22 Milestones – The World Wide Web Turns Age 20 Today!

22 Milestones – The World Wide Web Turns Age 20 Today!

By Ralf Skirr.

Birthdays are important as they signify life and a great beginning. That is especially true when we are talking about the birth of the internet, of the World Wide Web.

Some think that the internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing; people use these two terms interchangeably, in fact. However, they are actually two very different things. The internet and the first internet message was sent over 40 years ago, but the websites, delivery of information, and user interaction that we are so familiar with today only started with the WWW Project in 1991.

WWW Project

Back in the 80ies, the internet is a place where physicists share information. If you are a common folk, there is no way that you can access the internet and use it for personal or business gains.

Fortunately, in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee realized that for the internet to grow, it should be a platform not only for experts but for everyone. That is the year that the World Wide Web is conceived and given birth to.

And today, my friend, that is what we celebrate—the World Wide Web’s 20th birthday.

The world wide web has reshaped the world.

  • New industries and new professions have been created.
  • Millions of online and offline businesses only exist because of the internet.
  • Work became location independent, for workers as well as for business owners.
  • Organizations, businesses and governments manage and interconnect their work online.
  • Applications move from PCs to online servers, soon bringing an end to the classic desktop PC.
  • On the downside new threads emerged, making governments and businesses more vulnerable than ever before.

Looking Back at Yesterday

Twenty years has brought along a lot of changes to the World Wide Web. From coding to user interaction and to graphic presentation—the internet has evolved from static to brimming with life and activity. As we commemorate this great day, let us look back at 22 particular events, or milestones, that made the World Wide Web that we know today…

1990-1991: The Birth Year

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, the man behind the WWW Project, launches the first web server and the first site that is still online today info.cern.ch. This website, and his WWW project, started free use of the internet and is the reason why we are all able to convene in a virtual world and easily share information.

1993: Infancy

The World Wide Web continuously and rapidly grew. Enthusiastic marketers began to start online campaigns, using websites and emails to deliver information and advertisements.

Sadly, in1993, “spam” gets commonly accepted as term for unsolicited email. Email marketing gets its bad name, making business harder for serious marketers.

On the upside, the first web cam is used in the same year. The first image it captured is of a coffee maker in a computer lab in Cambridge University. The popular coffee machine stays online until 22nd August 2001.

1994: Access for All

While the internet has become free for use, there is no doubt that in 1994 a certain amount of knowledge of computers is still necessary. Fortunately, in 1994, Netscape Navigator makes WWW accessible for non-geeks. It's the first popular internet browser.

1995: Start of Today’s 3 Top Sites

In 1995, three big websites and corporations emerge: Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay.

We all know that Yahoo created a search engine and news portal, but do you know that Amazon made affiliate marketing popular? Yes, when we are talking about the easiest and most lucrative form of internet businesses, you can count on Amazon being its forefather. Amazon became the number one online shop it is today through its affiliate marketing program. In the year 2011 countless other businesses use affiliate partners for promoting their products and services.

1995 also saw the birth of eBay—today’s most favored site when it comes to private selling and small internet businesses using eBay as their affordable and easy to use ecommerce platform.

1996: Internet Explorer and Flash Takes the Scene

With the internet becoming a necessary part of businessmen and common folks’ lives alike, Microsoft finds the need for a new and reliable browser. Thus, in this year, it integrates Internet Explorer into its Windows operating system. At its peak IE reaches a market share close to 70%, 15 years after its introduction IE has a market share around 40%.

1996 also marks the release of Macromedia Flash, the software that is used to create multimedia applications for web sites.

Sidenote – Everything Is Impermanent. The year 2011, in my humble opinion, marks the soon to be celebrated death of the Flash format, thanks to HTML5, CSS3, and web developers coming to their senses.

1998: Go Google

Probably the most memorable event in 1998 is the birth of today’s most popular search engine, Google. In this year, Google was incorporated by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, PhD students of Standfor University at the time. They used a friend’s garage as base and hired a fellow student, Craig Silverstein, as their first employee.

We all known what Google has become, and what a huge impact it has for internet businesses. It sends traffic to our web sites through search and ads. It creates new industries (SEO), and allows millions of people to make easy money online by simply putting adsense on their sites.

By 2011 it spreads into gazillion business ventures, frequently launching new services.

Such a humble beginning that rocketed to unimaginable heights, isn’t it?

1999-2001: Napster is Born

Today, we know Napster as an online music store and a Best Buy Company. However, it first began as a P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing company. Of course, it easily attracted attention, criticism, and lawsuits. After all, it is offering copyrighted materials for free—something that music and label owners can’t stand. It is eventually shut down by court order but was bought and revived into a music store by Roxio.

2000: Dot Com Boom Meets Its End

During the 90ies the internet is the new gold rush. Investors pour billions of dollars into seemingly promising startups, wihtout even asking how the startups ever plan to make profits. With this thought, numerous sites popped up in mid-1990s—all using “.com” in their web address, thus the term “dot com boom.” At this period, stocks are boosted and profits abound. Sadly, though, every beginning has an end. In 2000, the dot com bubble bursts, leaving a lot of loses and tears.

