Three decades of the web in Australia: How Australians shaped the early internet

Three decades of the web in Australia: How Australians shaped the early internet

The internet is maturing as it reaches its 30th anniversary. While its origins can be traced back to the 1960s, the internet as we know it today became popular in the 1990s, with 99% of Australians now using it for various purposes such as communication, information retrieval, and entertainment.

This year marks several significant milestones in the internet’s history. Mosaic, the first browser that integrated text and graphics, was released 30 years ago, paving the way for the web as we know it. Google is now 25, Wikipedia turned 21 last year, and Facebook will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary. However, a lesser-known milestone is the emergence of the first Australian websites 30 years ago.

The web made the internet accessible to the general public by introducing hyperlinks for easy navigation and relatively simple HTML code for newcomers to learn. In October 1992, the first Australian web server was installed by David Green at the Australian National University, launching Australia’s first information service on the World Wide Web.

During the early 1990s, the Australian internet primarily served as a research network led by universities. However, in 1994, private companies were allowed to purchase network capacity, leading to a rapid increase in the number of Australian websites. By the end of the decade, there were hundreds of thousands of websites in Australia.

As everyday Australians began to go online, a diverse range of websites emerged, created by students, activists, artists, and fans. These websites took advantage of the web’s capabilities and contributed to a flourishing online culture. Additionally, political parties, government institutions, and media organizations also established their presence online during this time.

The internet also became a lucrative business, with internet entrepreneurs emerging in Australia. However, concerns about the state of the internet, such as the power of digital platforms and the spread of disinformation, remind us to critically examine the conditions that shaped internet use. Understanding the history of the internet is crucial, and efforts by archiving organizations like the Internet Archive and the National Library of Australia allow us to reflect on how much has changed and the individuals who played a role in transforming the internet into a mass medium.

In conclusion, as the internet reaches its 30th anniversary, it is important to reflect on its evolution and consider how we can shape it to align with our desired goals.