Diving Into the Interesting History of Web Hosting


history of web hostingIf there is no web hosting, there are no websites. The history of website hosting dates back to 1969, when ARPANET was created.

Next, the rise of the Internet brought opportunities for business and sharing information, and websites and web hosting became a significant part of this. It facilitated the global distribution of content and communication, growing alongside the expansion of the Internet. 

In this article, we are pleased to explore the intriguing beginning of shared hosting / web hosting, revealing its important contribution to the history of the Internet.

1969 – ARPANET was created

Back in the 1960s, some smart folks in the government had an idea: connect a bunch of computers together so they could easily share information.

When the Cold War was heating up and people worried about nuclear attacks, there was a push to link computers all over the USA. This was to make sure that if certain places got hit, important information wouldn’t be lost. So, they made something called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

In 1969, the first computer joined this network at the Universit


y of California, Los Angeles. Soon after, in October, three more computers joined in at the University of Utah, the Stanford Research Institute, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

But things didn’t stop there. In 1990, ARPANET retired, and the US government teamed up with big phone and internet companies to build something even bigger—what we now know as the Internet.

1971 – Email was introduced

Nowadays, the option to create an email address with your domain name seems like an integral part of a web hosting plan. Exchanging messages started in the 1960s, but they could be sent only between people using the same computer, or if both users were online at the same time. This changed in 1971 when Raymond Tomlinson, an ARPANET programmer, introduced the first system that could send messages between different hosts connected to the network.

In 1973, email communication accounted for 75% of the activity over the network. Tomlinson is officially recognized as the inventor of the email as we know it today. He introduced the modern-day syntax that includes the “@” sign to separate usernames from hostnames. An interesting fact is that he created the system on his own initiative as it seemed a good idea, and not as a part of an ARPANET project

1983 – The Domain Name System was introduced

Before 1983, if you wanted to reach a server on the global network, you had to type in i numerical address, known as the IP address. As more and more servers joined the network, keeping track of all those numbers became a real challenge. That’s when the Domain Name System (DNS) came into play, aiming to simplify things.

The DNS brought a solution by assigning names to these numeric addresses. Instead of remembering strings of numbers, people could use user-friendly names. The system started off with seven main Top-Level Domains (TLDs), also known as extensions: .com, .net, .org, .int, .mil, .gov, and .edu.

As 1986 drew to a close, only six domain names had been officially registered. Among them, the pioneering name symbolics.com stood out as the very first .com domain to ever exist.

1991 – The World Wide Web was born

Back in 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, working as a contractor at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), put together a personal database called ENQUIRE. This system connected people and information through a technology known as hypertext, which uses hyperlinks within text to weave documents together.

Fast forward to 1989, when Berners-Lee proposed something groundbreaking: a worldwide network of these interconnected hyperlinks. The goal was to make it easier for physicists all over the globe to access information. He pondered several names for this system, including Information Mesh, Information Mine, and Mine of Information. But ultimately, he settled on a term that has become synonymous with the internet we know today – the World Wide Web.

By the close of 1990, Berners-Lee had crafted a suite of tools and services that would redefine internet usage. Among these, the most crucial was the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which formed the backbone of data exchange on the Web. He also gave birth to the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the foundation for displaying text and images online—a language still in use today. Adding to this innovative mix, he built the inaugural web browser, named WorldWideWeb, which featured a web editing tool. And to complete the circle, he created the very first web server.

1992 – The Beginnings of Colocation Web Hosting

Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS) became a pioneer in colocation web hosting through their Internet exchange point known as MAE-East. A few ISPs decide to connect their networks through MAE-East, and MFS provides colocation facilities for them.

1994 – The first version of the SSL protocol was introduced

In 1994, Netscape, the same company behind the Netscape Navigator web browser, introduced the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. This technology was designed to enhance the security of online communications. However, as time progressed, various security vulnerabilities came to light, leading to the replacement of SSL with the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol in 1999. Interestingly, despite the shift, the term “SSL” is still widely used by most people.

The safeguarding of online data also involves security certificates, commonly known as “SSL certificates,” which play a crucial role in encrypting user-submitted information on websites. In the past, these certificates were often pricey. However, a game-changer arrived a few years back with the introduction of Let’s Encrypt.

This initiative, known as a certificate authority, revolutionized the scene by providing free SSL certificates. These certificates, backed by Let’s Encrypt, are now readily accessible and fully supported across all ICDSoft hosting plans.

1995 – Free Web Hosting, AIT, Inc., and the Launch of Internet Explorer

During this period, platforms like Geocities and Tripod emerged, bringing forth the concept of free web hosting. Their strategy involved incorporating banner ads as a means of generating income. Notably, in the same timeframe, Advanced Internet Technologies, Inc. (AIT) was established.

