The internet as we know it today has evolved greatly. It remains undeniably one of the fascinating things in the world that have undergone metamorphosis at a higher rate than any other thing. But have things changed for the better or the worst?
Sometimes I think things were better back then when the internet was sh*t! Yes, we used the slow dial-up network, but we had mad fun on the internet, sending “meaningful” messages, torn down monochromatic emojis and pixilated photos.
Things were good back then, there was no multi-tasking. If you were chatting with someone, you would finish the conversation before going to other tasks. But today, people open multiple tabs and web browsers. You will find me chatting on one, sending email on the other, updating status on another and uploading photos on another tab! This is just crazy.
How I miss those days when you would courteously tell your friend “BRB” instead of just jetting out of a chat. Today, if you do see blue ticks, you should just know am not there. I feel it is a rude way of saying BRB!
As usual, let us take a trip down the internet memory lane and see how things used to be when the internet was basic.
How was the internet before Facebook?
About 31 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. The idea gained popularity very first. The internet made it easy for people to link pages on the web which came to become the World’s largest collection of pages as we know it today.
The programming language back then was simple to use, and publishing was easy with only one upload step needed. You may have heard people talk of the simpler times of the early internet when we didn’t have technology at our fingertips.
People utilized chat rooms and phone calls to communicate with friends. Not the chat rooms we have today for WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook etc. No. They were basic chat rooms with a simple and pixelated display.
The Nostalgia in Looking back in time
I love the nostalgia I get when I go to the Wayback Machine and look at archived versions of the websites that were a force to reckon with back in the days. Do you remember when AOL and Messenger were multibillion-dollar companies with millions of subscribers all over the world?
We all take the internet for granted now, and look at it as a normal service, like any other. Although, we fail to remember, that it was not around when some of you were young. The speedy development of the internet in the last 20 years has touched all aspects of life. Almost every essential service depends on the internet right now or is powered by something that is provided over the internet.
Some interesting facts about the Early Internet
1. First YouTube Video Upload: Did You know that first YouTube video ever was shot at the San Diego Zoo?
Yes, the first-ever YouTube Video to be uploaded has over 134Millon view right now. It was uploaded on 23rd April 2005. It was a video of a guy talking about how cool the elephants are at the San Diego Zoo. It is called Me at the Zoo. About a year later, Google acquired YouTube for a whopping $1.65 Billion, the rest as we know is history.
By 2019 YouTube reported that they get over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute, which translates to about 30,000 hours of newly uploaded content every hour. These figures have drastically increased recently due to the pandemic, as many people have been forced to resort to YouTube since the lockdown.
2. What about the First Tweet Ever?
Many of you may not categorize Twitter as one of the marvels of the early internet. But unfortunately, it is. Twitter is among the social media platforms that changed the way we communicate, it even changed the way we perceive the news.
I find myself checking on Twitter to confirm whether some piece of news is real or fake. That is the power that Twitter currently holds. The trending section on Twitter is the most-watched, and most followed of all the news related feeds on the internet.
But how did we get here?
From a simple Tweet by Jack Dorsey that was made on 21st March 2006. All he said was, “just setting up my twttr”. That was a simple line that opened up a whole new world of possibilities in the chatting world. Dorsey was one of Twitter’s co-founders. Well, this was most likely an automated tweet, it remains the first to ever show up on Twitter, that is almost 14 years ago. And yes, it was called twttr at the time, before the name was changed to the now Twitter.
Now, here goes the first Tweet to have ever been written by a human being:
This one was written by Jack a day after the automated tweet. He was inviting his coworkers to the new Twitter. I bet he had no idea that it will one day be a mammoth network that would turn out to be a favourite of Americans top leaders, celebrities, companies and all sundry.
3. What about Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopedia. And yes, they also had their “first-time” moments. Well, unlike the social media platforms, it is hard to establish who was first on Wikipedia because it had loads of contributors from the onset.
There were no edits on Wikipedia at its launch on January 15, 2001. But on July 1st, 2001, Jimmy Wales, one of the Wikipedia creators wrote “Hello World”. The edit has since been removed, but it was recorded as the first post on Wikipedia.
4. On Amazon: The first product ever to be sold!
What about Amazon? The mammoth eCommerce website also had its first-time moments.
Amazon has millions of items available for sale currently. Have you ever stopped and wondered what could have been the first product to have ever been sold on Amazon?
Well, shockingly, the first item to ever been sold on Amazon was a Paperback book. Amazon came into existence in 1994, thanks to Jeff Bezos, who is currently one of the richest people in the world.
Amazon published its first book, “The Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies; Computer Model of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought,” By Douglas Hofstadter. Interestingly, the book is still available on Amazon, including the Kindle version!
5. What about eBay? What did they sell first?
The first product that was sold on Amazon was a book. That was ok, for an online bookstore at the time. What about eBay? eBay packaged itself as an eCommerce site that sells everything from right out of the bat. They could sell used hats, dressing mirror, hiking boots and other items. It allowed users to search for whatever they are looking for.
What was it? Wait for it….
A broken lesser pointer. He sold it at $14! The collector knows the laser was broken and explained to Omidyar that he was collecting broken laser pointers.
This got me thinking, that the small things we do, thinking that it has no future, can make a huge impact in future, if only we stay on them long enough to see them growing into a huge business.
The internet provided a platform, for these inventors to come up with innovations that we cannot live without at the moment. The inventions have turned into multi-billion businesses with millions and even billions of people using the services every day.
The early internet was a virgin at the time, with hundreds of opportunities.
The above act as a reminder of how young the internet is if we look at the big picture. Despite the existence of the first website, most of the popular websites of today were developed in the last 20 years. These websites were a product of patience, resilient, risk and passion.
The internet is changing at an alarming rate which will mean that some things from the past will be forgotten fairly soon. MySpace, for instance, is not completely dead but it’s a good example of a site that grew remarkably quickly and then sank as fast.
The internet has a lot to offer at any one time, but it requires the participants and the drivers alike to be on toes with the development and user behaviours to remain relevant for many years to come.
I can’t wait to see what will come next after Facebook, WhatSapp, Twitter etc. Maybe we may not be alive to witness it? Maybe the next revolution is around the corner? I have no idea.
What do you think?
What will be the next big thing on the internet?