Inflation and Web Hosting
Inflation is a fact of life. An annoying and bothersome fact, but a fact all the same. It's why food prices rise regularly, and why a newspaper no longer costs a quarter. But, did you know that the web hosting industry didn't start out cheap? In fact, web hosting might be one of the few industries that deflated.
Let's take a closer look at the falling costs of web hosting.
Inflation and Web Hosting: The Early Days
We've discussed the history of web hosting before, so if you need a refresher or missed the article, check it out here. When it all started in 1991, a person looking to create a website required their own private server and a whole lot of technical knowhow. This added up to a huge expense.
The first web server was a NeXT computer, often called “The Cube” due to its boxy design. If you wanted one of these for yourself back in 1990, you'd have to shell out $6,500! It offered 256 MiB (I know, some of you probably don't even know what this measurement is! It stands for mebibyte, and represents 1,048,576 bytes, or 1024², a bit bigger than a MB, which is 1,000,000 bytes, or 1000²) of storage space and 8 MiB of memory.
Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau used this NeXT computer at CERN to craft the very first web server software, as well as creating the world's first web browser, WorldWideWeb. When WWW was made available to the public in 1991, NeXT discontinued the NeXT computer and released the NeXTcube, available for $10,000! RAM increased to 16 MB, expandable to 64 MB, and 400 MB/1.4 GB/2.8 GB hard drive space.
Inflation and Web Hosting: Hallelujah! Free Hosting!
When the Internet started to become a bit bigger, free hosting companies hit the market. Costs had decreased a bit, allowing these companies to purchase servers reasonably.
In the beginning…
- GeoCities offered users 1MB of storage.
- Angelfire provided 35KB.
- Tripod offered up 2MB of storage space.
To get an idea for the change in web server numbers, by November of 1992, 26 web servers provided pages to the Internet, and that number increased substantially to 200 by October of 1993!
Paid hosting companies Bluehost and HostMonster hit the market in 1996, and Lycos purchased Angelfire and Tripod along with two dozen or so websites. Back then, a shared hosting solution would set you back a little under $17 on the average.
Inflation and Web Hosting: Today
To this day, you can still create a free hosting website using Angelfire or Tripod. There are millions of servers around the world, with billions of people surfing the web on a daily basis.
If you're looking for a shared hosting plan today, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3-$20 depending on your needs.
The demand for the Internet rose, and with that came the rise in web pages created, and in turn, hosted. This led to falling prices over time. Thanks to the high volume of Internet users, web hosting costs substantially less than it did years ago!
Did you own a website in the early days of the Internet? Do you remember what you paid? We'd love to find out!