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The Internet: Then and Now [INFOGRAPHIC]

When the first instance of the internet was created in 1969, it was a very different beast than what it is today. Originally the internet was a research network funded by the U.S. military, connecting four computers at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. This network was dubbed Apranet until 1984, when it linked 1,000 hosts at research labs in 1984. It was then that the network took on the name we know today: “the internet.” Over the years Internet access slowly expanded, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the internet topped 1 billion users. Today over 2.7 billion people use the internet, an amount equivalent to 47% of the world’s population. In fact, 750 million households, or 41% globally, are connected to the internet.

Internet Adoption

The number of users isn’t the only aspect of the internet that’s increasing at the speed of light. Though 1993 saw only 130 websites on the internet, today the Web hosts over 634 million sites, 226 million of those active domain names. Google search has also seen an upsurge in traffic; in 1998, Google’s first official year, the search engine received 3.6 million queries. Today the search giant is almost incongruous with its past, receiving 1.2 trillion search requests in 2012 alone. (That averaged to 3 billion searches per day!)

The internet has flourished as a reliable means of instant communication. Just look at email: since the first message was sent in 1971, email use has skyrocketed to 297 billion emails sent in 2012. Social networking has gained in popularity, too. In 2002, one of the earliest social networks, Friendster, reached 3 million users in just three months. By 2009, 74 million people were using Myspace and Facebook boasted 200 million users.

Videos are also gaining steam. In 2009 YouTube served 1 billion video views each day; today, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and more than 4 billion hours of video are watched on the site each month. E-commerce has been adopted quickly as well, growing from $72 billion in sales in 2002 to $225.5 billion in 2012. Perhaps smartphones have had something to do with these rapid increases in internet use? In 2009 31% of U.S. adults used their cell phones to go online. By 2012, 55% were browsing the Web from their phones. In fact, in 2012 the average smartphone consumed 500 MB of data every month. How high will that number reach this year?

   
 
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