This entity gained prominence for pioneering VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting, a distinct concept from virtual hosting. As a significant achievement, AIT stands out not only for introducing this innovative hosting approach but also for securing its place as one of the globe’s largest privately owned web hosting enterprises.

1996 – Microsoft Releases ASP

Microsoft introduced ASP (Active Server Pages), a server-side script engine that empowers users to craft engaging and dynamic interactive pages.    

1998 – Content Delivery Networks (CDN), Rackspace, and Hostway Launch

In this pivotal year, Akamai Technologies, Inc. emerged onto the scene, establishing itself as a pioneer in content delivery networks (CDNs), a domain it continues to dominate as one of the largest providers globally. Simultaneously, Rackspace, a prominent player in the expansive landscape of cloud computing, also takes its inaugural steps, eventually becoming a major force within the industry.

Furthermore, 1998 marks the commencement of Hostway’s journey, solidifying its reputation as one of the earliest dedicated hosting providers, showcasing its long-standing presence in the field.

2000 – Domain Name Registrars

During this period, a surge of domain name registrars emerges, contributing to a growing landscape. Notably, Domain.com makes its debut, eventually establishing itself as a notable contender in both the domain name registry and web hosting sectors, attaining prominence as time unfolds.

In tandem, Namecheap, Inc. cInc., into existence as well. Fast forward to the 2010s, and Namecheap cements its reputation as one of the premier domain registrars and web hosting enterprises, solidifying its position as a top player in these domains.

2002 – Amazon Launched Amazon Web Services

Amazon web services AWS

Through the introduction of adaptable cloud computing, relational database services, and on-demand cloud storage, Amazon fundamentally reshaped the hosting landscape. While there were antecedents in the cloud service sector, including both Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models, Amazon Web Services (AWS) captured considerable attention due to its comprehensive suite of offerings, user-friendly administration, and a flexible pay-as-you-go operational structure.

This distinctive blend of attributes propelled AWS into widespread popularity, subsequently propelling Amazon to a commanding position in the market, currently holding nearly 50% of the cloud services sector, well ahead of its competitors.

2004 – SquareSpace and Flickr Launched

In a significant stride, Anthony Casalena crafts software tailored for website hosting and establishes Squarespace as a company. Today, Squarespace holds the distinction of being the fifth-largest web hosting company on a global scale.

Concurrently, Ludicorp introduces Flickr, a platform designed for hosting images and videos. Notably, numerous bloggers adopt Flickr to host the images featured in their blog posts.  

2006 – Cloud Hosting

The launch of Amazon Web Services marks a watershed moment. With the introduction of Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud, or EC2, AWS plays a pivotal role in popularizing the concept of cloud computing.  

2008 – Google Cloud Platform was Launched

Google unveiled App Engine, a pioneering step that undergoes further development over the course of the decade and eventually rebrands as Google Cloud Platform. This transformation empowers users with cloud hosting capabilities on a global scale, leveraging one of the most expansive networks in existence.

2011 – The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Bill was Introduced

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith puts forth a proposal, aiming to empower copyright holders and the U.S. Department of Justice to obtain court orders against websites featuring copyrighted material without authorization. This proposition triggers opposition from significant web hosting entities, driven by several concerns.

Among them, the bill’s provisions would necessitate comprehensive monitoring of all hosted sites, putting these companies in a challenging position. Additionally, the legislation could potentially subject them to unwarranted legal actions and enable the suspension of their domains based on a single instance of infringing content. Ultimately, the bill met its end in 2012, marked by its eventual demise.

2012 – A New Generic Top-level Domain System was Instituted

Under the novel system, users are empowered to propose fresh generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for evaluation and endorsement. These emerging gTLDs leaned towards a highly specialized nature, encompassing examples like .bike, .clothing, or .plumbing. The year’s conclusion witnessed a substantial influx, with a total of 1,930 applications for new domain names. 

2016 – ICANN’s Contract with the U.S. Government Expires

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has played a vital role in coordinating the Domain Name System and IP address numbers since 1998, finishes its contract with the U.S. government. The private sector is now responsible for ICANN’s IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) functions, such as IP address allocation and DNS root zone management. 


In Summary 

web hosting for your website

As we conclude this journey through the captivating history of web hosting, it’s clear that this integral aspect of the Internet has come a long way. From the early days of shared hosting to the dynamic landscape we have today, web hosting’s evolution has shaped how we experience the online world.

Understanding its roots helps us appreciate the complex technologies that power our favorite websites and apps. So, next time you use or navigate your favorite apps or websites, remember the fascinating story of web hosting and shared hosting that paved the way for today and the future. 

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