Do you know the history of the Web?

By: Maria Trimarchi
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

In 1995, as many as 42 percent of adults in the U.S. hadn't heard of the Internet. Another 21 percent knew it had something to do with computers, but not much more than that. Just 14 percent of adults were online that year, mostly with snail-paced, dial-up modem connections. How times have changed. See how much you know about the history of the Web.

By the summer of 2014, how many people were using the Internet around the world?

As many as three billion people were using the Internet around the world by the summer of 2014.

Which is not one of the first webcams?

These webcams were all among the first, all introduced in the 1990s and each still working today: Since it went online in 1994, the Amazing Fishcam has been streaming the activity in the fishtank at what, at first, was yet-unknown Netscape offices. FogCam! also went online in 1994 and offers a view of the Quad and the C. Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University. Keeping Up With the Kattarshians, though, is a pretty new stream.

What was the first successful online payment system?

Peter Thiel cofounded the money transaction service in 1998, which was sold to eBay four years later. In 2015, PayPal was spun-off from eBay as an independent entity.

When did the dot-com bubble burst?

The heady days of the dot-com bubble came to an end after the technology-filled NASDAQ Composite Index peaked at 5,048.62, on March 10, 2000.

On May 3, 1978, 393 people received what's now considered the first type of what unsolicited email?

Back on May 3, 1978, Gary Thuerk sent a single mass email to advertise Digital Equipment Corporation's new T-series of VAX systems, instead of the traditional way of sending one at a time, making it the first email spam.

Ray Tomlinson, who gave us the "@" symbol in our email addresses, is known as the father of what?

Before the Internet even existed, back in the days of Internet precursor ARPANET in 1971, computer programmer Ray Tomlinson made it possible for us to email each other. And that's why he's called the father of email.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTP, which is the acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is, essentially, a set of rules used to send information from your Web browser to the website you're going to. Information is sent in plain text, which is why submitting sensitive information such as your credit card number can be risky. Because it encrypts information, Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPS, is the secure version.

What was Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's first tweet?

On March 21, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack (@jack) Dorsey tweeted, "just setting up my twttr." In fact, many first tweets were that, as back then Twttr, as it was called, automatically tweeted "just setting up my twttr" from all new accounts. Dorsey's second tweet was, "inviting coworkers."

Is the Web (short for World Wide Web) the same thing as the Internet?

According to a Pew survey in 2014, roughly one-quarter of people who go online don't know that the Web and the Internet aren't the same thing.

Who invented the Web?

It was 1989 when a computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN, invented the World Wide Web (WWW). His idea was to make sharing information and ideas easier among scientists around the world.

Which site gave us the first photostream, instead of photo albums?

Flickr was created by husband-and-wife team Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake in 2004. It was the first online photo sharing and streaming site, instead of forcing photo sharers to use albums. In 2005 Flickr was acquired by Yahoo!.

What made Web 2.0 different than the first websites?

Web 2.0 is known as the "social" Internet. It gave users more of what they said they wanted: more interactive sites, more social interaction and an overall more personal experience.

Is it true or false that FTP, File Transfer Protocol, was (and is) used to transfer files between two computers?

File sharing wasn't always as easy as it is today, and there weren't so many ways of transferring files. For decades FTP protocol was required for sending or requesting data.

What pizza chain completed what is likely the first transaction on the Web?

In the summer of 1994, Pizza Hut took what is considered to be the first transaction on the Web: a large pepperoni, mushroom and extra cheese pizza.

"URL" is an acronym. What does it stand for?

A "URL," which is the unique identifier for things on the Web, is an acronym for "Uniform Resource Locator." It's a Web address.

On September 19, 1982, computer scientist Scott Fahlman wrote in an email, "I propose the following character sequence for joke markers." What did Scott invent?

In this message from 1982, Scott Fahlman suggests the very first emoticon for messages that should be read as humorous; the smiley.

When was the "dot-com" boom?

The "dot-com" boom refers to the period of time at the end of the 1990s when there was a speculative and historic investment bubble around Internet companies.

What was the very first item sold on eBay?

Back in 1995 when it was still called AuctionWeb, a man who collected broken laser pointers bought a broken laser pointer for $14.83. True story.

What is HTML?

Hypertext Markup Language, known as HTML, is the formatting language -- markup -- used to make Web pages.

