The internet: landmarks and the future


With internet access available to 44 per cent (3.2 billion people) of the global population by the end of 2015, according to a UN report – an eight-fold increase in 15 years – it’s more than likely that half the world will be wired up to the web by the close of 2016. It’s a major milestone – but by no means the first since British computer scientist [Sir] Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet in 1989. So what have been landmark dates? And what does the future hold?

August 1991 

The first ever website goes live. Created by Berners-Lee, it explains the World Wide Web project and how users can set up servers and create sites and pages. You can still view the site at

January 1994

Yahoo! launches (Google wouldn’t arrive until 1998); the first ever e-commerce transaction takes place; the first ever banner ad is sold by HotWired (the first commercial web magazine) to telecoms company AT&T.

March 2002 

Social media is born, in the form of Friendster. LinkedIn was founded the same year, while Facebook (originally called The Facebook) would not be seen until 2004. Reddit followed in 2005, Twitter in 2006 and Instagram in 2010.

Late 2016 

Facebook to launch a satellite that will deliver internet access to remote areas of Africa, as part of its initiative which is already under way in countries such as India, Indonesia, Colombia and Kenya.


20.8 billion items will be hooked up to the web, according to research firm Gartner. The McKinsey Global Institute recently forecast that the Internet of Things could have a global impact of $11trn (£7.2trn) annually by 2025.

Read more about the internet

Microsoft’s Susan Hauser on the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things expert report

The Internet of Things – the third industrial revolution

About author

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Alongside his work for Director, Christian has written features for the Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Q, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, ShortList and Glamour in an eclectic career which has seen him interview everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas through to Richard Branson with newspaper assignments including reporting on the Japanese tsunami and living with an Italian cult.

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