In less than a century the invention of the computer and subsequent internet has led to some significant changes that are responsible for moving society into the digital age. Linge (2013, p.45) defines the birth of the digital revolution as the moment in time when information began to processed using a binary system and processed by electronic means. Early in the 20th Century computers had been in use for businesses and for researchers but it wasn’t really until the 1970’s that they became available to the average person (Swalwell 2012, p.62). The development of computer software made this transition easier as you were not required to learn code to use the technology. Fast forward to 1990 and the World Wide Web brought the internet to the masses but it wasn’t without its challenges (Linge 2013, p. 51).
The computer inspired users to consider transmitting data via shared networks or “packet switching” resulting in what we call the internet (Linge 2013, p. 45). When computer sales took off as a result of domestic use there was a demand for digital communications putting stress on the telephone networks. The telephone network was designed for a connection for human voices and so the challenge was to convert the telephones lines so that the computers could connect to the network using existing telephone infrastructure (Linge 2013, p.50). The solution was the modem. On the 25th July 1973 the first packet data was sent in California via the ARPAnet and in 1990 Tim Berners Lee created the first web browser (Linge 2013, p. 51, p.56). Just like the development of software for computer navigation, the web browser helped users to navigate the World Wide Web paving the ways for future aggregators like Google and Yahoo to develop internet search engines that have become part of the social fabric of western cultures.
Understandably, now that computers were commonplace the rollout of the internet soon followed. ADSL was installed and made available to the mass market from early 2000’s but as the internet continued to revolutionise the world, infrastructure needed to keep up with the current and future demands of society (Linge 2013, p. 57). In 2012, high speed internet was the new normal through a combination of optical fibre and coaxial cables. High speed internet has become expected and access to the internet is taken for granted.
In Australia, it seems that high speed internet is a concept that citizens are still dreaming of. The federal government announced the NBN (National Broadband Network) in 2012 with the goal to connect 93% of premises to optical fibre and the remaining 7% with fixed wireless and satellite connections by 2020 (ABC News 2012; NBN Co 2017).
ABC News 2012, ‘Government announces NBN rollout plan’ viewed 30 July 2017 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-29/government-announces-nbn-rollout-timeline/3919992?pfmredir=sm>
Linge, N 2013, ‘The archaeology of communication’, Industrial Archaeology Review, vol. 35, no.1, p. 45-64, viewed 28 July 2017, via Routledge database
National Broadband Network 2017, ‘Evolution of the Internet’ viewed 30 July 2017,<http://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/evolution-of-internet.html>
Swalwell, M 2012, ‘Questions about the usefulness of microcomputers in 1980’s Australia’, Media International Australia, vol. 143, p. 63-77, viewed 28 July 2017, via Expanded Academic database