The first text-based Web browser shared a name with which wild cat?

The first text-based Web browser, Lynx, was developed at the Distributed Computing Group within the Academic Computing Services of the University of Kansas in 1992. It was available on Unix and DOS.

What was the first Internet search engine?

In 1990, Alan Emtage, at McGill University, wrote the code that would become the search engine industry. Archie, as the first was called, along with WAIS and Gopher search engines which followed in 1991 all predate the World Wide Web. At this time, search engines indexed information on the Internet and served it up kind of like a directory listing of page titles.

What was the first Web search engine?

Lycos was developed as a project to gauge the size of the Web, back in 1994 at Carnegie Mellon University. Yahoo! was founded in 1994 and Altavista in 1995. Google didn't debut until 1998. It was WebCrawler that came first, just barely, in 1994.

What browser was the first to popularize "surfing the Web"?

Mosaic wasn't just an early graphical browser, it was the first compatible with Windows, Mac and Unix operating systems. It was created by Marc Andreessen and a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and introduced in March 1993. Mosaic later became Netscape Navigator.

Which two men are known as the "fathers" of the Internet?

In the 1970s the number of different network methods was growing. Together, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn created the TCP/IP suite of communication protocols -- which is the language computers use to talk to each other among networks.

Which was the first peer-to-peer file sharing system, introduced in 1999?

Shawn Fanning's music-sharing site Napster was the first peer-to-peer file sharing system, introduced in 1999. In 2001, at its peak, the service had more than 25 million users. (Interestingly, 78 percent of those users didn't think downloading free music files to their hard drives was stealing.) BitTorrent, Kazaa and Limewire didn't debut until 2001.

When did the first web page go live?

The very first web page,, was created at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research Organisation) and uploaded in 1990. Since then, it's been restored and can be found at

Today we take it for granted our mobile phones are connected to the Internet. What was the first phone with a Web browser?

The first smartphone with Internet connectivity and a Web browser was the Nokia 9000 Communicator, which was introduced in 1996.

In 1988, Robert Morris, a grad student at Cornell, released the first what onto the Internet?

In November 1998 Robert Morris, a Cornell University computer science grad student, unleashed what is considered the first Internet "worm" -- and subsequently became the first person to be tried and convicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. Known as the Morris worm, the malware affected one-tenth of all computers connected to the Internet at that time. Today, Morris is a professor at MIT.

Today there are more than 326 million domain names registered, worldwide. What was the first domain name ever registered?

The very first domain name to be registered was, by the Symbolics Computer Corporation in Massachusetts, on March 15, 1985. And did you know that until 1995, you could register a domain name for free? Additionally, the first university to register its domain name was the University of California, Berkeley, with

The first online banner ad promoted seven art museums and was sponsored by AT&T. What website did it run on?

Don't like banner ads? Joe McCambley was the first to run one online. It was in October 1994 and it ran on the travel website.

YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim posted the first video to the site at what zoo?

YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the video service's very first video on April 23, 2005. The video at the San Diego Zoo has since been watched more than 10 million times.

What kitchen appliance did the students and academics at Cambridge keep an eye on with the world's first webcam?

The Trojan Room coffee pot webcam watched the coffee pot in, you guessed it, the Trojan Room. Known as the very first webcam -- set up in the early '90s in the old Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, England -- it gave people a way of checking if the coffee pot was full or empty before going for a refill. It was primitive: a 129×129 pixel grayscale image of the coffee pot, at one frame per second. The coffee pot cam has, though, since been retired. By 1996, the coffee pot cam had one million hits. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the coffee pot eventually sold for more than $4000 -- online, of course.

Which country is the world's first to allow Internet voting?

In the March 2007 parliamentary election, Estonia became the first country to allow Internet voting.

The first pop-up ad popped up on which website in 1997?

The original pop-up ad was created by Ethan Zuckerman and first appeared on the site in 1997. In 2014 Zuckerman apologized for putting such a terrible thing into the world. As he explained, it was created as a way to separate an advertiser's brand from a user's page content. "Our intentions were good," he said.

Which Web pioneer was also the first to upload a photo to the Web?

The first photo uploaded to the Web was done so by the man who invented it, Tim Berners-Lee. In July 1992, Berners Lee posted a photo on behalf of an all-female parody comedy band, Les Horrible Cernettes, that featured his colleagues at CERN.

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