The internet has been around for decades now. Even though we use it every day, there are some amazing facts about the history of the internet that most are unaware of. Here we list fourteen of the most surprising facts about the history of the Internet.
1. Domain name registration used to be free
Today, domain name registration costs around $10-20 a year, depending on various factors. Some valuable domains are even auctioned off for millions of dollars.
But, in the past, domain name registration was completely free. However, in 1995, a $100 fee was imposed on the two-year domain name registration, although it has now been reduced significantly.
2. The first spam email was sent in 1978
Despite rigorous email filters, spam emails still go through today and arrive in our inboxes. But email spam is nothing new. In fact, it dates back to 1978, when Gary Thuerk sent unsolicited emails to ARPANET users to sell them computers.
It is worth mentioning here that the word “spam” was not used at that time. It was later, in 1993, when a USENET user jokingly coined the term “spamming”.
Since then, spam emails have been a constant nuisance, even with stricter controls. And if you are also tired of spam emails, try using disposable email services for registering on websites.
3. Amazon was originally called Cadabra
It is common knowledge that Amazon started out as a bookstore. But few know that the first name of the current horsewoman was Cadabra. This name was inspired by abracadabra, a magical spell.
However, Jeff Bezos changed the name to Amazon when his lawyer thought it sounded too similar to the word “corpse”. Bezos then chose Amazon as the new name because it started with A and represented the largest river.
4. Facebook’s color is blue because…
A lot of thought goes into choosing the right color for your brand. But this was not the case with Facebook. Being red-green colorblind, Mark Zuckerberg chose the color blue for his idea, as it is the most visible color for him.
5. Myspace lost all data uploaded before 2016
Myspace used to be the most popular social site before the current giants gained traction. He had many early memories for Millennials, including some silly ones. But while migrating the servers, Myspace accidentally lost all the pictures, videos and songs archived before 2016.
6. Why email addresses contain the @ symbol
Thanks to its use in email addresses, @ has become a frequently used symbol today. However, that was not the case then. In fact, @ was used in email addresses as it was one of the least used keyboard symbols.
Back in 1971, when Ray Tomlinson was inventing today’s email, he wanted a symbol that could be used to separate the username and host without creating confusion. With all other symbols used in usernames, Ray selected @.
7. The first browser was WorldWideWeb
Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Wide, also developed the first browser under the name of WorldWideWeb, later called Nexus. It worked both as a browser and as an editor.
However, WorldWideWeb was not widely adopted, so most people only remember Mosaic and Netscape as early browsers. And if you’re interested in browsers, here’s Internet Explorer history.
8. Meaning of CAPTCHA
While necessary from a security standpoint, CAPTCHA is perhaps the most annoying thing on the web. While we all know what CAPTCHA is, not many people know what it means.
CAPTCHA is actually an acronym and stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computer and Humans Apart”. Pretty self-descriptive, huh?
9. Google comes from Googol
In case you don’t know, Googol is a number with 100 zeros. The founders of Google chose this number as it would represent their mission to organize the infinite information available on the web.
However, while registering a domain name, Sean Anderson misspelled it as Google, which is how the search engine got its name.
10. Wi-Fi is not an acronym
As we explained earlier, Wi-Fi represents nothing. Most people confuse Wi-Fi as a short form of Wireless Fidelity, but that’s not true. The previous name of this technology was IEEE 802.11b, then it was simplified to Wi-Fi. This rhymed with hi-fi and was much easier to remember.
However, later on, the Wi-Fi Alliance used the slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity”, leading many to believe that it was the full form of Wi-Fi.
11. The first thing sold on the Internet
The market size of the e-commerce industry is now $5 trillion. But how did it all start and what was the first thing sold online? Jaime Bartlett in his book The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld notes that the first thing sold online was marijuana.
While the deal was negotiated online, the actual sale took place in person. The very first online transaction occurred in 1994 when Dan Kohn sold a CD of a music album, with payment made online.
12. Goats mow down Google and Yahoo headquarters
Tech companies have been working to reduce their carbon emissions for years. But Google and Yahoo have gone one step further by hiring goats to mow the lawn.
In 2009, Google contracted with California Grazing to supply 200 goats to mow the Mountain View headquarters. Yahoo did the same in 2007. While these incidents appeared more than a decade ago, we’re not sure if the same is the case today.
13. Queen Elizabeth II became the first royal to send emails
During her visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in 1976, Queen Elizabeth II sent an email using the ARPANET. Peter Kirsten helped her send an email, making her the first royal to do so.
Although Queen Elizabeth II was an early adopter of email, she joined Twitter and Instagram somewhat late in 2014 and 2019, respectively.
14. Berners-Lee regrets adding a double slash to URLs
Despite all the praise Berners-Lee has received for his work, he has one regret: adding a double slash (after “http:”) in URLs.
He believes he could have omitted these bars if he wanted. But it was only later that he realized that these cuts were causing a waste of time and paper.
Internet history is not that boring
Whether you’re a nerd or want to impress your friends with some lesser-known facts, you’re in for a good time. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are loads of similar facts about computers, the web, and even tech giants like Google. And if you’re an Internet geek, you’ll definitely find them interesting.
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