A Trip Down Memory Lane: Life Before the Internet

High Technology, Opinions Posted Mar 15, 2019 by Jennifer Torode

This week marks the Web’s 30th anniversary. The World Wide Web has thankfully been abbreviated to the “Web” as saying it in full is a mouthful and it just sounds antiquated. If you’re in your late 20’s or older, the way that you communicated with friends, family and teachers growing up was a lot different from today. And the same goes for those who have been in the workforce for the last twenty years or more.

In 1991, the Internet was essentially available to the general public, but many students of various ages at that time used computer labs that “may” have had connection to the outside world—the Web. By the way, this walk down history lane is making me feel old as I graduated high school in 1991. Gah! In the early 1990’s, the general consumer market just started to also use mobile phones and for me and many others, it was for emergency use only. If you had a Blackberry in the late 1990’s, you were on the “cutting edge” from a business perspective.

To put things into a timeline perspective, Google launched in 2002, and one of the search engine pioneers was Yahoo, which launched in 1995.

Think about what you do on a daily basis. I bet most of your routine revolves around being connected to the Internet. Each morning when I get ready for work, I check the weather forecast to determine my attire for that day via my iPhone’s Weather app. On the train ride to the office, I surf the news on my iPhone and order my coffee via the Starbucks app. When I am at work, I’m very reliant on the Internet to do my job. If I have an appointment or visiting someplace new, I use the Waze app. A few times a week, I may do a few banking transfers and order things from Amazon Prime. And I don’t use a radio at home, I use my wireless Bluetooth speaker that’s connected to Spotify on my iPhone.

Think about your work day or your day in general. If your Internet connection is down at home or while at work, I bet most of what you are doing comes to a halt. The same holds true if, for some reason, a website you use often or heavily is down. Earlier this week, Facebook and Instagram were down thanks to an outage and it was all over the news as many users of these social media platforms hover around these apps like bees on a flower in spring and summer. This outage tossed a monkey wrench into many users’ lives. It just didn’t impact consumers, it also impeded businesses who leverage the platform to advertise, interact with prospects, customers, etc.

With such efficiencies and convenience, comes some negatives of course. With so much being done via the Internet and more things being connected to the Internet, security has been a massive challenge as criminals are constantly honing their skills to outsmart consumers and security vendors alike. The word “over-exposure” also comes to mind as well as addiction. There is no downtime anymore and for many, especially younger generations, it’s like being in Times Square in New York City 24/7—constant communication streams, flashing and embellished visuals galore and a window for maximum distraction. Being ever-connected expedites processes and we’ve become a world that expects and demands instant gratification. In my humble opinion, with anything in life, balance is the key.

For fun, let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Below is a chart with a few comparisons of life before the Internet vs. today’s Internet-connected world.

Happy Anniversary World Wide Web, Web, Internet!