The People History Home

Internet history over 40 years

Includes information on BBS, Blogs, Browsers, Community Internet, Email, File Sharing, Forums, Identity Theft, Instant Messaging, Internet Chat, Internet Music, Internet Privacy, Internet Slang, Multi Media, Online Games, Online Shopping, Search Engines

The World Wide Web and the growth of Web Sites

The changes currently with web sites we visit are because of the faster Internet access we have available which allows us to view more multi media including video and audio.
And some of the best of these are from the modern news sites where we can watch on demand video of breaking news .
One major improvement is in the form of online advertising which due to the new contextual advertising models means any adverts displayed on web pages are relevant to the content on the page this allows for much less advertising and for the user experience to be enhanced by advertising not dominated by it.
The Internet continues to evolve as do the web sites we visit, As a webmaster I have seen changes some that are good and some that are bad but in general, providing the surfer keeps track of the sites he / she visits by creating bookmarks of them when they are helpful or funny or informative they will have a good resource for quick research of a subject or to be entertained.

Internet Phones or Net Phones using VOIP

VOIP is still the newest technology on the net but will possibly have the biggest impact on our lives over the next 3 to 4 years , VOIP is the technology used to allow Telephone Conversations across the Internet and therefore bypassing the current Telephone providers , the impact could be phenomenal as the combination of WIFI and VOIP Mobiles and Net phones will change many of the ways we communicate and also many of the ways we currently enjoy our Media ( TV , Music, Movies and much more ).
The changes to the landscape for communications and ease of use and functionality will only be seen when the technology becomes more mainstream and more subscribers join. History of Mobile Phones
There are some major hurdles which will need to be sorted not the least being that currently a high percentage of the Internet traffic travels through those same Traditional phone and cable companies fibre and routers and if Internet VOIP takes off they will lose the income that funds those fibres and routers .
Governments round the world will need to address this prior to a mass exodus from current communication companies at the same time as the Traditional Phone companies will need to adapt their business plans to embrace the new technology rather than fight it.
And many of the current offerings of mobile phone contracts will need to adapt or may well find themselves left in the cold.


When the Internet first appeared and for a number of years until 1966 the main browser in use was the Netscape browser which you needed to purchase to browse web sites on the Internet, in 1996 Microsoft changed the browsing techniques of thousands by giving a browser away for free and within a very short time combined with the free browser and also installed on 90% of new computers it became dominant in the same way Windows did on the PC, there are currently now 4 main browsers used for surfing the Internet,
Microsoft Internet Explorer 95.4% ( currently ver IE7 )
Mozilla Firefox 1.6% ( currently ver 1.5 )
Safari 1.6% used on the Apple Mac.
Netscape Navigator 2.5% ( currently ver 4 )
The current browsers now support tabbed browsing with multiple tabs
RSS Readers
Below is a brief history of browser releases
Mosaic browser 1993
Netscape web browser 1994
Netscape 1.2 1995
Netscape Navigator 2 1996
Internet Explorer 3 1996
Opera 2.1 1996
Netscape Communicator 4.0 1997
Internet Explorer 4 1997
Opera 3 1998
Internet Explorer 5 1999
Netscape 6.0 2000
Opera 6 2001
Internet Explorer 6 2001
Safari for Mac 2003
Mozilla Firefox 1 2004
Mozilla Firefox 1.5 2005
Internet Explorer 7 2006

Multi Media Video Music news the changes in our expectations

With the advent of high speed Internet the growth in use of multi media online ether as part of website design or allowing viewing of funny video clips or current news clips is signaling the start of the next revolution where we will be able to watch live TV or breaking news on laptops or even Mobile phones using WIFI connectivity.
Many of the changes have been enabled through new compression techniques for video, audio and photos which allows for streaming of the media directly to our computer's browser or media player and higher Internet access speeds. As the Internet continues to evolve I feel sure more multi media advertising will invade our Internet experience or similar to TV advertising will be integrated into any media we watch and listen to.
Currently the use of multi media on the net has been limited to news, music and funnys but hopefully as it continues to evolve other uses can be found for help guides or information.
It is very easy to forget that the Internet is only a few years old and still maturing and the use of multi media will only be limited by our imaginations ability to keep up with the technology , only a few years ago nobody would have thought you could watch pictures and talk live through a webcam to somebody across the other side of the world and as each change occurs the quality and speed improves in leaps and bounds, now with the advent of VOIP, WIFI and the new generations of phones that will appear in the next few years we will not even need to be sat at our computers to experience live video and sound conversations around the world for very low costs.

