Before the Internet was actually the Internet, it was called ARPAnet. ARPA-Who? Yes, it’s a funny sounding name for sure. Especially considering what the Internet is today, literally encompassing every aspect of our lives. ARPAnet is an acronym for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. In the late 1960s, The Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Department of Defense set out on a mission. They were trying to find a way to simplify communication and share data, but not using the old telephone method of ‘circuit switching’ to transfer voice and data communications. That method was only able to send from one to another in a linear fashion – from end to end.
The ARPAnet once set up, as rudimentary as it was in the beginning (late 70’s, early 80’s) used packet switching which enabled the sending and receiving of communication and data to multiple locations. Thus, TCP/IP communication protocols were born. You can probably thank Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf, often referred to as the Father of the Internet, for that. What started out as a defense project quickly expanded to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and academia – which allowed the sharing of information in real time. In 1989 ARPAnet was shut down, replaced by NSFnet.
First Commercial Use of the Internet
The first public and commercial use of the Internet came when in mid-1989 when Compuserve and MCImail added email service for anyone who wanted it. Next, PSInet setup a commercial section to the Internet backbone. Then by the end of 1990 Tim Berners-Lee came up with HyperText Transfer Protocols, and that should sound very familiar to everyone; HTTP. Next came; HTML, UseNet, and FTP (File Transfer Protocol). The Internet was up and running, and only in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that today just over 4 Billion people are now connected online across the globe – soon everyone will be connected and their lives affected in some way.
The Internet Has Changed the Way We Do Business Forever
Before the Internet, businesses were using fax machines, Federal Express package delivery and Zap Mail, Snail Mail (USPS), and very limited data transfer with Alpha Pagers (very brief text messages for which you could answer Y or N for yes or no). At that time people were upset with Junk Fax advertising, little did they know the future of SPAM was going to take a big bite out of that nonsense – albeit, only to make it a 1,000 times worse. Before SPAM blockers, users wore the letters off the “delete” key within a month after buying a new computer.
The Internet sped up the flow of information and the speed of business to the point that in 1999 Bill Gates wrote a book; Business @ The Speed of Thought. Of course, by the mid-1990s nearly every legitimate business, big and small, either had or was building a website. Why not have an online brochure available 24/7 without having to print and mail out information to potential customers? Yes, the printing industry suffered, print shops across the nation were going out of business, almost as fast as the film-developing sector disappeared with the advent of digital cameras.
The Major Evolutionary Shifts of Commercial Internet Use
Yes, the Internet has changed everything in our world, but nowhere is the shift as dramatic as it is in the business world. From 1990 to 2000, within 10-years everything had changed. It was a chaotic time, yet a time for significant opportunity. There is always opportunity in change. The more rapid the change the more chaos, crisis, and yes, opportunity. Below is a quick list of some of the paradigm shifts the Internet has brought to business;
- Commercial E-mail became the preferred method of written communication
- Companies, regardless of size, built websites – competing on a level playing field
- Interactive websites allowed customers and businesses to conduct business online
- Industry Portal Websites sprung up with information in every sector of the economy
- Search Engine competition rapidly evolved to serve the instant information needs of consumers
- Bulletin Boards then Blogs, brought 2-way open transparent information for business communication
- Social Networks and Social Business Networks began to grow
- The whole world went mobile with smartphones – the Internet followed – the rest is history
Today, the world’s information is at your finger-tips wherever you are and whenever you want it. Soon, the SpaceX LEO (Low Earth Orbit) Satellite Network System, Starlink will deliver Internet Service to anywhere on the planet, and anyone with a mobile device will be able to access the Internet. Well, that just changes everything, and here we go again. Are you ready for the next wave of opportunity/chaos, aboard the next satellite rocket launch? It’s already here, and deployed. It will come online in 2020. Once again, the Internet does not disappoint – change is the Internet’s only constant. Your business should be constantly exploiting these new technologies
What’s Comes Next? What’s the Next Big Evolution for Business Computing?
This turns out to be an easy one to predict, as industry and the world’s largest corporations are already preparing. Consider if you will The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) all connected in real time to the cloud, and all that secure data and information ready for anyone anywhere on any mobile device?
Imagine running a factory, supply chain, construction project, hospital, university, financial institution or multiple retail locations and having the exact pertinent information you need instantaneously? Imagine all those systems integrated, systematized, and optimally configured for maximum efficiency – on any job site, location, and the ‘need to know’ information for each team member in real-time.
From a business perspective, the Internet just got a 100-times more useful, but only if you take advantage of these changes and opportunities.