How the Web Became a Thing | The History of the Internet, Part 2

How the Web Became a Thing | The History of the Internet, Part 2

[Music] if you have a smartphone you probably have access to the Internet almost everywhere you go being it’ll access what is basically the sum total of human knowledge whenever you want that’s a new thing pretty cool after the United Nations actually declared uncensored Internet access a human right that deserves protection but it actually took a long time for the internet to become publicly accessible at all even in the country where it started the internet grew from four computers in the western US in 1969 to a global network of networks connecting more than twenty thousand computers by the end of 1987 but it was still restricted to specific universities and corporations which use it for specific types of collaboration and research so how do we get from 20,000 computers on guarded networks in 1987 to the fundamental human right to Internet access just thirty years later in other words when did the regular Joe’s start logging on some of the first tastes of the future came in the 1970s when a few companies started selling access to the network they were standalone networks that weren’t connected to the main central network that was the internet but their users could do everything from sending emails to checking updated weather reports to playing games and chatting on some of the first ever instant messaging programs and on some that works like Compu serves micro net users could even read stories from major newspapers write on their home computers like imagine a newspaper on your computer but as great as these networks were they still had their limits some of them like micronet were only available nights and weekends when businesses that normally use computers networks were closed and they were all pretty much isolated Islands since they weren’t directly connected to each other or to the broader Internet because throughout the 80s no matter how big these private networks got they weren’t allowed on the Internet ARPANET and the other networks that formed the basis of the internet were government-run and government-funded so the businesses and universities using them weren’t allowed to have any commercial traffic on the network it was fine to use the internet to download some data or email your colleagues a copy of your latest paper but you supposed to advertise a new product on there and you definitely weren’t supposed to charge the general public to come online the internet was supposed to be for research not for making money which is pretty weird to think about considering how many of us use the Internet these days to make a living around the same time ARPANET administrators were looking to hand off responsibility for maintaining the Internet ARPANET had long since accomplished its goals and the Department of Defense wanted to move on the National Science Foundation’s huge Network NSF net seemed to be the best candidate it started in 1986 and grew so quickly after connecting to ARPANET that less than a year later it already needed major upgrades to handle all the new traffic and 1990 NSFNET officially replaced ARPANET as the backbone of the Internet and it’s more than a half a million users but even before ARPANET was completely out of the picture a couple enterprising companies were connecting regular people to the Internet though there’s some debate about which company was there first and when NSFNET also had a policy about banning commercial traffic on the network but in 1988 they decided to try connecting a couple of those private networks email servers to an assessment and a year later users of CompuServe and an email service called MCI mail could send the first commercial emails across the internet the next year 1989 we got the first Internet service providers or ISPs these were companies that usually didn’t have any network of their own they just connected people to a local network and to the Internet you’ll hear a lot of people say that the first commercial ISP was a company called the world which opened near Boston in December 1989 but others say the first one was done in Australia instead and then there are people who tell you that there weren’t any true Internet service providers until Congress passed a law in 1992 allowing for commercial traffic on NSFNET the truth is of course that lots of different companies opened their doors or like their wires between 1989 and 1992 what all of them offered slightly different services some were just email somewhere their own networks that were partly connected to the internet and some offered internet access without an online community of their own so in the situation different companies can all kind of claim that they were the first more ISPs were created in the next few years and in 1995 NSF net shut down for good and handed everything over to the ISPs but even in the early 1990s the Internet was nothing like it is today for one thing of course it was slow go so slow at downloading a picture of Captain Picard took like half the day not that I know that from experience to connect to the network your computer placed a phone call to the network through a modem which translated between the digital signals being used in computers and the analog signals used in landline phones then your computer would talk to the other computers on the network using the phone lines between them this way of getting online became known as dial-up and if you’ve ever used a dial-up internet connection you know exactly how frustratingly slow it could be though to be clear when we were first doing it it did not seem slow it seemed like magic convinced phone lines already Criss crossed the United States when ARPANET was invented it just made sense to use them instead of trying to invent something completely new part of why dial-up was so slow is that there’s a limit to how quickly you can cram information down a phone line to transmit a lot of information you need a signal with a really high frequency meaning it can change very quickly and for a signal sent down phone lines that would mean you would need a really high-pitched sound but phone lines weren’t designed for that sort of signal they were designed for phone calls and even though new parents might disagree humans just don’t make sounds that are that high pitch the phone lines weren’t designed to transmit signals with very high frequencies that you would need to transmit a lot of information all at once the first thing a modem did when it connected to a network was to check the highest frequency signal that the wires could handle and then it slowed the firehose of ones and zeros coming out of your computer down to that speed there’s another reason why the internet was different back when the first ISPs were popping up back in 1989 there wasn’t a single website because back in 1989 there was no such thing as the Web today a lot of people use the terms Internet and web pretty much interchangeably but they’re actually different things the internet came more than a decade before the web internet is a shortened form of the word internet working and it was coined in the 70s to refer to the physical cables and computers connecting all together today it usually refers more specifically to all the computers running programs that let them communicate with each other across the giant internet network the internet began with networks that were designed as a way of remotely sharing programs files and access to computers then programs like email were added over time these programs tended to organize the information a bit like a tree or even like a whole forest to get to a specific branch of a program or file you had to climb all the way up the trunk and then down a whole bunch of branches and then to get somewhere else you had to go all the way back to the trunk and over to another set of branches from unit it was small it never took too long to get back to where you started from so you could go somewhere else but as the internet grew it got harder and harder to navigate unless you knew exactly where you were going even smaller individual networks like the one at CERN in Europe were getting in a hand with a pane to find everything you needed on the network especially if you didn’t know exactly where to find the thing you were looking for so you’ve wasted a bunch of time navigating all those different trees so in 1989 a scientist named Tim berners-lee with some help from his colleague Robert Caillou started working on a better way to arrange all that information berners-lee is often credited with inventing the web and for good reason yeah the big idea to sort of flatten the trees structure instead of each file being like its own little isolated branch any document or file could direct people to other related files so they could easily go from one to the next and he knew exactly the perfect tool for the task hypertext hypertext was invented back in the 60s as a way of going directly from one part of a document to another like skipping straight from the table of contents to chapter 10 without scrolling all the way there when people started using it to link between different documents and it was incorporated into all kinds of programs throughout the 80s berners-lee made the hypertext concept the primary way of navigating what he started calling the world wide web with hyperlinks connecting different web pages the web was a hit at CERN and when it was made public in 1993 the final major piece of today’s internet was in place syn berners-lee is the reason most web sites you go to have addresses that start with HTTP colon slash slash WWH TTP stands for hypertext Transfer Protocol the set of programs used to read documents with hyperlinks sometimes you’ll see HTTP which is just a more secure version of those programs the colon slash slash is a way of introducing what comes next and the WW says that the page is part of the world wide web soon a whole bunch of different programs up for accessing these new hyperlinked web pages each interpreting and presenting them slightly differently depending on what their users wanted these were the early web browsers the ancestors of whatever you’re using today to watch this video like Netscape Navigator remember Netscape it was first released in 1994 and the code for it was eventually incorporated into Firefox with the web and the internet finally paired up and publicly accessible the number of computers using the internet exploded in the 90s and billions of dollars were poured into startup companies on the internet throughout the decade wealthy investors piled cash on companies like etoys comm and gov works and WorldCom both of these startups went bankrupt around the turn of the millennium when bubble burst and giant corporations like Google and Facebook rose from the ashes so we’ll have to wait until the next episode of this series to talk about why and how the internet went from a graveyard of failed startups to the place it is today which is you know more than just a graveyard of failed startups thanks for watching this episode of scishow which was brought to you by our patrons on patreon if you want to help support this show you can go to and don’t forget to go to and subscribe [Music] you [Music]

