It’s been 32 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee shared his vision for what would evolve into the World Wide Web and 30 years since he realized his dream by launching the first website.
In the past three decades, the internet has revolutionized our lives in ways that are hard to comprehend. Today, over 85% of Americans walk around with tiny supercomputers in their pockets that can tell them any information they’d like to know. And while the past 30 years have been unprecedented, the internet shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, things are only speeding up.
So let’s take a little time to review significant and memorable milestones that the internet has created for us all before we buckle up for the next thirty years of growth and change.
An Internet Timeline
March 1989 – English engineer and computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee writes “Information Management: A Proposals,” which outlines his vision for what would become the World Wide Web.
1990 – Within a year of its creation, the internet accumulated 2.6 million users.
August 6, 1991 – Berners-Lee uses his first versions of HTTP, URL, and HTML to create the first website almost two years after the initial proposal, which remains online to this day: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html
July 5, 1994 – Jeff Bezos starts Amazon working out of his garage in Seattle.
1994 – The total number of internet users surpasses 44 million.
August 15, 1995 – The first version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer launches and quickly becomes a top browser of its time.
January 15, 1996 – One of the first internet “memes,” Baby Cha-Cha, becomes a viral email trend.
May 1997 – The first example of a social network is created at sixdegrees.com
September 1998 – Both Wi-Fi and Google are introduced to the world.
August 23, 1999 – Blogger launches and quickly popularizes blogging before being acquired by Google.
2000 – The internet reaches 412.8 million users just before the “dot-com bubble” bursts which wiped out over 50% of businesses founded in the four years previous.
May 27, 2003 – WordPress is released and grows into the most popular content management system used by more than one-third of all websites on the internet.
February 4, 2004 – TheFacebook is launched within North America.
2005 – Global internet use surpasses 1 billion users.
June 29, 2007 – Steve Jobs launches the iPhone, and the smartphone revolution begins.
January 3, 2009 – The first Bitcoin transaction occurs, launching the cryptocurrency revolution into orbit and simultaneously introduces the Blockchain to the world.
October 6, 2010 – Kevin Systrom posts the first photo on Instagram in early 2010 and launches the app in October, later sold to Facebook for $1 billion just two years later.
2011 – IBM’s AI computer named Watson plays Jeopardy and wins the $1 million prize, and the first commercial quantum computer becomes available by D-Wave Systems.
2016 – Total number of internet users reaches 3.408 billion, nearly doubling in 6 years.
2017 – Bitcoin has an unprecedented boom quickly followed by an unparalleled crash at the beginning of 2018.
2018 – The National Quantum Initiative Act is signed into law, establishing the goals and priorities for a 10-year plan to accelerate the development of quantum information science in the US.
2019 – Google claims to have reached quantum supremacy by performing a series of operations in 200 seconds that would have taken a supercomputer about 10,000 years (later argued by IBM only to take 2.5 days).
April 13, 2021 – Bitcoin hits a new all-time high of $63,000.
June 15, 2021 – IBM’s first quantum computer outside of the US goes live.
It’s truly incredible what humans have been able to accomplish through the development of technology, and nothing has contributed to these accomplishments more than the internet apart from fire and electricity.
If you’ve enjoyed revisiting the history of the internet, check out our article covering 12 Crazy Facts About the Internet, and next time you hop on your smartphone or computer, take a second and simply enjoy the opportunity.