A bit OT - Urban Myths?

Paul Richards paul at freebsd-services.com
Wed Jul 16 16:12:59 BST 2003

On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 02:03:12PM +0100, Paul Robinson wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 10:50:49AM +0100, Paul Richards wrote:
> > Depends when you decide the Internet as we know it today started. That's
> > hard to put a precise date to. Demon had been around a few years but it
> > was still a relatively niche thing, mostly it was people like us using
> > the servive, the average person in the street hadn't yet caught the
> > internet bug.
> I'd disagree. In late '94 I was working in the first cybercafe outside of 
> London 
> to open in the UK. That means that by that point, there was a keen interest. 
> At the time there were about 5 ISPs in the UK. That was before the madness 
> my colleagues and I managed to inflict a few years later over at Telinco.

Since we're never going to agree on something as ephemeral as the start
of the internet I thought I'd go and find some facts, since it's
interesting to see how people's opinions of when things started are
different, based on their own personal experiences from that time.

I've picked an arbitrary but significant start date:

1984 DNS system introduced, number of hosts 1000
1985 symbolics.com is first domain to be registered on 15 March.
1986 IETF comes into existence
1987 UUNET is founded, number of hosts breaks 10,000
1988 Internet work infects ~6000 of the 60,000 thousand hosts.
1990 ARPANET name ceases to exist. Tim develops the first GUI browser.
1991 Start of JIPS, initially TCP/IP tunneled within X.25. The WWW is
     released by Tim. First web server installed outside of Europe.
     Linux 0.1 released on the net.
1992 Number of hosts breaks 1 million. 14.4k modems are introduced.
1993 Number of known web sites reaches 50. The media starts to take
     interest. FreeBSD 1.0 released :-)
1994 ARPANET/Internet celebrates 25th anniversary. 28.8k modems are now
     the norm. Linux 1.0 released.
1995 Start of .com bubble, registration of domain names is no longer
     free, main US backbone now routed through interconnected providers.
1996 33.6 and 56k modems become available. MCI upgrades US backbone from
     155 to 622Mbps
1999 MCI/Worldcom upgrades US backbone to 2.5GBps
2000 72.4 million computers now on the internet.

Anyway, a slightly potted history. I agree that there was definitely
stuff going on before 95, but that's kind of a saddle point in the
graph of the internet's growth as the early adopter phased peaked
and things were about to go mainstream due the WWW coming of age.
Things went really mad after 95.

I took all those from

I don't vouch for it's accuracy but there's a lot more interesting stuff
there too.

One interesting tidbit, which shows the madness of the .com boom. In
1997 business.com was sold for $150,000, which seemed outrageous enough
when I read it. In 1999 it was sold again for $7.5million !!

> Accepted. However, your memory is failing you here. In 1995 (not '93, not 
> '94) the Internet was much more mainstream than you remember. There were 
> prime time TV programmes about it, magazines all over the place, major 
> companies had jumped on board, etc. It obviously wasn't as full of useless 
> crap that it is now, but my Mum knew what the internet was back in late 
> 1994. And that's saying something.

The internet existed in 1994. The actual network was 25 years old
but it was still relatively small compared to today's size and the web
had barely got going. Note the big bandwidth jumps from 96-99 when things
were really growing very quickly. I think you were probably paying more
attention to things at the time than the average person on the street
was, so you might feel it had existed for a while at that point, but for
most people it was just about to become a commonly known thing which is
why the really big growth is after 1995.


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