A brief history of Broadband

To see how far we’ve come, we’ll first need to take a look at where it all started...
A brief history of Broadband

The 1960s - the birth of the internet

The first real computer network work was developed in the early 60s and was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) - they really loved their crazy acronyms back then!

In October 1963, the first message was sent between two computers in the US, one at Stanford and the other at UCLA (a distance of around 350 miles).

The message itself was simply the word ‘Login’. Unfortunately, the network crashed at the letter ‘g’. Which also makes it the first time someone threw their arms up and shouted, “oh for goodness sake, the internet’s dropped out!” – at least, that’s what we think happened.

Old computer

The 1970s - web communication starts to pick up the pace

Things had started to move a bit quicker by ‘70s. ARPANET had grown to almost 50 locations across the US, the first email was introduced, we saw the first PC modem, and you can thank a guy called Gary Thuerk for being the first sender of SPAM email. He sent 600 emails to ARPANET users advertising his company, Digital Equipment Corporation. Thanks a lot, Gary.

The 1980s – the term World Wide Web is coined

Progress ticked along quite nicely through the ‘80s. ARPANET grew to over 30,000 hosts, we saw the first emoticon : - ) and Tim Berners-Lee wrote his proposal for what we now know as the World Wide Web.

90s computer

The 1990s – the internet goes mainstream

The ‘90s brought us the commercialisation of the internet, completely revolutionising the way we buy things. The first sale on ‘Echo Bay’ was made in 1995, and you guessed it, Echo Bay later became eBay. Amazon dot com was also launched in 1995 but didn’t actually become profitable for 6 years.

In 1998, the first file-sharing service hit the internet in the form of Napster. It wasn’t exactly speedy though, start downloading a 4-minute music video on a Monday, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to watch it at the weekend.

We were also introduced to something truly revolutionary; Google. Suddenly, you could find the answer to practically any question in an instant, like “why is my poop green?”. Seriously, that’s the fourth most asked question on Google according to mondovo.com.

using desktop computer at home desk

The 2000s – the birth of Social Media

So, on that note, let’s fast forward to the 2000s. This was the decade when things really got moving! It became possible to access more information quicker than ever before thanks to increased bandwidth and faster connections.

We saw the rise (and fall) of social media giants - who remembers MySpace?

And, mobile internet which was given a huge boost by the launch of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007, which introduced a whole new way of accessing the web.

using laptop with a phone

The 2010s - the world goes streaming crazy!

Photo sharing was set to explode through the next decade with the launch of both Instagram and Pinterest in 2010 and with the internet becoming far more image-based, websites started to look a lot more engaging.

In 2012, Netflix launched in the UK bringing on-demand TV and Movies to millions of homes and by 2016, Netflix had achieved over 5 million subscribers in the UK. But with all this extra content, came a need for much faster internet connections.

Mother and daughter watching a film on a laptop

Back when Netflix introduced its streaming service, the average internet speed in the UK was just 1.4Mbps, now it's nearly 40 times faster at 54.2mbps. The means we can stream even the highest quality 4K movies and buffering has become an annoyance of the past.

So, where are we now?

Today, it’s all about speed, bandwidth and smart tech. Ten years ago, it would have taken around three hours to download an average movie – and that’s as long as your connection held out. With some of today’s fastest speeds, it’s possible to download the same movie in under 3 minutes. And that’s about to become about 3 seconds with the introduction of 5G mobile data.

At Carphone Warehouse, our broadband packages are able to reach speeds of up to 150mbps, and there’s very little you can’t do with that much speed! Whether you’re online gaming, streaming 4K movies or downloading large files in the blink of an eye.

And the latest broadband tech lets you connect all your smart devices to create a fully kitted out smart home. Smart tech makes everything easy, from Googling using your voice, to getting a helping hand in the kitchen, broadband makes it all possible.

Check out our full range of broadband deals

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