Short note on the virulent growth of WWW + Internet, 1988-1997

Some data from the book.

On 25 July 1994, the front cover of Time Magazine announced ‘the strange new world of the Internet’. The Internet was of course only new to those who had not known of it previously. What was new was the WWW, which put a user friendly face on the network. Also new was an explosion in the number of connected networks thanks to the initiatives of the National Science Foundation’s network. Over the six years of the NSF MERIT backbone the number of connected networks grew from 240 in 1988 to 32,400 in 1994. Between 150 and 300 networks joined the Internet each week. In 1992 traffic on the network grew at 11% each month, and 6,000 networks were connected, two thirds of them in the US. By October 1994 3.8 million computers were connected to the Internet. By July 1995, 6.6 million were online. Even as network use grew, the WWW increasingly became the focus of interest. In April 1995 the traffic generated by WWW surpassed even the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which was used to transfer large files. The WWW, now the dominant service on the Internet, had only become assessable on all the major computing platforms two years before with the release of the PC browser Cello in early 1993. This growth was phenomenal. One indicator of the contagious interest in the WWW are the data on the number of people visiting Berners-Lee’s CERN server, info.cern.ch, where the WWW software and information about WWW servers around the world were available: 100 hits in the summer of 1991, 1,000 in the summer of 1992, 10,000 in the summer of 1993. The rate doubled every three to four months, and increased tenfold year on year. As Berners-Lee recalls, ‘in 1992 academia, and in 1993 industry, was taking notice’. Interest in the Web accelerated the growth of Internet connections. From 6.6 million connected computers connected to the Internet in July 1996, the number doubled to 12.8 million in just one year. By July 1997, 19.6 million computers were connected to the Internet.

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