The Internet is the global computer system of interconnected computer networks using standardized communication protocols providing information and communication facilities to link devices worldwide. The Internet dates back to the 1960s when the United States government commissioned research to build communication with computer networks. Email has been around since the 1960s and file sharing since the 1970s. The primary precursor network was called ARPANET, which served the interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1980s. Following ARPANET was the National Science Foundation Network, which led to worldwide participation of networking technologies and the merging of many networks.
The Internet Protocol Suite TCP/IP was standardized in 1982, which allowed for the worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks. The World Wide Web was created in 1989 by English scientist Tim-Berners-Lee. In the 1990s, as institutional, personal, and mobile computers became connected to the Internet and the Internet became commercialized, its services and technologies became an integral part of virtually every aspect of modern life. Today, it is nearly impossible to communicate and function without the Internet. On any single day in the past five years, there were on average 640,000 people online for the first time (27,000 every hour). While the Internet is technically several decades old, most modern websites and applications are relatively young. Social media platforms started appearing mostly in the mid- to late-2000s, and some later than that. Wikipedia was founded in 2001. The world is very well still in the early stages of the Internet.
Between 2000 and 2016, the number of Internet users increased from 413 million to over 3.4 billion. The number of users in some countries, like Bangladesh and Ghana, has doubled in the last three years alone. The ten countries with the highest number of Internet users are:
- China - 765 million
- India – 391 million
- United States – 245 million
- Brazil – 126 million
- Japan – 116 million
- Russia – 109 million
- Mexico – 75.94 million
- Germany – 73.43 million
- Indonesia – 66.45 million
- United Kingdom – 62.35 million
For China, which has the highest number of Internet users, and India, the country with the second-highest number of users, the largest increase in Internet users in recent years has been smartphone users. The United States has the third-highest number of Internet users and one of the highest percentage of users in the world with 80% of its population being Internet users.