The Internet – Past and Present

by | Mar 20, 2018 | Technology

Here at iNostlagia, we enjoy looking back at the past and sharing our stories and memories. One of the most significant changes in recent history is the growth and evolution of the internet. With information now accessible at the click of a button, it’s difficult to remember a time before this was possible. The early days of the internet were quite different to the internet we know today. Even within the past ten years, internet technology has advanced significantly.


The World Wide Web was originally launched to share information. Nobody knew at the time just how powerful and life changing the internet would become. The world wide web, along with HTML (the language used to structure web pages) changed the way information could be accessed and shared. The internet was originally invented in 1989 and launched publicly in 1993.

The internet at this time was basic and very different to our online experiences of today. One of the first commercial websites was Amazon, then an online bookstore, and AuctionWeb which later became ebay. Hotmail launched in 1996, giving people the ability to send and receive emails. Google also launched in 1996 and is now one of the biggest search engines worldwide.

At the time, websites were more like directories, simply providing information. A far cry from the glossy, immersive and content filled websites of today.

The 90s will always be remembered as the decade we first started to use websites, however, the 00s had something even more compelling in store… social networking.


2001 saw the launch of Wikipedia. Now one of the biggest databases of information, it was relatively small when it launched but quickly grew due to it’s popularly and the release of more information into the public domain. Apple iTunes also launched in 2001 giving people a platform to legally download music. Skype launched in 2003, proving just how far the internet had progressed within a decade as people could now talk to each other online.

2003 saw the emergence of various social networking sites. The professional networking site Linkedin launched in May 2003 and the social site MySpace launched in August of the same year.

Perhaps the most significant social network to emerge was Facebook which launched in 2004. The site was originally only available to university students, however the site grew quickly and eventually became accessible to everyone.

It may be difficult to imagine the internet without youtube, however the video sharing platform has only existed since 2005. It has grown massively since its early days, video sharing and vlogging are now commonplace yet this was relatively unheard of in the 90s and early 00s.


The use of Apps and Smartphone are a big part of our daily lives. The use of smartphones is relatively recent with the first iphone launching in 2007 and the Android operating system launching in 2008. Smartphones changed the way we access the internet. The ability to browse information, stream video and shop on the go was revolutionary, as was the introduction of Apps. Apps enable us to add additional functionality to our smart devices, as well as play games and interact with people. Looking back to a world before smartphones, it’s clear to see how far internet technology has come in the past decade.


The internet today is immersive, intuitive and easily accessible, even on the go. We can purchase items at the click of a button, download and stream information wherever we are and ask our devices questions with the use of applications such as Siri and Cortana.

Websites are now responsive, meaning that they can adapt to any screen size or device. Web design trends have evolved significantly over the years. Websites are designed to provide an experience for the use rather than simply providing a catalogue of information.

Advances in internet technology has also enabled us to watch TV and stream films differently to how we used to in the past. Do you remember watching films on VHS? Platforms such as Netflix enable us to watch TV and movies on demand, quite different to how we used to watch TV and films in the past.

We rely heavily on the internet nowadays. Do you remember the days before sat nav when you had to rely on a road maps to plan your journey? The internet has definitely made a lot of things easier and will likely continue to do so in the future.

Written by Emma Schwartz