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The Internet Explosion: A Look at the Rate of Growth of the Web

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In 1995, Newsweek published a now-infamous opinion article declaring the Internet would flop. In the article, tellingly entitled “The Internet? Bah!”, the author scoffed at the claim that someday people would be getting their news and information from the internet, and chuckled at the notion that the young world of the web would cause paper books and newspapers to be replaced by digital data. He claimed that the internet will never live up to expectations, asserting it would never truly get off the ground.

Ironically, at the bottom of the site the article now lives on, an ad is now being run for a tablet subscription to Newsweek.

The Break-neck Speed of Progress

While it’s easy to look back and laugh at how far off the mark this Internet-scrooge was in hindsight, the fact of the matter is that the Internet has expanded rapidly in both size and in its role in modern society that the change is mind-boggling. All businesses now must decide between Linux or Windows web hosting, protect their online reputations, and work to master SEO and internet marketing.

However, it was only in 1995, 18 years ago at the time of this writing, the Internet was just getting fully handed over to the private sector. No one could have foreseen the change that the Internet would bring to the world, where today being connected in many countries feels almost like an essential part of daily life.

And when the statistics are examined, the scale of the growth of the internet becomes even more staggering.

In 1993, according to the CIA World Factbook, there were as few as 1 million people in the world connected to the internet. One million is a lot of people, but you know what’s cooler than a million people? A billion people. And less than two decades later, by 2010, the Internet crossed the mark of one billion users.

That’s a growth rate of 1000 percent – almost 60% annually, on average.

Staggeringly, by 2009, it was estimated that the total size of the Internet was over 500 billion gigabytes. A gigabyte is a lot of information. A gigabyte is enough to store hundreds of written books comfortably. 500 billion gigabytes is more gigabytes than there are stars in the Milky Way.

To Infinity, For Real

Not only has the web grown at a huge rate and reached a size of epic proportions, it will probably keep on growing and expanding. The boom in mobile smartphones and mobile data plans has fed demand, growing the need for web-based video and music streaming on phones and tablets everywhere. Expect the Internet to keep on becoming more and more of a leviathan than it is now. The Internet has become gigantic in only a couple decades, and continues to grow and evolve and shape the lives of people everywhere.

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