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Timeline: The 30-Year History of the World Wide Web

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The World Wide Web is now as old as the typical millennial.

On March 12, the World Wide Web celebrated its 30th birthday. Over the last three decades, we’ve seen it mature from the first webpage to having a ubiquitous presence in our lives.

Visualizing the History of the World Wide Web

Today’s infographic comes to us from the App Institute, and highlights key milestones since the inception of the web. We’ll look at some major developments on this timeline that defined what the web is today.

30 Years of the World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee Proposes The World Wide Web on March 12, 1989

Although the giant network of computers that formed the Internet – and its “ARPANET” predecessor – already existed, there was no universal way of writing, transmitting, storing, and accessing the Internet in a clean and organized manner.

A computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee is credited with the first formalized proposal of what he would later call the “World Wide Web”.

Web Proposal Flow Chart
A flow chart of Berners-Lee’s vision in 1989. Source: W3

From this vision, his work would go on to develop and influence assets the web still uses today like hypertext (links), webpages, and browsers.

The founder of the World Wide Web is still around, and most recently Berners-Lee has been fighting for his vision of an open and decentralized Internet.

Browser Wars

Mosaic was the first browser to popularize “surfing the web”. Launched in 1993, Mosaic’s graphical user interface (GUI) made it easy for the average user to browse multimedia webpages.

Soon after, developers from Mosaic launched Netscape Navigator in 1994, introducing features used today like HTTP cookies and JavaScript.

The first browser war began when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer in 1995. Unlike Netscape, Internet Explorer was free of charge. Microsoft overtook Netscape with help from their deep pockets and the fact that they held over 90% of the desktop operating system market share.

This would eventually lead to the U.S. government filing an anti-trust case against Microsoft for engaging in anti-competitive practices – but Internet Explorer escaped mostly unaffected, with it’s market share climbing to 96% by 2002.

Today, the second browser war has largely been dominated by Google Chrome, which launched in 2008 and overtook Internet Explorer by 2012.

Browser Market Share
Source: StatCounter

Web Crawling: Search

Search engines helped popularize the web by making information easily accessible and searchable. Web Crawler was the first search engine that allowed users to search for words and terms on a webpage.

Web Crawler Search Engine
Source: App Institute

Since then, dozens of search engines have launched, but one player has dominated the search market. Today, over 90% of searches online are made through Google.

The Social Internet

In the late 1990s, online diaries and “blogging” websites like Open Diary, LiveJournal and Blogger popularized people sharing their thoughts to an audience online.

This evolved into social networking sites like Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook, which allowed people to “add” their friends and follow their lives online.

Today, of course, Facebook dominates the Social Media Universe with over 2.2 billion users.

Smartphone Revolution

The launch of iPhones and Androids in 2007 – 2008 ushered in a new era where people could access the web from their phones. Before this, websites on phones were clunky to use and mostly resembled their desktop counterparts. Third-party apps and websites designed for mobile touchscreens changed the way we browsed the web.

By 2016, mobile phones surpassed desktops and laptops as our favorite way to access the web:

Web Access Device Market Share
Source: StatCounter

Privacy: You’re the Product Now

With billions of people accessing the web, the trail of data left behind has become extremely profitable for tech giants like Google and Facebook. The data they collect from people’s private information, online behaviors, and demographics allow advertisers to perfectly target consumers.

With ever growing privacy scandals, and even the creation of surveillance states, how people’s privacy and data is handled will likely be the most important issue for the future of the web.

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Business

Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?

Which companies have stood the test of time? This detailed map highlights the oldest company in every country that is still in business.

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Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?

View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.

In just a few decades, it’s possible that some of today’s most recognized companies may no longer be household names.

Corporate longevity, or the average lifespan of a company, has been shrinking dramatically.

In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was projected to last for more than 60 years. However, with the rapidly transforming business landscape today, it’s down to just 18 years.

The Companies With the Strongest Staying Power

Even with companies skewing younger, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Luckily, many companies around the world have stood the test of time, and today’s detailed map from Business Financing highlights the oldest company in existence in each country.