Online Shopping through the Internet

With the advent of the Internet in the last few years and the major adoption of credit cards , it was not difficult to predict the growth of Internet shopping it provides all the advantages of the old catalogue shopping ( wide choice, discount prices, no pressure selling, ) together with modern technology to manage and track your order. In the beginning a new breed of Entrepreneurs appeared selling anything and everything on the Internet but one important factor was missing from the mix TRUST so although there were a number very successful companies it was not until the well known Bricks and Mortar companies moved online that Internet shopping really took off as it meant the many advantages of Internet shopping could now be combined with the trust of buying from a large well known high street retailer .

Some of these major retailers who have a heavy presence on line are making a high percentage of sales on line and due to the cost savings are improving their bottom line.
Like most things in life shopping on the Internet does have disadvantages including having to wait for the goods to be delivered and a growing problem of Identity Theft but the credit card companies, banks and the retailers are all trying to find new ways to combat the problem through better checking and verification routines.

File Sharing

File Sharing : This is the ability to make files available for other users to download over the Internet . Usually file sharing follows the peer-to-peer (P2P) model ( The files to be shared are on each persons computer and a central website helps users to find where files they are trying to locate are.
The growth of file sharing was mainly due to the use of MP3 History of HiFi and Music Players and Media format to store music files and share with others in the mid to late 1990s. and the big growth of file sharing happened in 1999 with the launch of Napster which made the glue to join all this together by creating an index for MP3 files on Peer machines.
The music companies realised that they needed to go after copyright infringement and slowly attacked both the sources and those companies enabling infringement, they then helped and promoted the Legal download of music through companies like Itunes.

Internet Music Downloads and changes in distribution

The changes in the Internet and file sharing started a revolution in music sharing and distribution, like many changes that have happened on the Internet the original concept was very different to what we are seeing today.
There were 2 main enablers for music distribution on the Internet the first was the introduction in the mid 90's of the MP3, a popular digital audio encoding and compression format, designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to store audio files.
The second was the introduction of File Sharing Peer to Peer networks. The distribution of music on the Internet is now an accepted form of selling and the faster speeds of Internet downloads together with the Internet maturing continue to help the growth.
As the VOIP revolution opens up new ways to distribute through mobile phones. We have also seen a massive increase of music distribution through the mobile phones becoming MP3 players both for listening to and as ring tones.
Another growth area is the ability for small bands not signed to a label to build a fan base by releasing their music for free on the Internet, some bands that are missed by the mainstream recording labels are building a reputation based purely on the Internet.

Search Engines

Below are some of Search Engines that have or do exist on the net to help us search the World Wide Web
Northern Light
Only 8 years ago Google who are the largest of the search engines did not exist but in just 8 years not only do they do more searches than all the other Search Engines put together the word Google has become a verb used by many to as a verb to search.
So what is a search engine and how does it work A search engine consists of 3 main parts
1. It has a piece of software called a bot that travels round the Internet reading every page and saving it to a massive storage area
2. It has a series of mathematical equations it uses on each page to index words on that page for retrieval by a searcher
3. When a searcher performs a search it uses a further series of mathematical equations to decide which page has the most relevant information to the search request often also using another series of equations to decide if the site could be considered an authority ( this may because of the number of users who visit how long they stay or other sites who are considered an authority linking to them )
This series of mathematical equations is known as an algorithm and when Google launched the algorithm the founders had developed made the relevance of the results better than any other existing search engine and quickly took off mostly by word of mouth and the fact the results were better than any others and the clean page searchers were presented with.
Most of the other major search engines around including Yahoo, MSN and Ask have now also developed better algorithms but all of them including Google are plagued with webmasters who try to reverse engineer the algorithm so they can be top of the rankings ( most often these web sites do not provide the best match for the query as the site and page is designed to beat the algorithm )more than provide the best information so all of the search engines are in a constant battle to provide the best results while combating these sites.
Many new ways using AI ( Artificial Intelligence ) are being worked on to provide better results but due to the massive amounts of data involved it will be some time before AI can be fully implemented.

Internet Privacy

continues to be a factor in our use of the Internet and as more companies find further ways to find, store and record our information the concerns individuals have will increase.
The issue of privacy is governed in 4 ways the first being the information we are willing to divulge to others when we fill in forms for registration on a site or when purchasing items on the Internet, this information may be sold or shared with others.
The second way for our personal information to become more widely known is through the use of spy ware being installed on our computers which enables companies to find as much or as little information as they wish to, My advice to all is to install an anti spyware programme on your computer to help stop this identity theft.
The third and most common form of a company knowing about our surfing habits is through the use of a cookie loaded on our computer when we surf a website, originally designed to help with navigation of web sites it has become more commonly used as a way of finding more about us and our surfing habits.
The forth way of tracking a user is through the IP address this is very specific to a users Internet session and can be used to identify location and surfing habits on a website
None of those listed above are illegal but depending on usage could be considered immoral and an attack on our privacy, but the next use is not legal and can cause serious problems to our lives, it is called phishing and is sending an e-mail supposedly coming from a legitimate company or bank we do business with trying to pretend that it represents the company when all it is for is to get us to enter our personal details including passwords etc. this will then be sold to criminals to use in fraud for credit cards etc.

