We regularly refer to the Internet as an ever-changing entity. It has moved so quickly, and changed so much over the years, that it is barely recognisable in comparison to its original conception.
The Not So World Wide Web
Before we can look at how much it has changed, we have to look at what the web was like in the early years. Although The World Wide Web (as in www.) was created in 1989, the first iteration of what could be referred to as an “internet” goes back as far as the 1960’s. We say “could be”, because it is vastly different to what we regularly use today.
We spent ages trying to find some images of the Arpanet, but screenshot capabilities weren’t built into computers until the early 90’s, meaning they are incredibly hard to come by.
However, we did manage to find the first ever web page posted to The World Wide Web. Here it is from back in 1992 (no screenshots were taken before then):
This page was set up with the intention of informing people how to create their own webpages, and explained more about hypertext. Compare that to the beautifully designed and incredibly functional websites of today, and you can see that there is a massive difference.
Google changes everything
Despite a few advancements in terms of design, and a few viral hits (does anyone remember hamsterdance?) the Internet was a relatively small and quiet affair throughout the late 80’s/early 90’s. To be honest, with the prospect of hearing that awful dial up tone every time you logged on, we’re not surprised. Then something came along that changed the Internet forever. Google happened. In the early days, in which there weren’t many websites around, Google didn’t make much of an impact. As usership of the Internet increased, and more web pages began appearing, Google began introducing algorithms to more accurately index its content. They are the closest we have to a ‘governing body’ of how websites should work.
Without Google (and other big search engines that followed shortly afterwards) we wouldn’t have SEO, which is a huge part of what drives the Internet today.
The ‘Birth’ of Social Media
Social media is huge. With Facebook constantly wrestling with Google for the most visited website (Facebook has actually secured the top spot a number of times), and the rest of the big social media platforms on its heels, social media has practically taken over the Internet.
When first set up, The World Wide Web was intended for use to share information and facts. Now, the Internet is filled with people’s opinions, photos, and life stories. There are more than 100,00 friend requests, 500,000 tweets, and 190 billion emails sent a day; we are harnessing the power of the web as a communication tool now more than ever.
Back to the point…
So, we’re trying to answer the question of how much the web has changed. The answer is, “a lot”. From the first text-based web pages through to the fully interactive rich media today, we’ve so many things introduced over the years. Directories, search engines, social media, content sharing, responsive design, SEO, pay-per-click, CSS, parallax animation, HTML, analytics, and many other innovations have helped to shape a World Wide Web that is not only informative, but interactive and social as well.