The internet: a look back in time


Do you remember what life was like without the internet? Being born in the 1970s, my generation is bound-up in the history of the personal computer. We’re living in the Information Age where computers and internet technology is a central part of our daily lives: at The Cogworks it’s our reason for being.

...The scene as a 5MB hard drive is delivered to a customer in 1956

IBM old picture


They clearly didn’t pay much attention to road signs 60 years ago! 

Here at The Cogworks we now like to deliver our products through continuous automated deployment processes!

It's not all black and white

Recently in our London office we held a baby photo competition as part of our Friday Fun Coglympics series. Some of the photos were only in black and white which got me thinking about technology and how the internet has changed both our lifetime and us. We can barely remember life without the internet. Now when I stay at a Airbnb place during my visits to the London office, “what’s the wifi password?” becomes the first and only real question I need answering. 

Q, A, O, P and Z

As a child, my first home computer was the Spectrum ZX81. In 1986 you would probably have found me playing Bricks or Jet Set Willy. Who recalls having to wait 30 minutes or more and change tape five times before the game would load and start?! Imagine waiting 30 minutes nowadays to get your smartphone to boot up in the morning!

Spectrum ZX

By the time I was doing my GCSEs I’d upgraded to an Amiga 1200 which had a 5MB hard drive yet didn’t need four grown men to deliver it.

As the internet exponentially grew in the early to mid 90s, computer technologies have gone on to proliferate our day-to-day lives.

Internet usage in the US

Graph about internet adoption between 1995 and 2011

In the space of less than a lifetime, computer technology went from being a sideline spectacle to utterly mainstream and now a ubiquitous part of modern 21st Century life. 

And, as we see in the graph, since 1995 in the space of 20 years, the percentage of the population online has gone from being a minority to over 80 per cent of the adult population. 

So, how exactly have things changed over time? What can we learn from the history of the first 20 years of the internet and what can we expect in the next 20 years?

Back to the future

This is the start of a blog series where I will look back at the early days of the internet and contrast how things are now as well as what may emerge in the future.

Topics I will touch on include:

- Online form development
- The growth and diversity of internet professions
- Content Management Systems
- Changing standards and habits in web design
- The ever changing web browser
- The growth and power of ‘social media’
- Mobile and tablet technology
- Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality

Watch this space...first up will be a piece on online form development just before Christmas. Consider it an early present!