Identity Theft do you have any experience

Many wrongly believe the chief cause of identity theft is from the Internet and although there is some through Phishing, spam email and spyware it is actually a small percentage of the cause.
Identity theft is the use of one persons name and details to commit a fraud or other crime by pretending to be that person, the most common use is with credit card fraud by using another persons card to buy goods or services, also Mortgage fraud is increasing using the same techniques.
Some of the other techniques used to obtain personal information for use in Identity theft are.
Stealing mail or rummaging through rubbish.
Eavesdropping on public transactions to obtain personal data.
Theft of personal information from computer databases.
Currently in the USA the number of cases has decreased but the amount of fraud has increased for victims of identity theft.
Some of the things to help protect you from identity theft are listed below
Shred documents and paperwork which contain personal information
Don't give out personal information unless you know who you are dealing with.
Never click on links in unsolicited emails; instead, type in a web address which you know
Use firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your home computer
Don't use obvious passwords like your birth date or your mother's maiden name
Keep your personal information in a secure place at home
Monitor your financial banking and credit card statements
Report fraud as soon as you detect it
Use reliable ATM's at reputable sites only.
Limit the amount of personal information you publish on the Internet.
When shopping online, make sure the company is reputable and displays an approved security symbol.
When handing over your credit card, do not let it out of your sight.
If you are away from home for long periods, tell the post office to hold your mail until your return or have someone you trust collect it

The Internet still new and changing daily

The Internet is still a young technology and is evolving all the time with new types of Web Sites and the speed and means of access changing and becoming easier.
How long have you been connected and can you remember your first Internet experience.
What do you like about the Internet now and what do you miss.
This webmaster misses E-Mail as a way of keeping in touch with friends and being able to open my e-mail inbox with just emails I wanted to read, NOT FULL OF GARBAGE .
The Internet really started at colleges and Universities, but did not look how we see it now, in the early 60's a number of computers were joined together using ARPAnet mainly from a few Universities and the United States Department of Defences's DARPA department.
The early networks consisted of UUCP and Usenet and Bulletin board systems.
The problem they had is as they were developed by different organisations each of the systems in place could not automatically communicate with other systems so in 1983 a standard was agreed that was the single most important development allowing the Internet to grow
TCP/IP , T ransmission C ontrol P rotocol (TCP) and the I nternet P rotocol (IP),
this is the underlying technology used to transfer information world wide. The description and meaning of an Internet "any network using TCP/IP ". Once a standard was established as well as universities, colleges and DARPA being connected companies in the computer industry soon joined followed by more and more companies.
In the late 80's and early 90's a number of companies offered connection to this new Internet ( Called ISP's ) Internet Service Providers allowing more and more companies and individual's to join. Many of the original Universities were not happy as they believed the Internet would become to commercial ( were they right!!!) .

Over the next 5 years new services were developed including E-MAIL, File Transfer, Domain registration and in 1991 the first browser was developed that allowed a standard way for information to be displayed using hypertext, pages started with the prefix WWW and the World Wide Web you now know and love was born.
With the growth of the Internet came a need to find all the information on the net and Search Engines were born first with Altavista, Lycos etc. and later with Google ( Google is a good example of the new breed of companies on the Internet ) Mostly it's growth was through word of mouth and it is now possibly the most dominant company on the World Wide Web.
I understand this article is a very simplistic version of the full development but I have tried to make it understandable by those with little technical knowledge please use our search facility for much more detailed information on how the Internet was formed.

Internet Chat

Internet chat revolutionised the way we keep in contact with friends and family and find new friends. Internet chat has now been around for many years and is based on a person joining a chat room and being able to chat with others often about a specific subject, chat rooms are usually moderated to stop those who wish to abuse others.
Chatrooms use a technology called IRC ( Internet Relay Chat ) to pass messages around and has been around since 1988 and was started on a BBS originally .
Many users first initiation to chat was from sites like AOL, MSN , and Yahoo where a small piece of client software was downloaded onto your PC ( the most popular being mIRC ) which allowed you to join chat rooms.
As the growth of Instant Messenger Services has grown and the functions including multi user interaction the traditional chat room is not as popular as it was , mainly due to not knowing who you are talking to .
Much of the slang used on the Internet came from chat rooms as it allowed those using chat rooms to type less just one example rofl ( Roll On Floor Laughing ) and much quickly moved into text messaging on mobile phones.