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “How the Web Became a Thing | The History of the Internet, Part 2

  1. Basically SciShow covered everything I learned in a college web history course.
    Why do people expect us to pay to go to college, again?

  2. I was born in '93. I'm among the first people to have lived their entire life in a world with internet. I literally don't know what it's like to not have it.

  3. I remember listening to an interview with Tim, I think it was the anniversary of the web or something… he said the second slash in http:// is pointless, and he only put it there because it looked like it needed to be there

  4. First got online at my rural school in BFE Tennessee in late 1994. Mosaic was introduced to us as outdated with the better web browser being Netscape. Learned to program in FORTRAN 77 for the government subsided class Adventures in Supercomputing. The local phone company was given a huge grant to provide internet service to the school and later the area which it did two years later.

    I got so much out of that class including my love affair with computers in general, the internet, MUDDS, and chat programs.Telneting into university chat rooms was awesome.

  5. My family and i had dial-up just until earlier this year….. im almost 20. No fast internet would work where we lived

  6. internet a human right? And yet child abuses get crap sentences and ruin a childs childhood? dear god where is world coming to smh

  7. I kid you not: My parents still use dial-up. I don't know how, or who still provides it in southern Ontario, but someone does.

  8. Hank this is completely unrelated to the topic but can you make video about vertical farming vs traditional farming because only develop countries are utilIizing this strategy. and the science behind it is great that is probably going decrease our carbon footprint in the planet.

  9. 1994, college professors going on about how this new internet would replace library cards, and that someday you could use a laptop to listen to music, watch TV and movies, or chat with someone in another country. 1995, my first Netscape ready Compaq laptop with one of those modem lines.

    This is while Mac users had better stuff like that new up and coming Prodigy, Ha. Still using a version of Netscape called Firefox. Lol. also bacxk in 1995 this much text would have taken at least 14 mins to process.

