A timeline of internet accessibility

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The internet has completely transformed our lives. What was once the pet project of a few scientists is now the most important communication tool on the planet. Billions of people around the world are now connected to the web.

Now, people in many countries expect to access the web not only at home and in the office, but also when they’re out shopping and socialising. Public WiFi providers such as Airangel help to ensure that individuals can connect to the internet via their smartphones, tablets and laptops when they’re in hotels, shops, cafes, bars and a host of other environments.



The following timeline traces the evolution of internet accessibility.

1989 – Foundation

The first recorded descriptions of a globally connected set of computers were produced in the 1960s. However, it isn’t until 1989 that proposals for the World Wide Web as we know it emerge. At the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), British scientist Tim Berners-Lee begins working on the project. Other names put forward for the system include The Mine of Information and The Information Mesh.

1990 – First website and browser

The following year at CERN, the world’s first website and server go live. They are run on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer. The scientist also develops the first web browser, known as WorldWideWeb.

1992 – People start ‘surfing the internet’

The term ‘surfing the internet’ is coined in 1992. Also, the line-mode browser launches. This is the first readily accessible browser. The same year, Berners-Lee posts the first photo on the web. It’s of a band called Les Horribles Cernettes.

1993 – World Wide Web technology placed in the public domain

In 1993, CERN donates its World Wide Web technology to the world and places it in the public domain. The National Centre for Supercomputing Applications subsequently releases Mosaic 1.0. This is the first web browser to become popular with the public.

1994 – Web purchases begin

One of the first known web purchases takes place in 1994. Someone orders a pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and extra cheese from Pizza Hut. The White House moves online too.

1995 – Microsoft releases Internet Explorer

In 1995, Microsoft releases its first version of Internet Explorer. Another event of note is the launching of Amazon.com. It describes itself as the ‘Earth’s Biggest Bookstore’.

1996 – Nokia releases mobile phone will internet capabilities

A further milestone occurs in 1996 when Finnish technology firm Nokia releases the Nokia 9000 Communicator. This is the first mobile phone that features internet capabilities.

1997 – Millions watch Mars landing

The rising popularity of the internet is highlighted in 1997 when a broadcast of the Sojourner rover landing and exploration of Mars generates over 40 million hits per day. This is also the year that Google.com registers as a domain.

2000 – Nearly half of American web users have made purchases online

By 2000, nearly half of American internet users have made purchases online and over 30 million people have sent e-greetings cards over the web.

2003 – Skype launches

In 2003, Voice over Internet Protocol calling and instant messaging service Skype launches.

2005 – A billion people online

Two years later, a major milestone in web use is reached. In 2005, over a billion people across the world are online. Also, broadband connections surpass dialup.

2008 – One in five mobile phone owners have gone online

By 2008, nearly one in five mobile phone owners have gone online with their phones.

2010 – Two billion people online

In 2010, the two billion mark is reached in global internet users. Also, 35 per cent of adults in America have mobile phones with apps.

2012 – Facebook reaches one billion monthly users

Highlighting the rising prominence of social media, Facebook reaches one billion active monthly users in 2012. The same year, South Korean music star PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ video gets over 800 million views over the web. Meanwhile, ecommerce sales top the $1 trillion mark globally.

2014 – Over three billion people online and counting

Now, there are more than three billion internet users around the world and this figure keeps climbing. The web is now a ubiquitous presence in many societies across the globe and with technology improving all the time, new ways of harnessing the power of the internet are continually emerging.



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