BBS Bulliton Boards

Before the Internet was embraced a number of Computer hobbyists used a BBS ( Bulletin Board System ) to keep in contact with other computer buffs . It was a text based terminal programme that once you were connected via an analog phone line using a modem allowed you to chat, play games upload and download software and data with others.
They were the first of the concept of a virtual community with people never having met in person or knowing other members apart from online.
Most Internet users now access the Internet through modems allowing 56 thousand bits per second or 56K, or much faster broadband or cable connections but when BBS's were in use many of the modems that connected via the phone ran at speeds of 1200 bits per second which is close to 50 times slower than our slower connection today The largest BBS network was FidoNet
Today the BBS survives as a niche hobby for those who enjoy running BBSes and those users who remember BBSing as an enjoyable pastime. Many BBSes are now accessible over telnet through software such as Synchronet

Social Networking and Community Internet

Social networking sites are the largest growth area on the Net right now , and could be considered as the future way of communication and social interaction.
The history of social networking since the old days of BBS through to the current offerings including Bloggs, Myspace etc. show that the user wants to interact with web sites and other members, and want to add their own comments and views.
The problems that are now starting to show are due to the open environment of these Community services including users publishing copy write material and views and ideas that can incite hatred and abuse of others rights. These sites will continue to evolve, grow and prosper but hurdles will appear and may well become harder to get over, just 1 example is the current legislation in the US to stop the access of these sites from schools and libraries that have public funding.
In addition due some countries increasing the amount and scope of Censorship, it is possible that many of these very successful social networking sites will be completely banned through a small number of articles or Bloggs. I am sure many others hope that the social networking currently available continues to prosper and improve the user and the net experience.


The forum was the next step from the original dial up Bulletin Boards from the 1980s and 1990's sites that existed before the Internet took off in a big way.
Forums exist to allow holding discussions on the world wide web, Specialist software is freely available to allow anybody with an Internet presence to hold discussions on any and every subject imaginable . The Forum was the first of the true community based software programmes where if you wished to be part of the discussions you needed to register, this meant that unlike a chat area any body who posted a comment could be held responsible and any rights to belonging revoked if the post was outside of the forum charter .
Small forums are often based around a single subject. Usually an "off-topic" often called FOO where users can post any items they find interesting. Larger Internet forums are in general more subject to public conflicts between users. Depending on the level of moderation there may also be conflicts between users and administrators. Like other forms of online communication,
Internet forums are home to many heated exchanges and opinions and can quickly become nothing more than a battleground for controversial opinions .
Often, administrators and moderators ask users to conform to net etiquette but even then it can be a full time job to monitor posts , if they leave a forum un moderated it may degenerate and become useless for discussion.


A Blog, is a type of website where you can make an entry similar to a diary .
There are 3 main ways a blog can be used
(1) A Blog or weblog allows you to offer your own views, commentary or news on a particular subject, these range from politics to news or even reviews of restaurants or other services.
(2) A diary with events that happened each day or outside events that have effected your life and you have created a personal diary that others can view.
( 3 ) A means of sharing photographs, video or audio with others.
Like all things on the Internet they have evolved and continue to evolve to use a blog you do not need to know anything about the Internet or HTML and do not need your own website, all of these functions and software is available for free on the Internet which is one of the many reasons the growth has been so quick

IM -- Instant Messenger

IM -- Instant Messenger goes back much further than many realise to the days of UNIX when a command called talk was used for one to one messaging.
But the IM we use today only go back to AOL messenger service for it's subscribers in the mid 90's and in 1996 ICQ was launched for anyone connected to the Internet and became a huge success at which point AOL purchased it.

E-Mail or Electronic E Mail Services

With the Internet came a tool which could and should have been the most important!! Email or Electronic Mail, like many of us who were early adopters of the Internet I enjoyed using and receiving e-mail, each time i received an e-mail it would be from friend or family or someone who I had asked to send me an email.
But now the spamming of e-mail has become such a problem even with using spam mail blockers still lots of rubbish emails come through and even worse e-mail from friends, family or a company who I want an e-mail from gets put in the junk mail. It seems a shame that something that was so pleasant and useful has become so abused by a small minority of greedy and thoughtless, selfish companies and individuals.
One more problem associated with email is receiving an e-mail that looks like it is from a legitimate company that you do business with like Ebay or your bank or credit card company asking for you to confirm your details in some way , they then provide a link that may look like correct but is actually just to get you to input your financial details so they can then use them in fraudulent activity and is called phishing, you should realise your bank or any other financial institution would not ask you to do this so if you receive any emails like this contact your bank or other company on a telephone number you have used before they will then report it to the authorities and hopefully the criminals will be caught.