21/05/2012 04:39 BST | Updated 05/06/2012 13:18 BST

100 Years of Innovation: The Internet

Think about how much time you spend on the internet every day. You make up one third of the world’s population that now browses the web, be it for work, shopping, social media, news or entertainment.

From 2000 to 2009, the number of global internet users rose from 394 million to 1.858 billion and today there are one billion Google searches every day, 300m internet users reading blogs and two billion videos viewed daily on YouTube. The average user spends 15 hours a week online.

So where did it all begin? It’s hard to imagine, but the origins of the internet go back to the early 1960s. A project known as ARPANET was developed by the US Department of Defense to connect networks across research labs and universities through ‘packet switching’ – communicating data through blocks.

Gradually growing over the years with new sites, a world-wide internetwork was introduced which enabled much higher levels of access.

Then, the introduction of the internet protocol suite – known as TCP/IP – expanded how this data could be accessed and sent across the network when the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) invested heavily to promote research and education.

The original idea behind the early internet developed by NSFNET was to keep the networks purely educational and not-for-profit, but once the commercial potential was realised in what was effectively a worldwide network enabling easy and quick communication, the walled garden of the NSFNET could not last. As a result, in 1995, the commercial restrictions governed by NSFNET were relieved and global networks started to tap into to TCP/IP connections, thus creating the ‘networks of networks’ that formed the foundations of what we have now.

The introduction of an email program in 1975 was a seminal progression in the history of the internet, along with the World Wide Web. It implemented the new language of HTML in 1993 and allowed users to use the internet for much more than just data processing; it opened up the possibility of viewing pages on web browsers that had text and multimedia, making possible the explosion of e-commerce onto our screens.

The advent of affordable computers and dial-up connections made sure accessibility was accelerated and the public started to use it as a reference tool, while business took advantage of the huge potential for profitability.

Now, our lives are dominated by the internet. Search engines are the first port of call for everything, while the priorities of companies are to engage with users online at a time when over 77% of UK households have internet access and regularly go online.