Internet: A journey to the modern era

DeCode Staff
Apr 30, 2019 · 7 min read
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Internet usage is growing exponentially in recent times. India is growing at a fast pace and so its internet needs. We are at a point where we are connected to the internet all the time and our whole world crashes if our internet is not working. Internet is the backbone of almost all businesses.

Let’s take it from the beginning

In 1995, the internet wasn’t accessible to all and was a technology reserved for military and research purposes. Later, six cities were able to access it via phone line and people were paying Rs. 35/hour to access the internet. By 1996, people started opening their own websites and in 1997, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was formed to provide a transparent environment in telecommunication. These were some initial changes that laid the foundation of the internet in India.

The Early Days (1958–1994)

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This marks the birth of the internet. While the internet was at a developing stage, scientists were figuring out what we can do with it. They were experimenting with some new ways to connect. It laid the foundation of the internet. A set of protocols, email, search engine, browser and WWW were created. We still use it extensively as it is still the core of all the internet functions, however, it went through some enhancements over time.

1958: USSR’s launch of Sputnik during the Cold War resulted in the US establishing Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

1961: Leonard Kleinrock at MIT publishes the first paper on a packet-switching theory which is used later to send data through the web.

1965: Computers TX-2 in MIT and Q-32 in California are connected via a telephone network. Realising that time-sharing works well with packet-sharing, not over a telephone network.

1968: BBN Technologies wins a contract to build the first network switch.

1970: Packet-switched network Mark I is built to serve the NPL in the UK.

1972: First program devoted to (email) is created by Ray Tomlinson at BBN. Concept ‘name@destination’ is introduced; Network Control Protocol (NCP) is introduced for inter-computer communication on the same network.

1973: TCP/IP in the developing stage.

1974: Kahn and Cerf refer to the system like the Internet for the first time.

1976: The Ethernet is developed by Robert M. Metcalfe. SATNET, a satellite program, links the US to Europe.

1983: TCP/IP becomes the standard for Internet protocol. 1 January 1983, for this reason, is celebrated as the unofficial birthday of the Internet. Domain Name System is introduced to allow domain names to automatically be assigned an IP number.

1989: The Number of hosts crosses 100,000. Traffic rises and plans are to find a new replacement for the T1 lines.

1990: Archie, the first search engine, is created at McGill University, Canada.

1991: The first item to be purchased off the Internet was a Pizza Hut pizza in 1994. CERN releases the World Wide Web publicly on 6 August.

1992: The Internet Society (ISOC) is chartered. The number of hosts breaks 1 million.

1993: The first Web browser, Mosaic (created by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications), is released. Mosaic later becomes Netscape.

1994: The first Internet bank is opened: First Virtual. Yahoo is founded as Jerry Yang and David Filo’s guide to the World Wide Web (WWW).

The Dot Com Boom (1995–2002)

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India’s full internet service is launched by VSNL. Nokia releases its first cell phone with internet access. Later, Google was founded and different web services were started like IRCTC, and Wi-Fi became available to all. To standardise and monitor internet usage and its practices, the government passed the IT Act. This enhanced the use cases of the internet and added to its utility. Now, the internet became our one-stop solution to all our problems, entertainment, networking, etc.

1995: WWW edges out Telnet to become the second most popular service. Registration of domains is no longer free; NSF sells them for an annual fee of $50. Rajesh Jain launches IndiaWorld Communications. Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) launches India’s first full Internet service. Satyam Infoway is founded.

1996: Nokia releases the first cellphone with Internet access, Nokia 9000 Communicator, in Finland via two local networks. Ajit Balakrishnan launches Sanjeev Bhikchandani launches, a portal to get jobs.

1998: Satyam Infoway becomes India’s first private ISP. Google is founded in Menlo Park, California.

1999: Wi-Fi is standardized.

2000: The dotcom bubble bursts, numerically, on 10 March. Deep Kalra launches India’s Parliament passes the Information Technology Act.

2001: Indian Railways initiates online ticket booking via

Web 2.0 (2003–2015)

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Airtel started its own broadband services in India. Orkut, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube marked this period golden for social networking. This era boomed with an online marketplace in India like Flipkart and Snapdeal. The number of internet users reached two billion. Now, most of the houses had an internet connection. Instagram and Pinterest were getting all the attention as they were based on photo sharing. WhatsApp and Skype started with free calls over the internet. This period was a boom for social networking. Now, everyone is connected to everyone.

2003: Airtel launches broadband services in India.

2004: Mydoom, the fastest spreading email computer worm, is released. An estimated one in 12 emails is infected. Mark Zuckerberg launches the Facebook website. Google launches social networking site Orkut.

2005: YouTube is launched. Dot in (*.in) sites came into the picture.

2006: Twitter is launched. Internet2 aims to boost capacity from 10gbps to 100gbps.

2007: Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal start Flipkart. Google News launches Hindi service.

2008: Google index reaches one trillion URLs. Apple launches its first iPhone in India. Google introduces Chrome Web browser.

2010: Snapdeal is started as a daily deals platform. Photo sharing evolves with the launch of Pinterest and Instagram.

2011: The Number of Internet users reaches two billion. Mobile number portability is launched in India.

2013: The number of Internet hosts surpasses one billion.

2014: The number of Web servers surpasses one billion. Google shuts social networking site Orkut. Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19 billion.

2015: A debate on network neutrality gathers public attention after Airtel announced in December 2014 a decision to levy additional charges for making voice calls from its network using services such as WhatsApp and Skype.

Internet Omnipresence (2016-Present)

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India becomes third in internet subscribers and e-commerce is rising rapidly. Internet rates were soaring high in 2015 when people were buying net packs for Rs. 249 1 GB/ month and paying Rs. 249 for it. Data prices plummeted by 93% in the last 3 years. Reliance Jio changed the entire landscape of India. As of 31 January 2019, it is the third largest mobile network operator in India and the ninth largest mobile network operator in the world with over 289.44 million subscribers. It gave us affordable data rates with high-internet speed. Jio stormed the market and eclipsed the market share resulting in distress among other network operators. They failed to match the prices of Jio, hence, saw a major shift in their customers’ preferences. Jio is currently the second largest network operator, surpassing Airtel and catching up with Vodafone-Idea. It provides a base to other Internet-based technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and other forms of wearable tech. Now, lots of business run on Jio.

2016: India becomes third in internet subscribers and 40% of consumers prefer online shopping. Jio becomes the fastest growing network with over 50 million subscribers in three months of its public launch.

2017: Rural India penetration grew by 18% from last year. Jio has been a crucial factor to drive overall growth with the internet as a medium. It provided the entire Indian Market with 4G speeds at affordable prices, while its services were free for a year.

2018: Rise of IoT and connected devices came into the picture. In IMC 2018, Jio is ready to deploy it and it counting on proper infrastructure. Vodafone-Idea merged together as Jio took occupied a significant amount of market share. There are approx. 1.94 billion websites in the world.

2019: Google takes 7 billion search queries worldwide.

With the upcoming 5G rollout, we can expect the internet to be more omnipresent across mobile phones and computers to lightbulbs, security systems and cars. Technologies like IoT and AI will grow exponentially as the underlying support ecosystem will ensure a stable experience. We can expect higher data speeds and lower latency across more critical operations. Only when we look back at the history of the internet and how it became an integral part of our lives, we can see how far we’ve come.


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