a share in March 2000. By June 2002. It was down all the way to 2.67 cents, the learning company which was an early computer software company, to behind things such as the Oregon Trail and the common San Diego video games. It was bought for three and a half million dollars in 1999 but sold for just 27 million a year later. Another early product on the worldwide web was geo cities. One of the first places where you could host your own website on the web kind of like WordPress and Tumblr are today, Geo Cities was purchased by Yahoo for 3.5 billion dollars in 1999. But it was officially closed about 10 years later at a total loss. Of course, from the ashes of the Dot Com Bubble rises the internet that we know today.
And the big thing we can think about that has changed the world wide web over the last 20 years is the rise of what we call web 2.0 and social media. With web 2.0. The focus is instead of a very few users knowing how to develop web pages, we have the creation of web content from the masses itself. Think about websites such as Wikipedia, but even Facebook and YouTube where a lot of the content is being generated by users such as you and I. You also have the rise of ubiquitous internet access. You don’t have to To be at a computer in a home anymore, or go to the library to access the internet, almost all of us carry around smart devices that we can access the internet at a moment’s notice. And we have access pretty much anywhere we go in the modern world today. Because of this, we’ve had the rise of mobile devices, and the easy access to data that we never thought it was even possible then. But of course, we’ve also had other things happen, such as the rise of search engines, the power of search engines, such as Google can’t be understated. In short, if Google doesn’t know about it, it’s really hard to find it on the internet. And so because of that, we can still be limited in the scope of things that we can see on the internet.
But with all of that today, the internet and the World Wide Web is a really core part of what we do as computer scientists and how we interact as humans today. And so I hope this video was really interesting in giving you some background and what the history of the internet looks like. In the next module, we’ll spend a little bit more time talking about the technologies to make the internet and the World Wide Web possible, as we know it today.