Friday, February 26, 2010

How Big is the Internet

We use the Internet almost every day without paying attention to how big it has gotten since its inception in the early 70's when it was a tool for the Military and Government offices to communicate with each other via email. These were the early days when inadvertently, the experiment of replacing regular post by electronic mail was being conducted. The first access to the internet to the general public became available in the late 70's to early 80's thru academic institutions, mainly Universities. Incidentally, this was the period when the young and the restless minds in USA and Europe took a fascination to developing computers for the home instead of businesses. Radio Shack, Apple and later IBM came up with their versions of PCs for the first time that were sold to ay one who could afford it. However, this process nearly died as people who bought their first PCs became disheartened with its limited ability to do math and create spread sheets and text documents. It somewhat flourished in the Academia world as the more intelligent types who could tackle DOS had better success with the PC than the common folk. The big break thru came when Apple introduced its version of "Windows" followed in a few years by Microsoft. Both based on GUI or Graphical User Interface System in which the user avoids typing commands in code but instead points to Graphical Objects with the mouse or keyboard to enter commands. This was the big break which made PCs more meaningful and useable to the common man without having to deal with the code. This made a huge difference to the common person on the street as creating, storing, and transmitting documents became so much easier. In the early to mid 90s when email started getting popular AOL was one of the first to popularize email by their famous slogan "You got Mail". From here on the possibilities of what you could transmit via email ( and hence the internet) became limitless. Beyond the mere transmitting of text documents a great desire to transmit files like pictures, sound and video was not only felt but was demanded. Many creative developers soon met this demand and profited from it. In the mid 90s when Google first stepped on the scene with their free email service no one could guess at that time how it would impact our future and the future of the Internet. Lastly, when Wikipedia was introduced not only the Internet was accessible to all the World but the World had been changed by the Internet so much that it will never be the same again.

If I have to give credit to companies that have had a real impact on the development of the PC it would be Radio Shack, Apple and Microsoft and the companies that have transformed the Internet to do all the things it does for us today would be Google and Wikipedia.

Please see below graphical presentation of how big the internet is courtesy of Matt Buchannan at

Send an email to matt buchanan, the author of this picture, at