NAVIGATING THE FACTS

Travel Through Time With These 10 Facts About The History Of The Internet


Published on February 1, 2024


Credit: Franck

Picture yourself navigating through the city with a paper map or asking strangers for directions on the street. Today, it would be a bit unusual, right?

In the old days , those were some of the daily challenges. Staying connected with a friend was no easy task; you had to take the time to write a letter and wait days or weeks for the mail to cover the distances.

While life today seems impossible without the convenience of instant connection and communication, there was a time when these elements were not part of our reality.

To bridge the gap between yesterday and today, we're going to tell you these 10 interesting facts about the history–and the present–of the Internet that might surprise you.

1

You can still enter the first-ever website

Credit: Museums Victoria

Although nowadays creating a website is not so difficult, some 20 years ago it was a very challenging task, especially because no one had ever done it before.

http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html was the first website in the world and, of course, it was created by the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee.

This site was born in 1991 , when we were still very young, and was designed to share and classify information about the World Wide Web project.

The interesting fact is that you can still access this webpage . But be careful, don't expect it to be like today's sites. Entering there will feel like taking a trip to the times when the web was taking its first steps.

2

The purpose behind the "@" symbol in your email address

Credit: Merve Sehirli Nasir

In the early 70s , visionary Ray Tomlinson was working on a messaging system for the ARPANET, the predecessor of our familiar Internet. His intention was to enable different computers to communicate with each other. And so he did. He is now credited with the creation of the email.

But one thing was missing: a symbol that separates the user name from the domain name in email addresses without creating confusion. This is where our @ comes in. Although the @ symbol is everywhere now, it was not very popular then, making it an unlikely choice for users to include in their email names. Smart choice, right?

3

This is why Facebook is blue

Credit: Alexander Shatov

Some brands achieve what every brand wants: to create unmistakable logos . Just remember the bold red of Coca-Cola, the bright yellow of McDonald's golden arches, or the green and white of the Starbucks logo.

In the world of social media, Facebook's blue stands out as one of the most recognizable colors. But there's more to this choice than mere marketing.

There is another reason why Mark Zuckerberg, the famous creator of Facebook , chose this color: he is colorblind to green and red hues. As he stated in a 2010 interview with the New Yorker, blue is the color he perceives most vividly.

4

The meaning of CAPTCHA

Credit: Karen Grigorean

Imagine someone from centuries ago arriving in our time and discovering that we need to click on a box to confirm that we are not robots . It would undoubtedly blow their minds.

This little window when entering a website, prompting you to identify images, is a CAPTCHA, and it basically gives you a test to prove that you are not a bot trying to break a site's or an account's security.

While you might recognize the name, few know what this acronym truly stands for.

Well, it's a specific description of its task. CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart." With that extension, turning the name of this tool into an acronym was inevitable.

5

The Wi-Fi name

Credit: Dreamlike Street

Let's bust some myths here. Unlike CAPTCHA, the word WiFi doesn't have a meaning. At least it didn't when it was invented.

Commonly, WiFi is thought to be an acronym for "wireless fidelity," as a nod to Hi-Fi (High Fidelity). Although this makes sense (you know, because it is indeed a wireless connection), its name is not an acronym.

In fact, WiFi was created as a simple, catchy word that everyone could easily remember but with no specific meaning. Marketing at its best!

6

The first YouTubeyoutube video is still on the site

Credit: Sara Kurfeß

Creating content for YouTube has evolved into a full-time job nowadays. Most videos are now polished productions that can span hours. But the platform's beginnings were quite different.

Jawed Karim, one of YouTube's founders, uploaded the very first video in 2005 , more than 18 years ago! Titled "Me at the Zoo," this pioneering piece lasts just 19 seconds and is still on the site.

The short video of Jawed speaking at the San Diego Zoo has already more than 300 million views, and that number is increasing every day!

7

The first country to make the Internet a legal right

Credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm

Over the years, the Internet's explosive growth has revolutionized the way we present ourselves to the world and interact with each other.

It also allows people to share their insights and talents, unlocking opportunities for everyone.

In today's world, the Internet is extremely important. It's not just about keeping in touch; some of the crucial stuff in our everyday lives relies on it.

Those who truly got it are the Finns because, in 2010, Finland proudly became the first country to ensure every citizen has the right to access the Internet. Let's hope other countries join the party!

8

Google's name comes from a mistake

Credit: Brett Jordan

If you've recently made a mistake or find yourself worrying about potential errors in your life, relax. We all make mistakes, even the greatest geniuses . And that's what happened to the creators of Google , or should we say the creators of Googol ?

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the search engine, the name they thought for it was "googol," which is the term for the number 10 100 (1 followed by one hundred zeroes). However, due to a misspelling, the official name ended up being Google.

Who says mistakes can't lead to amazing things?

9

The first webcam video showed a coffee pot

Credit: Goran Ivos

The first webcam owes its existence to coffee . Well, that's one way to tell the story!

Most of us appreciate a good cup of coffee during working hours. Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky knew this well while working in a Cambridge University lab in 1991 . But they had a problem: the coffee maker was on another floor.

To solve the major issue of walking all the way to that room just to find an empty coffee pot, they came up with a great idea.

They developed a device that kept an eye on the coffee pot and transmitted the action to their lab computer. Thanks to the cam, the coffee maker became famous on the World Wide Web two years later!

