If the 1950s were the atomic age and the beginning of the jet age, the 1960s the space age, then there’s little doubt that today we’re living in the internet age. The last few decades have seen a major shift towards the use of computers and electronic technology in all walks of life.
Thanks to the internet our society has become much more knowledge based and since its now much easier to share information around the world we’ve also become much more globalised. These changes have taken place in a relatively short space of time so just how have they come about.
First the computer…
The roots of the internet age really begin with what we might call the information age. This starts with the first commercial electronic computers that appeared in the years following World War II. But computer were large, complex and expensive which meant their use was restricted to governments and big businesses.
Not until the first affordable personal computers started to appear in the late 1970s and early 1980s did we see the first glimmer of a world where a computer would be part of practically every home and business.
Once you have lots of computers the obvious thing to do is to link them all together. That’s not quite how the internet started though, it was conceived to provide a resilient network for defence purposes, one that could still operate even if part of it was destroyed.
This idea of a decentralised network really took off with the introduction of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s. It meant that with no central server computers anywhere in the world could exchange information. A web designer could create a site be seen by anyone in the world with access to the internet.
Of course the rapid growth of the internet and the increased numbers of computers in use has led to a massive growth in the amount of data being created and stored. This is a major challenge for the technology industry.
Widespread use of the internet has led to greater use of the cloud for storage as individuals and businesses choose to store their information online where someone else can look after backups and security. But of course the information is still stored in a data centre somewhere, one person’s cloud is another’s room full of servers.
If you have a company doing web design in Hemel Hempstead the resulting site is then uploaded to a hosting service and will be available for anyone to access. Cloud hosting allows easy management of the site via a console so changes can be made from anywhere.
Of course the internet age is still evolving. We’re now seeing a shift towards access from mobile devices rather than desktop PCs. We’re also seeing more and more smart devices exchanging information via the internet of things. All of which means that the internet is having an impact on more and more aspects of our lives and we’re more dependent on it than ever.