A Brief Web Hosting History

Web hosting has evolved since the release of the World Wide Web in 1991. There was a time when web hosting services did not exist, and those who wanted to create a website would need to host their site using a computer or server. Today we have the option of using a web hosting service. These web hosting services allow developers to rent server space to make the website available to the end user. With over a billion websites on the web today, we pose the question, what is the history of web hosting?

A Brief on the World Wide Web History

Before we dive into the history, let’s take a brief look at the creation of the world wide web. Tim Berners-Lee, also known as TimBL, invented the world wide web, and it launched in 1991. Tim grew up in a household of computer scientists. He’s the creator of the first web browser computer program, developed in 1990. In the beginning, the internet was mainly used for universities, government research, and sometimes the military. Tim worked for CERN, located in Switzerland, while he developed the first web browser. The browser was later released to the general public on the internet in August 1991. Thanks to Tim, we have access to the web, and all of the information within it. The World Wide Web may be one of the best inventions to date, and without web hosting companies providing their services, there would not be nearly as many websites on the web.

Web Hosting Timeline

Website hosting companies started emerging in 1995. Finally, anyone who wanted a website could have it hosted online for the world to see. Three companies began providing free website hosting: GeoCities, Angelfire, and Tripod. Free? How? They made money from advertising. One year later, in 1996, both Bluehost, and Hostmonster entered the new web hosting market.

  • Yahoo came along and bought GeoCities in 1999.
  • Lycos bought both Angelfire and Tripod in 1998.

Storage space was quite limited in the beginning. It ranged from 35KB to 2MB depending on the company. For shared hosting, the average storage space was 153MB.

By this time, new web hosting services started popping up everywhere.

Hostgator started out in a dorm room in Florida in 2002. Hostgator worked with just three servers!

At that time, in 2002, there were only about 39 million websites on the web.

From the launch of web hosting in 1995 to 2002 some of the largest websites came online:

 

Year Launched
Website
1994Yahoo
1994whitehouse.gov
1995Amazon
1995msn.com
1995Craigslist
1995nytimes.com
1996Google
1996dell.com
1997news.bbc.co.uk

 

All of these sites are still up and running today, and may have used some of the free web hosting services provided at the time. Companies were starting to realize the potential of the internet. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that having a website started to become a standard for businesses.

In the early stages of web hosting, the services were expensive, and not that user friendly.

Let’s put the growth of web users into perception. In the beginning, 1995, there was already 16 million users. Moving ahead to 1998, that number increased to 147 million users. In 2000, there were 361 million users. Continuing on to 2003, there were 719 million users. It’s obvious to see the exponential growth of the number of users.

The Significance of Web Hosting History

The history of web hosting shows the industry is in its youth, and the current exponential growth. The web hosting market has grown significantly since the service was introduced in 1995. Since then, there are countless different web hosting providers around, plus the different types of web hosting you can choose from. One could only imagine the difficulties of hosting a website from your own server or computer back when there were no web hosting services. Web designers and developers now have many options of web hosting and companies to choose from.

Judging from the first 20 years, web hosting can change drastically from the number of companies to the type of hosting. The options now include shared hosting, dedicated hosting, co-located hosting, and even SSL certificates to host a more secure website. Imagine how the World Wide Web will change, along with the hosting services. The future of web hosting looks promising!

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