A History of the Internet on Leap Days

Internet history 1992 to 2016

As it’s 29 February 2016, we thought we’d look back on the internet over each 29 February since it all began!

29 February 1992

IBM had developed a prototype smartphone, but didn’t have a lot to put on it and CERN had recently invented the World Wide Web and launched their first site and it was taking the world by storm … or at least, it was causing small ripples amongst a handful of university-based science departments who were putting servers online.  Only six 29 February’s ago there were less than 10 websites and no-one had even heard of the internet!

29 February 1996

Thanks to CERN making the web technology available worldwide with no royalties due (what would now be called open source) the web expanded rapidly and by 29 February 1996 there were over 50,000 websites online.  Most shared information, however increasingly businesses were looking to the web as a way to market their products and services.

Internet Explorer had recently been released, Yahoo was going strong and Altavista was just launched with a huge database of websites that didn’t require people to manually submit their site to be indexed by the search engine.  Amazon.com and Netflix were launched.  It was still hard to find information online and a lot of searches would lead to a Directory, which would lead to another Directory, which … well, you get the picture!

People connected to the internet on dial-up, meaning a short 600MB movie would take a full 24 hours to download on a good (56 kbps) connection, or 3-5 days on a poor connection.

Yahoo 1994

Yahoo launched in 1994

29 February 2000

Google was already gaining market share over Yahoo and Altavista had become an internet portal and was on its way to obscurity.

Danny Sullivan had just moderated the first ever SEO conference – ‘Search Engine Strategies ‘99’

We were nearing 10,000,000 websites and more and more people were signing up to broadband.  The net was very much a place to do business with PayPal and other services allowing people to pay online.

Google history 1996
Google launched in 1996

29 February 2004

Wordpress and Blogger were being used as early CMS’s and people were creating websites with increasing ease.  Facebook was 25 days old and Wikipedia was going strong and sales of paper-based encyclopaedias were dropping.  Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim were working for PayPal but dreaming of setting up their own company called ‘YouTube’ and videos were starting to become more common on the net with faster internet speeds.

Razorfish had created the first responsive website for Audi.com, designed to look good on different sized browsers.

There were over 40,000,000 websites and the average adult internet user spent 2 or 3 hours a week online.

Facebook history 29 February 2004

Facebook launched 2004

29 February 2008

People were Tweeting on Twitter, microblogging on Tumblr and Dropbox was launched, letting people share files across computers and saving all that transferring data on USB flash drives.

Google Maps were also mapping out the world and Amazon’s Kindle and Smartphones capable of surfing the net with limited capabilities were on the market but hadn’t yet gained popularity.

There were over 130,000,000 websites.

History of Twitter

Twitter launched in 2006

29 February 2012

In 2012 Steve Jobs had died, Microsoft had bought Skype and Google had launched Google+, which users have continued to ignore in preference of Twitter and Facebook.

With more and more people using mobile devices and tablets to surf the net, responsive design was the latest trend.

By February 2012 there were over two billion internet users and around 500,000,000 websites.

29 February 2016

Today there are well over 1,000,000,000 websites and the average adult internet user spends 20 hours a week online.

The last 4 years have seen huge leap forwards in web design, technology and internet speed with more and more users having fibre-optics.  The world of SEO has also transformed, moving towards reflecting true quality of design and content, rather than focusing on the volume of links.

In just six 29 February’s we’ve come a very long way.  I wonder where we’ll be on 29 February 2020?