How the Internet Happened
March 20, 2019
How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone
By 1990, only 42% of U.S. adults said they used a computer even “rarely.”
All of the various Internet protocols that developed, from the most obvious, such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and TCP/IP (the basic building block of the Internet itself), to the most recent and seemingly sophisticated, such as newsgroups, Gopher (the first true Internet search) and even email—all were complex to set up, unfriendly to nonexpert users, and, frankly, boring and utilitarian.
At the time, there were maybe a couple hundred software developers in the entire world experimenting with the web, and they all hung out and exchanged ideas with Berners-Lee on a Usenet newsgroup called WWW-Talk.
The key innovation of the Mosaic browser was Andreessen’s insight that in order to make the web sexier, he simply had to release a browser that enabled the sexiness he imagined.
Irony of ironies, the code that would be the basis for Microsoft’s web browser (and the weapon Microsoft would soon wield against Netscape) was a descendant of the same code written by Marc Andreessen
AOL has often been described as training wheels for the Internet.
perhaps the longest-lasting legacy of Netscape Navigator setting the standard for the early web is that, to this day, SSL, via its descendant, TLS, enables the vast majority of online commercial transactions worldwide.
This is a key evolution. In so many ways, over the last twenty years, the web and the Internet have slowly trained all of us to get comfortable interacting with crowds and, often, crowds of strangers.
The portals wanted to be all things to all people, and so they ventured into any adjacent areas that might prove lucrative.
Fortunately enough, the bubble era engendered a sort of fever for entrepreneurship that probably hadn’t existed in this country since before the Great Depression
The bursting of the dot-com bubble was the opening act of our current economic era, and the repercussions from that bubble’s aftermath are still with us today, economically, socially, and especially politically.
A whole generation of young people had, in the space of a decade, gone from being young upstarts who “got it,” to masters of the universe who seemed to be transforming the world, to completely redundant.
Apple showed a willingness to eat its young in order to stay on the cutting edge; to out-innovate itself before others ever had the chance.
Steve Jobs had leveraged the music industry’s crisis over piracy to destroy the business model of the album.
Google’s success was validation that the Internet as a social, cultural, and (most important) a financial phenomenon was not dead. The revolution had merely been regrouping.
If Web 1.0 was about browsing stuff created by others, Web 2.0 was about creating stuff yourself. If Web 1.0 was about connecting all the computers in the world together, then Web 2.0 was about connecting all the people in the world together, via those interlaced computers.
Timeline of Silicon Valley
1906: Lee DeForest invents the vacuum tube
1909: Cyril Elwell founds the Federal Telegraph Corporation (FTC) in Palo Alto to create the world’s first global radio communication system
1925: Frederick Terman joins Stanford University to teach electronics and electrical engineering and encourages his students to start businesses in California
1937: Alan Turing describes a machine capable of performing logical reasoning, the “Turing Machine”
1937: The Golden Gate Bridge is completed in San Francisco
1939: Fred Terman’s students, William Hewlett and David Packard, start a company
1946: The first venture capital firms are founded in the U.S.
1947: AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratory’s engineers John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain demonstrate the principle of amplifying an electrical current using a solid semiconducting material, i.e. the “transistor”
1951: The first commercial computer is built...
1956: William Shockley founds the Shockley Transistor Corporation in Mountain View to produce semiconductor-based transistors to replace vacuum tubes, and hires Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and others
Oct 1957: Several engineers (including Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore) quit the Shockley Transistor laboratories and form Fairchild Semiconductor in Mountain View, using funding from Fairchild Camera and Instrument
1961: IBM owns more than 81% of the computer market
1966: Hewlett-Packard enters the business of general-purpose computers with the HP-2115
1966: There are 2,623 computers in the US (1,967 work for the Defense Department)
1968: Phillip Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove found Intel (“Integrated Electronics”) to build memory chips
1969: The computer network Arpanet is inaugurated with four nodes, three of which are in California (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute and UC Santa Barbara)
1971: Ted Hoff and Federico Faggin at Intel build the first universal microprocessor, a programmable set of integrated circuits, i.e. a computer on a chip
1972: Venture-capitalist company Kleiner-Perkins, founded by Austrian-born Eugene Kleiner of Fairchild Semiconductor and former Hewlett-Packard executive Tom Perkins, opens offices in Menlo Park on Sand Hill Road, followed by Don Valentine of Fairchild Semiconductor who founds Capital Management Services, later renamed Sequoia Capital
1972: The Global Positioning System (GPS) is invented by the US military, using a constellation of 24 satellites for navigation and positioning purposes
1972: Ray Tomlinson at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman invents email for sending messages between computer users, and invents a system to identify the user name and the computer name separated by a “@”
1974: Xerox’s PARC unveils the “Alto,” the first workstation with a “mouse”
1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen develop a version of BASIC for the Altair personal computer and found Microsoft
1976: Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple Computer and build the first microcomputer in Jobs’ garage in Cupertino
1977: Larry Ellison founds the Software Development Laboratories, later renamed Oracle Corporation
1977: Atari introduces a video game console, the 2600, based on the 6502 processor
1980: Apple goes public for a record $1.3 billion
1980: John Doerr joins Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers
1983: The Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol or “TCP/IP” running on Unix BSD 4.2 debuts on the Arpanet, and the Arpanet is officially renamed Internet
1983: Apple introduces the “Lisa,” the first personal computer with a graphical user interface
1983: Nintendo releases the Family Computer, renamed Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S.
1984: Hewlett-Packard introduces the first ink-jet printer
1984: Apple introduces the Macintosh, which revolutionizes desktop publishing
1990: The “Human Genome Project” is launched to decipher human DNA
1991: The World-Wide Web debuts on the Internet
1991: Finnish student Linus Torvalds introduces the Linux operating system, a variant of Unix (pg. 513)
1992: The first text message is sent from a phone
1993: Marc Andreessen develops the first browser for the World Wide Web (Mosaic)
1995: Netscape, the company founded by Marc Andreessen, goes public even before earning money and starts the “dot.com” craze and the boom of the Nasdaq
1995: SUN launches the programming language Java
1998: Two Stanford students, Larry Page and Russian-born Sergey Brin, launch the search engine Google
2000: The NASDAQ stock market crashes, wiping out trillions of dollars of wealth
2000: Confinity and X.com merge to form Paypal
2001: Apple launches the iPod
2004: Mark Zuckerberg founds the social networking service Facebook at Harvard University (soon relocated to Palo Alto)
2005: Sales of notebook computers account for 53% of the computer market
2005: Yahoo!, Google, America OnLine (AOL) and MSN (Microsoft’s Network) are the four big Internet portals with a combined audience of over one billion people worldwide
2006: The Bay Area is the largest high-tech center in the US with 386,000 high-tech jobs
2006: The World-Wide Web has 100 million websites
2007: Apple launches the iPhone
2008: Microsoft Windows owns almost 90% of the operating system market for personal computers, while Google owns almost 70% of the Internet search market
2010: Apple introduces the tablet computer iPad that sells one million units in less than one month
2010: The smartphone market grows 55% in 2010, with 269 million units sold worldwide
2011: Apple surpasses Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the world based on market capitalization
2012: Facebook goes public, the biggest high-tech IPO in history
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