A love letter to the World Wide Web

1989 was a year marked by revolutionary sociopolitical and scientific changes such as:

  • The fall of the Berlin Wall
  • The Exxon Valdez disaster
  • Rafael Callejas was elected Honduran President
  • The first liver transplant was practiced

The entertainment business was being dominated by Batman and Beetlejuice, Madonna’s Like a Prayer and Bon Jovi’s I’ll be There for You topped the music charts.

I had just turned 12 and was about to enter middle school when one of the greatest and fastest-growing inventions of the 20th century happened: the World Wide Web.

Let me give you some context: I’m part of the generation who had to learn their computer skills from Basic and DOS. A generation that had everything saved on floppy disks and diskettes (you know, the fluorescent ones!). When the WWW began, we had no idea what it would become, and boom, just like that we were in the ’90s and there were 2.6 million internet users.

It was not until 1993, my sophomore year of high school, that the WWW went public; that’s when it all started. By 1994, there were 44.4 million users. Yahoo! began operations and Amazon came to be in Jeff Bezo’s garage in Seattle (under Cadabra, Inc.).

Internet Explorer and Netscape made their debuts and the dotcom boom began creating the First Browser War (ironically, Explorer won this one!). Well, Windows 95, might have had something to do with this. Millions of dollars were spent on ad campaigns by Microsoft and retail stores. This release sealed the deal in America becoming digitized.

In 1996, one of the first internet memes was created — the dancing baby or baby cha-cha. It went viral of course, spread via email. The baby first appeared in an episode of one of the most popular shows at the time, Ally McBeal.

It was until September 1998, that WiFi was introduced to consumers. Yes, we did all our internet surfing via dial-up. I will never forget my mom yelling at my brothers and me to “hang-up” the computer so she could use the landline.

Fun fact: most Millenials do not know what “hang up the phone” really means or where it came from, because they have never had to actually “hang up” a phone to end a call!

By the end of the decade, and the rise of the Millenium, there were 412.8 million users worldwide. This was in part due to Napster’s peer-to-peer file-sharing site and the appearance of Google Search.

Having survived the Y2K scare, the first half of the 2000s saw the rise of social networking with MySpace and TheFacebook. By 2006, Twitter was publicly launched and today more than 500-million tweets are sent each day.

Soon after, Steve Jobs came into our lives. The first smartphones came into existence and brought about another wave of the tech revolution. A year later, Google’s Android OS was released, becoming iOS’ primary competitor. Next thing we knew, it was 2010 and the internet had over 1.992 billion users.

For the first part of this decade, Facebook has dominated the internet and has acquired other social media platforms. In October 2012, it celebrated its two billion-follower milestone.

We’re now in 2019, 30 years later, where “Likes” and “Follows” control our social media personas. As I look back, I remember sitting on the couch on Saturday mornings, watching reruns of the Jetsons and marveling at them speaking to a screen, having cleaning robots; I also remember going to the movies and watching Back to the Future II’s depiction of 2015:

  • Unmanned flying drones for newsgathering — Check
  • Flat-panel television sets on walls with multiple channel viewing — Check
  • Video chat systems — Check
  • Wearable technology — Check
  • Tablet computers with fingerprint scanners — Check.

With over 3,408 billion users today, what does the future of the internet hold for us? Teletransportation, maybe?

Well, beam me up, Scotty.

Luis Hernandez Blanco