Up to the turn of the 19th century, there were many attempts to invent a light bulb which would be able to withstand hours and hours of electric current without getting burnt. In 1820, Warren De La Rue used platinum as the conducting filament and well, it managed to lit up but of course, we would be cursing his name up to this day as platinum is very expensive and hard to obtain!

Luckily, a British scientist, Joseph Swan worked hard enough to discover a cheaper cost of creating an incandescent light bulb using carbon filament. And Thomas Edison took his idea and improved the performance of light bulbs and bought Swan's patent of the original design, and hence, the world recognizes Thomas Edison as the one who invented light bulbs.

So, if we were to live in that exact period of time, we would have cried in unison, "Behold! The greatest invention of mankind!". There were also Karl Benz's automobile, which looked like a tricycle, the telephone of Alexander Graham Bell, the stethoscope invention in 1816 by Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe Laennec and lots more.

It is a well known fact that the Islamic Golden age provided a basis for scientific inventions to prosper with countless of discoveries in that era.

As a teenager of the 20th/21st century, i have to admit those inventions are less appreciated by our mundane generation. Some of us appreciate the television, the cd players and music systems, the guitar more than those genius inventions. Some even considered skateboard as the greatest invention to mankind.

But this is the story of the most significant invention of the 20th century, the Internet. Sir Tim Berners-Lee is credited with the invention of the world wide web, but not until the invention of Netscape Navigator that the internet started to appeal to the mainstream public.

Yes, Netscape Navigator was the first web browser, but now a forlorn and forgotten figure. When Netscape was first listed in the IPO, it yielded $ 632 million USD from an initial investment of $ 5 million USD. Well, that's strictly business. But Bill Gates had other ideas. Uneasy with the rise of a small time company, he slowly planned the downfall of Netscape, just as he did with other software companies at that time, such as IBM, Borland, Novel, Lotus and Word Perfect.

Don't let his geeky looks fool you. This guy who envisioned "a pc on every desktop in every home and office and every one of the pcs running on microsoft software" is also a diabolical, monopoly mastermind who exhibits paranoidal traits. Paranoid that Microsoft would one day be left behind in the internet industry. So, Microsoft took bits and parts of Netscape's idea, polished them and on the 7th December 1995 Bill Gates had a meeting with the media to announce their strategic plans of Internet Explorer.

7th December? Pearl Habour Day. The message was simple. Bomb Netscape Navigator. That's the real Bill Gates. And thus, the downfall of Netscape. High on their success, the downfall was also due to Netscape's arrogance, which dubbed Microsoft "a bag of poorly debug device drivers". This is commonly known now as the firt "Browser Wars".

It didn't end there. Netscape eventually filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft, a kind of lawsuit in which small companies have the rights to sue a large company due to their abusive and dominant behavior in business competition. Microsoft eventually lost, but luckily they didn't go bankrupt. Had they gone haywire, i might not be using Windows XP, my current operating system.

Now, there are multiple web browsers you could choose from such as Mozilla Firefox, Maxthon, Safari and the recently launched Google Chrome.

The rapid growth of Internet spells one word. Money. Suddenly, the internet became a platform for business advancements. From advertisements to online shopping, everyone wanted a piece of the internet. Yahoo had multiple colorful ads on their website and later Google, a similarly stupid yet catchy name for a search engine followed suite. Not only ads, these search engines functioned as surveillance machinery to look for people's interests and for these search engines to plan their marketing strategy.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com realized that it was impossible to have a mega bookstore physically holding up to millions of books. So he went on to create a virtual bookstore, with giga or even terabytes of space replacing bookshelfs. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay thought the idea of an online auctioning site. Although there were only second hand junk sold during its inception, eBay slowly picked up pace and became the most famous marketplace on the net. Countless of shops and ordinary people became virtual businessmen and women. Of course there were ups and downs of both Amazon and eBay, but they managed to face them.

Later, internet became the buzz of society. From the controversial Napster to YouTube. Internet is the sensation of the century. Internet, however became the enemy of bands such as Metallica who sued Shawn Fanning, founder of Napster for illegal music sharing.

I never liked Metallica anyway.

Now, a new breed of youngsters have been making headlines. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook is the flavour of the month. Facebook was established with the intention of becoming an "ultimate relationship map" of the world. Microsoft bought 1.6% of the shares worth $ 240 million USD. Do the maths, and the company itself would be worth an estimted $ 15 Billion USD!! I'm totally left behind in this social networking thingy. I don't have or even intend to open a facebook account.

Then there's YouTube, Digg, MySpace which offers users to be part of the internet, instead of being monopolised by some Silicon Valley geeks.

But it's just not strictly business. Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist.org, offering free online ads was quoted as saying, "once you make enough money to live comfortably and provide for your future, what's the point of having more?". He and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia shared the idea of constructing non profitable websites to help people instead of generating money.

According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, this is what he envisioned out of the internet. A platform on which the user will be able to contribute, rather than just take. Now, you could become a businessman on the internet. You could socialize, find friends anywhere in the world and share ideas. Bloggers are becoming resident journalists, enabling everyone and anyone to become writers. Heck, you could even post your videos on youtube, no matter how stupid it is!

The result of the recent general election in Malaysia shows how significant the internet is for the public in choosing information. Barisan Nasional's loss is due to their approach on mainstream media, i.e : newspapers, television while Pakatan Rakyat's gain was largely due to the raw power of internet. Public are bored of the one sided reports on the newspapers and television, and looked for alternative information in order to vote.

Power to the people. Now, maybe someday we will look back to history and we might say internet was a significant invention. Perhaps a downfall of a government attributed to the internet? Now that's a real revolution.

The digital age is revolutionising our world. The future is here. Are you ready to indulge?

PS : Post is based on the documentary download : history of the internet, a Discovery Channel Special. I have it in my hard disk. Highly recommended. You could download it illegally through the internet.


Jatdin said...

salam. weh afiq, sejak ko ada blog ni slalu gk aku mengikuti post2 ko.. cambest gak eh! hehe.. keep up the good posts! :D

QifA said...

oit Jatdin! Thanx for the comment! I'll keep up the good work!

Rush said...

perghh..akademik gila post hg..kagum2..mengalahkan biro akademik...kah2...

QifA said...

haha..akademik sgt ka?...aku tone down sikit ke-akademik-iannya utk post-post akan datang.

nge said...

Farking tooooooo long for me.... Aku xmampu a afiq bace post2 panjang camni... Aku suke yg pendek2.. Ho3

QifA said...

haha..baik kau tgk documentary tu je nge..bes gak