Web Hosting: How It All Started
The Internet: a powerful place, where businesses put themselves out there on a worldwide level, and users have access to any information imaginable. Web hosting companies of all sorts exist to help people and businesses set up their websites, whether a storefront or informational site.
But did you know that prior to 1991, web hosting was very different than it is today? Did you realize there was, at one point, no such thing as cheap hosting companies? Let's take a look at the history of web hosting, starting with a look at the development of the Internet itself, to see how far the industry has come.
Web Hosting: How It All Started, The History Of The Internet
Back in 1962, J.C.R. Licklider of MIT published articles describing this seemingly outlandish concept: a network of computers worldwide, all interconnected and able to share information and resources, what he called the “Galactic Network.” He was chosen to head the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the Computer Science program at MIT, convincing those who would eventually take the reins to focus on his concept of networking.
This early research led to Lawrence G. Roberts and Thomas Merril successfully connecting a TX-2 computer in Massachusetts with a Q-32 computer in California in 1965, creating the very first computer network. It was quite slow, with data traveling over the dial-up line provided by AT&T at 2.4 kbps, but amazing nonetheless.
Web Hosting: How It All Started, Speed It Up!
Licklider's work focused on packet switching, where data traveled the phone lines as small packages rather than the solid circuit lines that were typical of this time period. Both Roberts and Merril felt the circuit switching they had relied on was inferior, deciding to go with Licklider's idea. Soon after beginning the work, they found that three other areas of the US were working on the same idea, all unaware of each other!
In 1966, plans for what he called ARPANET were revealed by Roberts, the very first wide-area network in history. The plan was a success in 1969, when computers at UCLA, The Stanford Research Institute, The University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah were successfully linked together. Each individual computer was considered a host, allowing them to share data with one another. Two year later, they added 19 more hosts and 13 nodes to the network.
Web Hosting: How It All Started, The Internet Is Born
The 1980s brought us rapid advancements in the computer science field. The TCP/IP format was developed, linking the ARPANET network to various other networks, giving them the ability to operate as individual systems while still accessing the data network-wide, the infancy of what we know as the Internet today.
With all of these computers being linked together, it became necessary to differentiate between them. Thus, the Domain Name System (DNS) was created. The first six domains: .edu, .gov, .mil, .com, .net, and .org. The first registered domain name in our history: symbolics.com.
Web Hosting: How It All Started, Expanding The Internet
1991 saw the National Science Foundation opening the Internet up to the world. CERN made it happen, relying on HyperText Markup Language (HTML) created by Tim Berner-Lee, and specifications regarding Uniform Resource Locators (URLs). The Internet was introduced to a wider audience. Gone were the days of the Internet being a place for computer geeks and universities exclusively.
With this growth came the entrepreneurs who saw an opportunity, getting in on the ground floor of web hosting. The bigger the Internet got, the more businesses with no technical experience wanted in on the action. E-commerce was on the rise, and companies capitalized on that by starting web hosting provider companies.
Web Hosting: How It All Started, Web Hosting Today
Back then, web hosting was expensive. As it was so very new, there wasn't high demand. These web hosting pioneers saw what they could gain, purchasing servers to rent out space to those businesses wishing to own a website but didn't have the capital or time to invest to do it themselves.
Over time, as demand increased, costs came down. Today, if you are a business without a website, some people will turn elsewhere. We want information immediately, and we want an easy way to purchase products or offer feedback to a company. The Internet gives us that, but it's all made possible by a web hosting provider.
Where will the industry go from here? There are constant developments, like cloud hosting, a somewhat new arena. You can rest assured that the demand will never die down, it will only increase, and someone out there is working on the next big solution.
Are you lucky enough to remember the early days of the Internet? Web Hosting: How It All Started, Share your stories and thoughts on how far it has come with us!