  10. www is just the name (or alias) for a server on a domain. For example, is a domain that includes many computers and many servers (hosts). tells the router that manages the domain that you want the host named www. It's synonymous with the World Wide Web since it would be the server that would host the hyperlinked mark up files.

    Now it is meaningless since most major sites have multiple servers not named www sharing the load and as long as everything is configured correctly a URL with or without a www is the same.

  11. "And even though new parents might disagree, humans just don't make sounds that are that high-pitched." Hahahahaha!!!!

  12. Wow, the web was first made public in 1993, that seems like eons ago! I built my first web page in 1995 and by 1998 had a website that was in the top 100 most popular (#98, but still it was something). Now twenty years later all the kids have their YouTube and Facebook and their smart phones and smart watches – the pace of change has just been astounding!

  13. Didn't know the internet has been around for that long, this is mind opening! I thought it started around early 2000s considering it was fully available for me back in 2012. Whoa.

  14. My first modem was a telephone that sat in a cradle. I wrote my own dial-up programs… as we all did. Good old ATDT…

  15. I had a 2400 baud modern. Then a 14.4k, 28.8k, 33.6k, and 56k. And while sure, it felt a little like magic, it was still frustratingly, absolutely mind-fuckingly slow. I wholeheartedly disagree with your statement on that one Hank. Thankfully, we had behemoth CRT monitors that could withstand being repeatedly punched.

  16. My first taste of online was in college at the end of the 80's via a closed network to other colleges in the state and later the early web. I ran my own BBS (Bulletin Board System) that provided forums for discussion, games, private local email and then network mail covering multiple states and dozens of small BBS. Single user, dialup. Paid for multiple phone lines and all that. Started out at 2400 baud, then 9600, 14.4, 28.8, and finally 56.6. To get on the internet after losing my access at the local college (my data and time usage was frowned upon) I skipped AOL, CompuServ, and all those other services instead choosing a local ISP for direct access. Used internet connection sharing in Windows to allow my computer and my partner's to use that single 56k dialup connection so that we could play Asheron's Call together. All of it was terribly slow and a pain in the ass to get working. It's so easy now! 🙂

  17. imagine doing business by without internet and email and servers to conect to… one time i at my workplace we had to send a fax with some ppw for a transaction because the other company's internet wasn't​ working… there was one person who knew how to send a fax… and it took 3 tries and 3 different phone numbers to get it through… we almost missed the courier and would have failed to ship out the order…

  18. I actually remember most of this stuff happening, and more besides (Gopher sites anyone?)

    I feel so old now.

  19. Cool video! Small thing worth mentioning: at 8:35. HTTP is not used to read documents, but instead to fetch data from internet domains/addresses. In turn, HTML is the "language" read/interpreted by browsers in order to display documents with hyperlinks on them.

  20. 5:40 "Humans don't make sounds that were that high pitched" … You clearly never heard me while playing a game with horror elements … I regularly confuse bats.

  21. Sometimes i question the sources or if there is any at all, then i look in the description and say "Holy Shit!!!!"

  22. thx for this awesomely ha bisky vid and the erly internet saved my cousins life if my uncle didnt have access to it she would have died

  23. Thank you, very much. I could help translate if I had it in writing! Some of the terms would be difficult…but, you might already have them translated.

  24. 1989 is also known among us old fogeys as "the September that never ended." That's because before then, new students getting online each September were a bit of a noticeable annoyance. When internet access became available to the public the flood of noticeable annoyances no longer stopped. 🙂

  25. HYTELNET and Gopher were great, In the day. Finger the right account and you could get your local weather report or who knows. "around the world and back in 800 ms" LoL…

  26. Did you mention Gopher. It slightly predated the web and introduced some of the stuff that ended up in the web browsers.

  27. So, let me get this straight. The first time Internet service providers became a thing and offered internet to the public, literally the first thing they did was have a debate about who was first? It is JUST like youtube. How meta.

  28. Oh, god, that modem sound.
    (not necessarily good ones. Dial-up sometimes crashes if the phone rings unless you have a splitter. We found that out…the hard way. :P)

  29. “WHEN WE WERE FIRST DOING IT, IT DID NOT SEEM SLOW, IT SEEMED LIKE MAGIC!” Lol that’s so funny and true. I used the time to go get snacks ??

  30. 9:09 technically the first web browser was mosaic witch was VARY bear bone then was defeated by IE (yes true story) and was bought by AOL but before they where that made the code Open source. So Mozilla took that modified it and made it Fire fox then came Google Chrome… IE only had like 5 years of fame…

  31. You forgot to mention MOSAIC.
    I remember when my sons got annoyed with me because I had a 300baud modem whereas they were both stuck with 110baud acoustic couplers.

  32. I remember Netscape. You could never tell whether it was working or not. Then IE came and if it didn't find the website, it would add www. to the front and .com to the end. I set off to read my e-mails once. When I came back IE was searching for The internet was down that day.

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