For centuries, here are the world’s oldest corporations which have made their mark:

YearCompany NameCountryIndustry
578Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd.JapanConstruction
803St.  Peter Stifts KulinariumAustriaService Industry (Restaurant)
862Staffelter HofGermanyDistillers, Vintners, & Breweries (Winery)
864Monnaie de ParisFranceManufacturing & Production (Mint)
886The Royal MintEnglandManufacturing & Production (Mint)
900Sean’s BarIrelandService Industry (Pub)
1040Pontificia Fonderia MarinelliItalyManufacturing & Production (Bell foundry)
1074Affligem BreweryBelgiumDistillers, Vintners, & Breweries
1135Munke MølleDenmarkManufacturing & Production (Flour Mill)
1153Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken HouseChinaService Industry (Restaurant)

Whether they were born out of necessity to support a rapidly growing population—requiring new infrastructure and more money circulation—or simply to satisfy peoples’ thirst for alcohol or hunger for fried chicken, these companies continue to play a lasting role.

The Oldest Company in Every Country, by Region

Let’s dive into the regional maps, which paint a different picture for each continent.

In the following maps, countries are color-coded based on the major industry that the oldest company falls under:

  • Primary: Natural resources
  • Secondary: Manufacturing and processing
  • Tertiary: Services and distribution
  • Quaternary: Knowledge and information

Notes on Methodology:

This research considers both state-run and independent businesses in their definitions. For countries where data was hard to pin down, they have been grayed out.

As well, since many countries have a relatively new inception, present-day names and borders have been used. The map does not factor in older companies that are no longer in operation, or if it was unclear whether they were still open.

Click here to explore the full research methodology.

Oldest Company in every country in North America

North America

Mexico’s La Casa de Moneda de México (founded 1534) is the oldest company across North America, and the first mint of America. Owned by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was where the famous ‘pieces of eight’, or Spanish dollars were created.

In the U.S., the Shirley Plantation in Virginia is an ongoing reminder of the history of slavery. First founded in 1613, business actually began in 1638—and as many as 90 slaves were under indentured labor on the estate growing tobacco.

Further north, Canada’s Hudson’s Bay (founded 1670) was at the helm of the fur trade between European settlers and First Nations tribes—the two parties agreed on beaver pelts as a common, valuable trade standard.

Oldest Company in every country in North America

South America

Three of the five oldest companies in South America are mints—specifically in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.

The oldest of these mints, Casa Nacional de Moneda in Peru, was built on order from Spain and established in 1565. After the great influx of newly-mined silver from America to Europe, the Spanish crown outlined to King Felipe II that building a mint would give the colony economic benefits and more control.

Oldest Company in every country in Europe

Europe

In total, 15 of Europe’s oldest companies are related to the food and beverage industries, from distilleries, vintners (winemaking), and breweries alongside restaurants and pubs. Austria’s St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium (founded in 803) is Europe’s oldest restaurant, located inside the St. Peter’s Abbey monastery.

Although Germany is famously known for its beer culture, its oldest company is in fact the Staffelter Hof Winery (founded in 862). Today, Germany is still a top wine country, with the industry generating up to $17 billion in revenue per year.

Oldest Company in every country in Asia

Asia

Asia has six oldest companies in the banking and finance category, as well as another six in the aviation and transport sector. The continent is also home to two of the world’s oldest companies, located in Japan and China.

The Japanese temple and shrine construction company, Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd. (founded in 578) has weathered a few storms over the millennia, from nuclear bombs to financial crises. In 2006, it was bought by the construction conglomerate, Takamatsu Construction Group Co., and continues to operate today.

In neighboring China, Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House has endured dynasties of change as well. The company’s simple premise has come a long way, and it was named a cultural heritage in the country’s Henan Province.

Oldest Company in every country in Africa

Africa

Africa’s oldest companies are another vestige of the colonial legacy, with 11 transport companies—airlines, ports and shipping, and railways—and 9 postal services.

In fact, Cape Verde’s Correios de Cabo Verde (postal service, founded in 1849) and the DRC’s Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (national railway company, founded in 1889) still go by their Portuguese and French names respectively.

Banking is another one of the oldest industries, with 17 companies across Africa. Zimbabwe’s Standard Chartered branch has been around since 1892, a subsidiary of its London-based parent company.

Oldest Company in every country in Oceania

Oceania

Australia officially became a country on January 1st, 1901—but its oldest company, the Australia Post (founded in 1809) precedes this by almost a century.

