For those that missed it last week, on the 23rd of August, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Internet was officially publicly accessible for 25 years. (Keep in mind that this is the birthday of the public Internet, not the technology that makes it possible). Certainly an event worth celebrating – so here are (in no particular order) Sephone’s notable moments involving the Internet thus far!
The Dot-Com Bubble
The historic economic bubble, which took place from about 1997 to 2000, saw the quick rise of equity values in various stock markets. Related to the rising popularity and prevalence of the Internet, many business were born and died in this period (especially when the bubble burst). But some persevered, and are still well-known to this day – like Amazon! For more information on this event, check out this video series.
Every year, on April the 1st (better known as April Fools Day to some and Justin Russell’s birthday here @Sephone), the Internet becomes a vast expanse of jokes and pranks. The people behind the curtain do not lack a sense of humor, and each year is prone to relevant gags. Some are funny, but make no impact beyond the date and a good laugh – for instance, Google’s 2016 Mic Drop. Others, like the Tauntaun sleeping bag that was a joke item featured for the day on ThinkGeek, were met with such a response that the ‘joke’ had to become real.
Sometimes, bad things happen on the Internet. One such bad thing was the discovery of Heartbleed, a bug in server security that allowed for those proficient enough to steal quite a bit of information. Login information, messages, and the like were easily accessible thanks to a vulnerability in OpenSSL. Luckily, this bad thing led to a good thing – the issue was patched in a new OpenSSL release. This, of course, meant a lot of extra work upgrading any exposed platforms, which helps to make it so memorable. Here it is, immortalized in a relevant XKCD comic.
The Death of Internet Explorer 6
A prominent issue that arises with web browsing, design and development in general is the usage of outdated web browsers. This is why cake is baked when a prominent dinosaur of the Internet is finally put to rest. Internet Explorer tends to be a magnet for negative press, and the legacy of old versions of the software still being utilized certainly continues. The issue with this continued use of old software is both one of security, and also ease of access. As the technology that powers the web is developed, the software used to access the web must also be updated. Sadly, Internet Explorer has long held a tendency to update with explicit version numbers. This tends to make the process of upgrading a browser seem unnecessary, even though it definitely is. Luckily, Microsoft stepped in to slay their own beast, ensuring that the less than 1% of remaining users of the platform would move on, and experience the web more safely, and with a greater range of visual possibilities.
GMail and the Age of Better Email
Email has not always been a simple process – nor has it always been as beautiful as modern email clients make it seem. It is because of this that we remember the start of GMail quite fondly. Google helped to make email an accessible tool for all, but not only this – they also standardized the email experience. The layout of settings, as well as the overall appearance of the email client, has a huge impact on how businesses and people use the tool.
Kelly had this story to relate about the early days of email, to further illustrate its growth:
[…] I remember the first time I sent an email (1990-ish) to my boss who was less than impressed by the whole idea – we had a whopping speed of 9600 bps! I was embracing the idea since we had many customers that worked for the Government, NIH, CDC, etc. They used email to communicate. So I sent him an email that said something like = Don’t be an old fogey. Walked across the building and sat in his office and waited, waited. About 10 minutes later – it arrived. He said, “See Cotiaux, I told you this whole thing is a fad.”
- The Launch of Google
- The First Google Doodle
- The Launch of Facebook
- When Ask got rid of Jeeves
- Saying good-bye to table-based layouts
- The proliferation of WordPress
- Archive.org and the WayBack Machine
- Mobile Internet taking shape
We look forward to another 25 years of growth, frustrations and inevitable usefulness from the Internet. Feel free to share your historic stories in the comments below!