The exponential growth of the internet

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ARPANET, the worlds first computer network was conceived by the American Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This network originally linked up to a handful of Universities and organisations, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and technology company BBN.


The world's first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson, an employee at BBN, who took the decision to use the @ symbol to separate his username from the name of his computer.

6th August 1991

The World Wide Web was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who was at the time working at the European particle physics laboratory in Cern, Switzerland.

Within 4 years

By 1995 there were 6 million users online.

Within 14 years

By 2005, users of the web were estimated to have reached 
1 billion.


Global Internet users (2012)

Asia - 1 billion

Europe - 500.7 million 

North America - 273 million

L America/Carib. - 235.8 million

Africa - 139.8 million

Middle East - 77 million

Oceania/Australia - 23.9 million

Total 2.267 billion

Source: Internet World Stats, January 2012


Users in China alone are estimated to represent 25% of global internet users.

Source: International Telecommunication Union (ITU)  

Internet usage by country

Global internet usage


Growth in Internet users 2000-2011

Africa - 2,988%

Middle East - 2,244%

L America/Carib. - 1,205%

Asia - 789%

Europe - 376%

Oceania/Australia - 214%

North America - 152%

Average world growth 528%

Source: Internet World Stats, January 2012

One third of humanity

By 2011, the world population had reached 7 billion people, almost a third of whom (2.2 billion) are now estimated to be connected to the internet. Between 2006-2011, internet users in the developing world overtook users in developed countries. 


Moore's Law

Moore’s law is a technological trend which states that the number of transistors created in an optimal minimum cost, doubles every 18-20 months. This means that the processing power of computers doubles every 18-20 months or the price of the same processing power halfs. This results in what is known as 'exponential growth'.

It was conceived by Gordon Moore who was in charge of Intel in 1960s. It describes the exponential growth in computing power that enables the average mobile phone to process instructions millions of times faster than the earliest computers. 

In the 1960s computers were extremely large, often the size of rooms and extremely expensive, which meant only large corporations and governments were able to afford them. Today we hold more computing power in the smartphones in our pockets than was conceivable a few decades previous and at a price that allow the mass market to own them.


2,300 transistors

In 1971 there were 2,300 transistors on a single microchip.

2.9 billion transistors

30 years later, in 2011, engineers were able to fit 2.9 billion transistors on each microchip. That is over 1.2 million times as many!

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi computer is just a small green circuit board about the size of a credit card - but it is hoped that it will get thousands of schoolchildren interested in programming. Costing around £25 it was created by a group of British scientists and developers earlier in 2012. It is estimated to have the processing power of a new iPhone 4s. 

 Raspberry Pi computer in action (BBC News)

 Inside Raspberry Pi (Digital Foundry)

Every 60 seconds... 

60 hours

of video uploaded to YouTube
Source: Youtube


emails sent (estimates 80% of which are spam)


searches on google worldwide

Over 370,000

voice calls made on Skype 


‘tweets’ sent out on twitter


iPhone apps downloaded 


images uploaded to flickr 

Source: Saasbuzz


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