Starting in the early ’80s, many public school curricula were including some basic computer programming at the elementary level. By 1990, most high school graduates had memories of writing code for an animated picture of a clown with balloons, or a monkey peeling a banana, or maybe a kid on a sled sliding down a hill. By 1991, the sale of word processors was through the roof, and public libraries were more and more often found to be “plugged in.’ Anyone wanting to do research using the highest advancements of the day just needed a library card, and the benefit of access to the Internet was free and at one’s fingertips. And it was in 1991 that the World Wide Web was released to the public.
Before long, personal word processors were obsolete. No sooner did the Web go public than people wanted convenient access to it, and they could have it. Public web access shot personal computer popularity and sales sky high. Shortly thereafter, web hosting was born.
Today, navigating the Internet is almost like navigating a personal watercraft on the open ocean; one person could spend a lifetime sailing, only see half the sights there are to see, and only cover a fraction of the total surface area of the ocean itself. The same is true of the World Wide Web, and a number of advances in web hosting are the reason.
Many current PC users don’t remember the dial-up days, back in the mid-90s. Those were also the days when software came only on disks. The average consumer had no idea what an operating system was before going to the nearest retailer for the equipment necessary to get plugged into the web from home, and there were relatively few choices in operating systems for those who weren’t tech-savvy. People just trusted the sales clerk to point them to the right boxes, followed the directions after they got everything opened, and commonly were given bad news: if they didn’t have the right company providing their phone service, and didn’t live in an area that was covered by the phone service required, then the World Wide Web would remain out of reach for a while longer. For those who could access an ISP, the software needed to achieve computer-ISP interface seemed limited to Windows and Linux. All others were touted as unreliable, and lacked customer service and technical support resources. And web hosting? It was still strictly reserved for the companies that could afford to pay the significant costs of that service.
Now, personal computer components and internet access software programs are as plentiful and as interchangeable as Legos. Virtually every company that provides telecommunication service is also an Internet Service Provider. Windows is just one of a multitude of software and telecom companies that not only assist with Internet access, not only provide software downloads that eliminates the need for disks, but hosts websites for anyone that can point and click.
The first home system hard drives had very limited memory space, and the same was true of server system drives. Web hosting tied up massive numbers of components needed to provide the digital storage space for the websites being created. Technological innovations have come light years from that starting point just over 20 years ago. The first PCs came standard with 64KB of memory. Now, typical desktop systems have 4GB of standard memory and can be upgraded to as much 8GB. Those same innovations make it possible for companies like M6.net, along with dozens upon dozens of others, to provide Windows hosting provided by AccuWeb VPS hosting easily to everyone who wants a website presence .
Social Media and The Cloud
As personal usage of the Internet has grown, more and more people have substituted Instant Messaging for phone calls. Emails have become the preferred standard over posted hand-written letters. With those communication paradigm shifts, the market opening for services like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc., became clear. Digital photo technology, and it’s ability to allow photos to be uploaded to online social accounts, is only one in a long list of applications that made the evolution of The Cloud inevitable. Server farms have boosted the available memory space and bandwidth to seemingly infinite proportions, and that’s a good thing; over 76% of North Americans are on the Internet, and at only 12% of the global online total, the world needs that near-limitless virtual space.
Part of the cost in the early days of web hosting involved large overhead fees to house and run the hardware. Because of the growth factors discussed above, along with the increased memory and bandwidth capacities that have been developed, corporate websites can be hosted for as little as $3.75/month, and most personal websites get free hosting. With exponential increases in providers and memory comes great discounts.
The Growth of Public Computer Literacy (or The Simplification of the Learning Curve)
Once upon a time, the prospect of using a computer was a daunting one for the average person. Acquiring one for home use was intimidating, and the trouble of figuring out how to install the components and the software led to a relatively limited pay-off. Now, we have iPhones. We have GPS. Our kids use our tablets to play games based on their favorite television shows or movies. All of it is more affordable than anyone could have imagined back in the days before WiFi. All of it barely takes more effort than it takes to put a plug in a wall. Little of it takes more than a touch of a button or two to activate. And as the population of Internet-savvy web users grows, so grows the need for web hosting.
The digital technology age is upon us. The Internet as we know it today hardly resembles its humble beginnings. The web access that many take for granted today didn’t even exist twenty five years ago. And in that relatively brief span, the symbiotic relationship between web hosting and popular demand has made possible the growth of a virtual universe without which we might just be lost.