Interestingly, just one more old company could be located for this region, which is the Bank of New Zealand—one of the country’s Big Four banks.

All in all, these oldest companies paint a historical picture of the major industries which have shaped entire regions.

Did you recognize any on the list?

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History

Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)

This animation provides a nostalgic look back at the market share of various web browsers, from Netscape Navigator to Google Chrome.

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browser market share

Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)

Web browsers are a ubiquitous part of the internet experience and one of the most commonly used digital tools of the modern era.

Since the first rudimentary interfaces were created in the 1990s, a number of browsers have entered the market, with a select few achieving market dominance over our access to web content.

Today’s bar chart race video, by the YouTube channel Data is Beautiful, is a nostalgic look back at how people used to access the internet, from Mosaic to Chrome.

The First Wave of Browsers

Simply put, web browsers are the software applications that act as our portal to the internet. Today, aside from the occasional pop-up box, we barely notice them. In the early ’90s though, when the web was in its infancy, the crude, boxy interfaces were a revolutionary step in making the internet usable to people with access to a computer.

The first step in this journey came in 1990, when the legendary Tim Berners-Lee developed the first-ever web browser called “WorldWideWeb” – later renamed Nexus. Nexus was a graphical user interface (GUI) that allowed users to view text on web pages. Images were still beyond reach, but since most connections were dial-up, that wasn’t much of a limitation at the time.

Nexus browser example

The precurser to the modern browser was Mosaic, originally developed as a temporary project by the the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

After his graduation from UIUC in 1993, Marc Andreessen teamed up with Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, to produce a commercial version of the browser. The resulting software, Netscape Navigator, became the first widely used browser, moving the internet from an abstract concept to a network that was accessible to everyday people. The company soon staged a wildly popular IPO, which saw the 16-month-old startup reach a valuation of nearly $3 billion.

Naturally, the fanfare surrounding Netscape had captured Microsoft’s attention. Immediately after Netscape’s IPO, the first version of Internet Explorer (building off a licensed version of Mozilla) was released. The browser wars had begun.

The Internet Explorer Era

In 1995, Bill Gates was looking to capitalize on the “Internet Tidal Wave”, and was up to the challenge of eating into Netscape’s market share, which stood at about 90%.

A new competitor “born” on the Internet is Netscape. We have to match and beat their offerings…

– Bill Gates

Ultimately, Netscape was no match for Internet Explorer (IE) once it was bundled with the Windows operating system. By the dawn of the new millennium (beware Y2K!) the situation had reversed, with IE capturing over 75% of the browser market share.

With Netscape mostly out of the picture, IE had a stranglehold on the market. In fact, Microsoft’s position was so comfortable that after IE6 was released 2001, the next full version wouldn’t ship until 2006.

It was during this time that a new player came onto the scene. Mozilla Firefox was officially launched in 2004, seeing over 60 million downloads within its first nine months. For the first time in years, Microsoft began to feel the heat of competition.

Goliath and Goliath

Despite the growing popularity for Mozilla Firefox, it was a browser backed by another tech giant that would eventually lead to IE’s downfall – Google Chrome.

Chrome was pitched to the public in 2008 as “a fresh take on the browser”. While Microsoft struggled with open web standards, Chrome’s source code was openly available through Google’s Chromium project.

By 2011, Firefox and Chrome had eroded IE’s market share to below 50%, and a year later, Chrome would end Internet Explorer’s 14-year reign as the world’s top internet browser.

Today, the browser market has come full circle. Chrome has now become the dominant browser on the market, while competitors fight to increase their single-digit market shares. IE has dropped to fourth place.

Looking Back at the Peaks

In the 25 years since Netscape gave people access to the internet, a few browsers have had their moment in the sun. Here are the years of peak market share for all the major browsers:

BrowserPeak Market SharePeak Year
Netscape Navigator90%1995
Internet Explorer95%2004
Opera3%2009
Mozilla Firefox32%2010
Safari7%2012

Once a browser becomes popular, it can be incredibly difficult to carve into its market share. Even during the height of the iPhone era, Apple’s browser, Safari, was only able to manage a 7% market share.

For now, it looks like Chrome will continue to be the world’s preferred method of experiencing the internet. If Chrome’s current trajectory continues, it could become the third major browser to surpass a 90% market share.

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