Sidenote – The New Dot Com Bubble. In 2011 Facebook's (still theoretical) stock value is estimated to be higher than $100,000,000,000.00. That's 100 Billion dollars, more than $130.00 per Facebook user. In 2010 the revenue (not profit!!!) per user was $4.00. The public will be ripped of again, the little guy / investor will lose his money, banks and CEOs get 100 Billion richer.

2001: We Get Wikipedia

What do people do when they want to get quick information about something? They open their browsers nad do a search on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia with information submitted by users, making it a continuous, collaborative project.

2002: Finding Friends in Friendster

One of the earliest social networks founded is Friendster. It is established in California by computer programmers Jonathan Abrams and Peter Chin. At that time, Friendster is the talk of the town, its creator being the cover, or at least feature, of numerous publications as well as by late-night talk shows.

Sidenote – Everything Is Impermanent. Although it savored its peak, though, it had to go through rough times, especially when strong rivals like MySpace came around. In May 2011 Friendster says goodbuy to social networking, and turns into a gaming site.

2003: MySpace and Skype Get on a High

In 2003 Niklas Zennström from Sweden and Janus Friis from Denmark create Skype, an application that allows users to make phone calls and chats via internet. For internet entrepreneurs it's another piece in the puzzle of location independent businesses. Skype will later be sold to eBay, and finally, in 2011, to Microsoft.

With social networks being a hit, MySpace came up strong after it is launched in 2003. In fact, it is named the most popular social network in the US in 2006 to 2008. Of course, that is until it got beaten by Facebook. Let's see what Justing Timberlake will do about that.

2004: Facebook, Flickr, and World of Warcraft

Facebook is one, if not the most, popular social network today.

Flickr is the most popular photo-sharing site today.

World f Warcraft or WoW is the the most popular multiplayer online role-playing game of all time. For me it's most of all an adorable internet business model.

Now, what do these 3 have in common? They are all established in the year 2004! Indeed, it is a year where the internet bears witness to sites and games that turn into legends.

2005: Rise of YouTube and Web 2.0

If there are just two internet things 2005 came to know of, it will probably be YouTube and Web 2.0.

For one, YouTube was, is, and probably will be the most popular video-sharing site. In 2011 it is the third most popular web site in the world, according to Alexa.

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly also popularizes the term “Web 2.0.” It was actually first used in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci. Web 2.0 is the shift from web site publishers pushing content to their web sites, and thus to users, to users pushing their own 'user generated content' to the web site.

Users now have the power to post their own articles and comments, publish their photos and videos, share their interests, and the like.

2008: Twitter Gets Tweeting

Today, people like things fast and instant. That is probably why fast food chains flourish. Perhaps it is also the reason why, when Twitter is introduced in this year, people hold on to it with much ardour. After all, who does not have just a few seconds to type their thoughts and share them with the world?

2007: Web Goes Mobile with Apple iPhone

The internet started on the computer, but it is definitely not where it will end. In 2007, Apple unveiled the iPhone, a device that does not only allow users to send SMS and capture photos and videos but also access the internet. It's the first mobile that makes browsing web sites somewhat comfortable. Without doubt, the iPhone is the frontrunner of the mobile World Wide Web.

For marketers and businesses the mobile web means having to expand their efforts, knowledge and investments on more platforms than ever before.

2008: Google Creates Android

Apple got iPhone, so what is Google to do? Having such a competitive spirit, Google came up with Android, a software stack for mobile devices. Android covers not only the operating system but also the middleware and key applications. Talking about creating an all-in-one system.

2009: Cloud Computing Soar to Popularity

Cloud computing is all about saving your files and installing your applications on web servers, instead using a local PC. Once this is accompliched, files and software can be accessed from any computer all over the world – as long as internet is available.

Cloud computing is specifically useful to internet business owners who are on the go, those who love to travel, and those who simply feel more secured with their files and other data in a separate web space. It's also great for backups.

2010: Apple's iPad takes the world by storm

Considering the still not so exciting web experience on mobile phones, and the relatively small market share of netbooks, the iPad is what finally frees the internet from the PC. Within a very short time, more people will access the internet from mobile and tablet devices than from traditional PCs.

Besides offering new platforms for browsing the internet, mobile hardware also introduces the use of apps (including the years before 2010), bringing the web and 'software applications' (how old people like me tend to call apps) closer together.

2011: Google+ Starts a Buzz

So, what is the latest in the World Wide Web today? Why, Google+, of course! Google+ is just launched on June 28, but it already acquired more than 20 million members. That is saying something considering it works on an invitation-only system. There is really no doubt that Google+ is the fastest growing social network ever. If it is able to continue its rapid growth once its beta phase is over, who knows just how much popularity and influence will it get? That will definitely be something to look forward to!

There are so many things that happened within the 20 years of the World Wide Web’s life that I probably just scratched the surface with this news. Nevertheless, it is great to take a moment, see how far we have come and dream of how far we will be able to reach tomorrow!

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