The History of The Internet in Canada

The History of The Internet in Canada - Comwave
date img Dec 19 2022 auther iconBen Fishbein

The internet is perhaps the single most important technology invented in the last century. Upon its advent, connectivity as we knew it changed rapidly. Suddenly, we had new ways of communicating that didn’t involve traditional phones, much less paper and mail. With the internet, we’re now able to communicate instantly across the world, find information, work, and even play.

Thanks to a global network of computers mediated by a method of exchange called protocols, people from all over the world can instantly stay connected for less than long-distance calling, and faster than traditional mail or even more recent technologies like fax machines.

Since we live in the digital age, it’s easy to take the internet for granted, almost as if it has always been around. It’s become a basic need and human right, so much so that internet access was declared as such by the United Nations in 2016. But as we rely on the internet 24/7, do we know its history and how it was invented?

In this article, we’ll go over the history of the internet in Canada. Find out its early beginnings, all the way to major benefits we can’t live without, like fast and cheap Comwave internet.

What is the internet?

Before we start, let’s have a little refresher on what the internet is. With the prevalence of the internet in all aspects of life, most of us go through our daily activities without really thinking about what it is and how it works.

Essentially, the internet is a global network of computers with data constantly shared among them. Today, various devices such as smartphones, laptops, desktop computers, tablets, and gaming consoles, as well as voice assistants and smart appliances which are networked physical objects known as the Internet of Things, all count as “computers” which can connect to the internet.

How does the internet work?

The Web is an application of the internet, and from here, other internet-based apps have been developed over decades, most prominently for mobile. Through these interfaces, you can request content, which is then routed by your modem to your internet service provider. In turn, your ISP communicates with other servers and sends back the data to your device.

The History of the Internet

Now that you know how it works, it’s time to break down this ingenious technology by era. How did the internet as we know it today come to exist? Let’s find out.

The Origins of the Internet

Like many technologies, we now enjoy—such as the GPS—the internet was first designed for the US military. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed the early framework of the internet beginning in 1969. 

By 1973, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn started working on new networking standards for the ARPANET, known as TCP/IP. ARPANET officially switched to this new protocol on January 1, 1983. The TCP/IP protocol forms the foundation of the modern internet.

The Internet Arrives in Canada

Following the earlier developments, the internet officially became operational in Canada in 1985. During this time, Canadian universities were able to access a shared network called NetWorth. However, it would take another four years before the internet as we know it today would be developed—and the next decade for crucial applications like search to be developed.

The Development of the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is the first foray into the modern internet as we now know it. In 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web (www) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN. At the time, 100,000 internet hosts were connected. In addition, he also developed the HTTP protocol, which is still used in websites.

The ‘90s: The Modern Internet

It took over two decades since the development of ARPANET for the modern internet to take off. In that time, a lot of other crucial developments happened, including the invention of email by Ray Tomlinson, which remains a vital communication channel, largely made possible by the use of the “@” symbol to identify addresses.

By the 1990s, the web grew more popular, upon which other applications like search engines were built. For instance, the birth of the world’s first search engine took place right here in Canada. It was developed at McGill University by graduate student and systems administrator Alan Emtage.

In 1995, the dot com boom happened, with government, businesses, and even individual users started getting online. The Canadian Government was a pioneer in this area, being one of the first governments to launch a website, canada.gc.ca. Around this time, Microsoft also launched the first version of its iconic browser Internet Explorer. Fast-forward four years later in 1999, internet use further expanded, particularly with the rise of music sharing website Napster and peer-to-peer sharing. 

The 2000s: Rapid Expansion of the Internet

By the 2000’s, the internet has become a staple at work and home, with more and more people getting computers, game consoles, phones, and tablets that connect to the internet. 

The launch of the first iPhone in 2007—one of the first widely used and iconic smartphones that would kickstart a new era of mobile, coincided with the rise of instant messaging and social media, most notably followed by the birth of Facebook and its acquisition of Instagram, Twitter, and many other platforms. Similarly, the launch of YouTube in 2005 and its acquisition by Google would also forever change video and viewing habits in the digital age.

The convergence of the internet and mobile devices signalled a new era of connectivity: increased accessibility and portability, so we’re all online not just at home, but on the go. By 2013, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) reported that Canadians already use the internet regularly, clocking an average of 45 hours online and leading the world in online video consumption per person. By 2021, 94% of Canadians already had internet access at home.

The Future of High-Speed Internet in Canada

The internet has certainly come a long way since its beginnings over 50 years ago. As we look toward the next 50—making 100 years of online connectivity—it’s clear that the internet isn’t going away, but is even more likely to grow as our needs evolve.

At Comwave, we’ve been around for just a little less than half of the internet’s lifespan. As an early adopter in Canada, we’ve seen how much the internet has changed, especially its rapid expansion and every Canadian’s changing connectivity needs in response. 

This is why we’re committed to constantly rethinking how we’re keeping you connected today and beyond. Our promise has always been fast and cheap internet, even with the latest developments like fibre internet. That’s our goal—to constantly push the boundaries of high-speed internet and make sure you’re always connected.

Looking towards the future of the internet in Canada? Step into next-generation connectivity with fast and cheap fibre internet from Comwave.

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