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Most important milestones in Internet's journey

Last updated on: February 7, 2013 10:26 IST

Most important milestones in Internet's journey

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The origins of the Internet reach back to research of the 1960s, commissioned by the United States government to build robust, fault-tolerant, and distributed computer networks. The funding of a new US backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks.

The commercialisation of what was by the 1990s an international network resulted in its popularisation and incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life.

As of June 2012, more than 2.4 billion people - over a third of the world's human population - have used the services of the Internet.

Let's take a look at some of the path-breaking milestones in the Internet's journey.

Source: The Economist

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Image: Women use smartphones in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.
Photographs: Tony Gentile/Reuters

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AOL launches instant messaging services

Year: 1997

Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, AOL has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York.

As of October 2012, it serves 2.9 million paid and free domestic (US) subscribers.

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Image: A woman walks out of AOL offices in New York, United States.
Photographs: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

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Google founded

Year: 1998

Google is an American multinational corporation that provides Internet-related products and services, including Internet search, cloud computing, software and advertising technologies. Advertising revenues from AdWords generate almost all of the company's profits.

The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while both attended Stanford University. Together, Brin and Page own about 16 per cent of the company's stake.

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Image: A man walks by the reception desk at the Google office in Toronto, Canada.
Photographs: Mark Blinch/Reuters

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Cable operators lay new lines

Year: 2000

A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. The first submarine communications cables, laid in the 1850s, carried telegraphy traffic. Subsequent generations of cables carried telephone traffic, then data communications traffic.

Modern cables use optical fibre technology to carry digital data, which includes telephone, Internet and private data traffic.

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Image: The East African Marine Cable fibre optic cable laying ship Niwa is seen anchored in the sea in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates.
Photographs: Gina Din Corporate Communications/Japheth Kagondu/Handout/Reuters
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Launch of Wikipedia

Year: 2000

Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 24 million articles, over 4.1 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world.

Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 active contributors. As of February 2013, there are editions of Wikipedia in 285 languages.

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Image: Wikipedia has about 100,000 active contributors.
Photographs: Gary Cameron/Reuters

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Online file-sharing starts

Year: 2001

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents, or electronic books. It may be implemented through a variety of ways.

Common methods of storage, transmission and dispersion include manual sharing utilising removable media, centralised servers on computer networks, World Wide Web-based hyperlinked documents, and the use of distributed peer-to-peer networking.

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Image: Pirate Bay co-founders Fredrik Neij, left, Gottfrid Svartholm, centre, and Peter Sunde, right, in Stockholm, Sweden.
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters
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Launch of Skype

Year: 2003

Skype was first released in 2003 written by Estonian developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu, and Jaan Tallinn, who had also originally developed Kazaa.

It developed into a platform with over 600 million users and was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

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Image: Skype was bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion.
Photographs: David Loh/Reuters

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YouTube founded

Year: 2004

YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos. The company is based in San Bruno, California, and uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 technology to display a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos.

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Image: Visitors at YouTube stand in Cannes, France.
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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Netflix starts streaming videos

Year: 2006

Netflix is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media in North and South America, the Caribbean, United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and flat rate DVD-by-mail in the United States, where mailed DVDs are sent via Permit Reply Mail.

The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. It started its subscription-based digital distribution service in 1999 and by 2009 it was offering a collection of 100,000 titles on DVD and had surpassed 10 million subscribers.

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Image: Headquarters of Netflix in Los Gatos, California United States.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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Cable operators upgrade infrastructure

Year: 2007

Optical fibre can be used as a medium for telecommunication and computer networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications, because light propagates through the fibre with little attenuation compared to electrical cables. This allows long distances to be spanned with few repeaters.

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Image: Workers examine an undersea cable in Yichang, central China's Hubei province.
Photographs: China Daily/Reuters
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Facebook reaches 250 million users

Year: 2009

Facebook is a social networking service launched in February 2004, owned and operated by Facebook. As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users, more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device.

Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile.

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Image: An illustration picture shows a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer in Munich, Germany.
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters
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Launch of iPad

Year: 2010

The iPad is a line of tablet computers designed and marketed by Apple, which runs on Apple's iOS operating system.

The first iPad was released on April 3, 2010; the most recent iPad models, the fourth-generation iPad and iPad Mini, were released on November 2, 2012.

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Image: A woman looks at her iPad tablet after the Emporio Armani Spring/Summer 2013 collection at Milan Fashion Week in Italy.
Photographs: Stefano Rellandini/Reuters
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App downloads hits 40 billion

Year: 2012

Application software, also known as an application or an app, is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks.

Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players.


Image: Jenna Sampson, a community relations manager at Twitter, works on the company's rooftop deck in San Francisco, California, United States.
Photographs: Noah Berger/Reuters
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