The internet has been around for decades. Although we use it every day, there are some surprising 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 was once free
Today, domain name registration costs around $10 to $20 per 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 there was a $100 fee for two-year domain name registration, although it has now been significantly reduced.
2. The first spam email was sent in 1978
Despite strict e-mail filters, spam e-mails still slip through and end up 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’s worth noting that the word “spam” wasn’t used back then. Later in 1993, a USENET user jokingly coined the term “spamming”.
Since then, spam e-mails have been a constant nuisance, even with stricter controls. And if you too are fed up with spam emails, try using disposable email services for website registration.
3. Amazon was originally called Cadabra
It is well known that Amazon started out as a bookstore. But hardly anyone knows that the first name of today’s Amazone was Cadabra. This name was inspired by abracadabra, a magic spell.
However, Jeff Bezos changed the name to Amazon when his attorney felt it was too similar to the word “cadaver.” Bezos then chose Amazon as the new name because it began with A and represented the greatest flow.
4. Facebook’s color is blue because…
Choosing the right color for your brand takes a lot of thought. But that wasn’t the case with Facebook. Being red-green color blind, Mark Zuckerberg chose blue for his idea as it is the most visible color to him.
5. Myspace lost all data uploaded before 2016
Myspace was the most popular social site before the current giants gained ground. It had a lot of early memories for millennials, including some silly ones. But while migrating servers, Myspace accidentally lost all the pictures, videos and songs saved before 2016.
6. Why email addresses contain the @ symbol
Thanks to its use in email addresses, @ has become a commonly used symbol today. However, it was not the same case then. In fact, @ was used in email addresses because it was one of the least used keyboard symbols.
When Ray Tomlinson invented today’s email in 1971, he wanted an icon that could separate the username and host without causing confusion. For all other symbols used in usernames, Ray chose @.
7. The first browser was WorldWideWeb
Berners-Lee, the founder of World Wide Wide, also developed the first browser called WorldWideWeb, later called Nexus. It acted as both a browser and an editor.
However, World Wide Web was not widely adopted, so most people only remember Mosaic and Netscape as the earliest browsers. And if you’re interested in browsers, here’s the history of Internet Explorer.
8. Meaning of CAPTCHA
Although necessary for security reasons, CAPTCHA is perhaps the most annoying thing on the internet. Although we all know what CAPTCHA is, not many people know its meaning.
CAPTCHA is actually an acronym and stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computer and Humans Apart”. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
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 an infinite amount of information available on the internet.
However, when registering a domain name, Sean Anderson mistyped it as Google, and that’s how the search engine got its name.
10. Wi-Fi is not an acronym
As we have already explained, Wi-Fi stands for nothing. Most people think of Wi-Fi as short for wireless fidelity, but that’s not true. The previous name of this technology was IEEE 802.11b, so it was simplified to Wi-Fi. This rhymed with Hi-Fi and was much easier to remember.
However, the Wi-Fi Alliance later used the slogan “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity,” leading many to believe 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 states in his book The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld that the first thing sold online was marijuana.
Although the deal was arranged online, the actual sale took place in person. The first true online transaction was in 1994 when Dan Kohn sold a CD of a music album, with payment made online.
12. Goats mow down the Google and Yahoo headquarters
Tech companies have been working to reduce their carbon emissions for years. But Google and Yahoo went a step further by hiring goats to mow the lawn.
In 2009, Google contracted with California Grazing to provide 200 goats to mow their Mountain View headquarters. Yahoo did the same in 2007. Although these incidents occurred more than a decade ago, we are not sure if this is still the case today.
13. Queen Elizabeth II was the first king to send emails
During her visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in 1976, Queen Elizabeth II sent an e-mail via ARPANET. Peter Kirsten helped her email, making her the first royal to do so.
Although Queen Elizabeth II was among the first to use email, she was a bit late to Twitter and Instagram in 2014 and 2019 respectively.
14. Berners-Lee regrets adding double slashes to URLs
Despite all the praise he’s received for his work, Berners-Lee regrets: Adding double slashes (after “http:”) in URLs.
He thinks he could have omitted those slashes if he’d wanted to. But it was only later that he realized that these slashes were a waste of time and paper.
Internet history is not so boring
Whether you’re a nerd or want to impress your friends with lesser-known facts, you’ll love these. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of similar facts about computers, the internet, and even tech giants like Google. And if you are an internet geek, you will surely find them interesting.