10

The most popular website

Credit: Firmbee.com

Being popular on the Internet has its advantages these days. The number of followers or clicks to your content can be a game-changer.

With millions of users navigating millions of websites daily, having the title of the most visited is a remarkable feat. You likely already know that the crown for the most popular site goes to our beloved Google, which got more than 85 billion visits just in 2023!

According to Forbes magazine, up until 2023, the G giant remained firmly in first place, with the renowned YouTube and Facebook following , though at a bit of a distance.


GOOGLE IT

9 Brands That Became Words


Published on February 1, 2024


Credit: Slidebean

If you ever googled a fact to finally put an end to an over-extended discussion, if you xeroxed a document to produce an exact duplicate, or if you ever rushed to cover a fresh wound with a band-aid ; welcome to the intriguing world of generic trademarks.

These are brand names that are ingrained in our collective lexicon to such an extent that they've become generic words, sometimes giving rise to brand new verbs. They've become synonymous with the product or service that they offer. We'll list only a few examples; can you think of more?

1

Google

Credit: Federica Galli

This one is so ubiquitous that we just had to include it on our list. Google is not only the most visited site in the world, but it's also the most widely used search engine. For over a decade, it has been the default search engine on multiple platforms and devices, including Apple's iMac, iPad, and iPhone.

The act of searching the internet through Google has become so intertwined with our daily lives that the brand is now generically used as a verb for doing just that. If you don't believe me, google it!

2

Velcro

Credit: Aditya Romansa

We get it: Hoop-and-loop fastener is just a mouthful. As you may know, Velcro is actually the name of a privately owned British company founded by the Swiss inventor George de Mestral, who was the first person to design and commercially sell… well, hoop-and-loop fasteners . His product proved to be so popular that, luckily, the name Velcro just stuck.

De Mestral chose the name Velcro because it's a portmanteau of the French words velours , "velvet", and crochet, "hook." It is now used as a generic word for all similar products.

3

Xerox

Credit: ageing_better

This one has a bit of a complicated history, as Xerox –the company– is firmly opposed to their trademark being used as a generic term. In their own words, "You can not xerox a document, but you can copy it on a Xerox Brand copying machine."

Despite their efforts, there is no doubt that the word has entered the common lexicon , and even the Oxford English Dictionary lists xerox , as a verb, as a synonym for "photocopying."

4

Zipper

Credit: Nina Cuk

The original name for a zipper is "clasp-locker," but we wouldn't blame you if you didn't know that. Even though the device had been around for a while, the name zipper dates back only to the 1920s. The B.F. Goodrich Company used zippers as a closing mechanism for its line of rubber overshoes and trademarked the name. The rest, as they say, is history.

5

Escalator

Credit: Caesar Aldhela

The name Escalator , with a capital E , was first applied to a single prototype of a moving stairway shown at the 1900s Paris Exposition and trademarked by the Otis Elevator Company.

As we now know, the technology was widely adopted and, soon, escalators took the world by storm. However, the Otis Elevator Company did little to protect its trademark and, by the 1950s, a court order declared the world to be of public domain.

6

Podcast

Credit: Jonathan Velasquez

While the word podcast wasn't born as a brand, there's one cleverly hidden in it. If you were around in the 2000s, you'll probably have fond memories of Apple's iPod. The now-discontinued portable media player was as ubiquitous then as the smartphones that displaced it are now. For a while, it almost achieved generic trademark status by itself.

As you may have noticed, the word podcast was fashioned as a portmanteau of the words "iPod" and "broadcast," despite the fact that they can be accessed through a myriad of different devices. Through this quirk of etymology, the legacy of the iPod carries on.

7

Frisbee

Credit: Wolfgang Hasselmann

The unassuming flying disc was branded and rebranded quite a few times. It went by names such as Whirlo-Way, Flying-Saucer, and Pluto Platter. However, the one that finally hit the mark was Frisbee ****.

Allegedly, the founders of Wham-O –the company that owns the Frisbee trademark– coined the name after learning that their toy was already being called that way by Yale college students. The word is a corruption of Frisbie , the name engraved on the tins of the Frisbie Pie Company.

8

Yo-yo

Credit: Mick Haupt

Like the frisbee, the yo-yo is one of those toys that seem to have been with humanity since time immemorial. There are depictions of children playing with yo-yo-like toys painted on ancient Greek vases.

The word yo-yo is of Philippine origin, and it means "come-come." Its trademark history begins with Pedro Flores, a Filipino immigrant to the United States who founded the Flores Yo-Yo Company. The trademark was eventually acquired by Donald Duncan, who you might know by the slogan "If it's not a Duncan, it's not a yo-yo." Due to its popular use, the word yo-yo has been declared generic in the US since the 1960s.

9

Band-Aid

Credit: Diana Polekhina

The epitome of a generic trademark , you will not hear adhesive bandage said out loudin any household in the United States: the word for it is band-aid . The brand is incredibly popular even outside the US: Since World War II, Johnson & Johnson has estimated a sale of over a billion band-aids worldwide.

Despite its generic use, Johnson & Johnson continues to hold and defend its band-aid trademark, and the term can't be used commercially by any other company.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

quibble

/ˈkwɪb(ə)l/