It is difficult to believe that almost 30 years have passed since the folks at CERN and other research institutions first brought the Internet online. What is even more difficult to believe is the exponential growth that experimental linkage between academic and government computer systems has seen in just 30 years.
To put this growth into perspective, it took almost 130 years for the automobile industry to break a billion units, and even the ever-popular television has just under 1.5 billion television sets sold after 95 years of growing popularity. As you can see from the infographic, the Internet today has 2.7 billion people using the Internet every day, many of them for at least three hours at a time and on multiple types of devices.
As of 2012, you’ll see in the infographic by WhoIsHostingThis, there were 1.3 billion global smartphone subscriptions, with 55% of American adults using their cell phones to go online. This number is astounding, since the first 3G network did not launch until 2001, and 2007 saw only 295 million subscribers on 3G networks.
What do those people do on the Internet? Well, the short answer is: everything. The long answer is that the Internet has grown from a research tool to much more than that. People still conduct research on the Internet, of course, hence the popularity and success of Google. However, people also use the Internet for playing games, socializing, sending letters, shopping, and even ordering pizza. Whereas people once had to log into mainframes from remote workstations to access the Internet, we can now carry the Internet around in our pockets in the form of smartphones.
When Tim Berners-Lee and his crew at CERN first envisioned the World Wide Web, they saw it as a way to share information, but on a rather limited scope. Their concept was to provide a way for academics around the world to share and collaborate on research. At that time, the Internet was only available to government workers and the faculty and students at research institutions such as universities, and there was absolutely no commercial use of the Internet. Today, however, the Internet is dominated by commercial interests, and the Internet is big business.