The internet was often dismissed as a “passing fad” in its early days.
While it did have its advocates and evangelists, even some of the brightest minds of the time thought it would be little more than a bubble. Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet (the technology used to connect computers in a network, used to this day) thought it would be gone by 1996.
The internet did, in turn, prove them wrong: it has not only survived the infamous dot-com bubble (a period of rapid growth and collapse of internet-based company shares between 1995 and 2001) but it has spread to pretty much every corner of our everyday lives.
Like all other revolutionary inventions, the internet has changed our lives in some very important ways since it stepped into the “real world” in 1991.
For ages, the news was printed on cheap pulp paper and sold everywhere from kiosks to the tobacconist and vending machines on street corners. Then the internet was invented, and things changed dramatically.
In 1968, decades before the web, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke have imagined a futuristic “newspaper” a lot like an iPad is today that the astronauts use to keep up with the news on their way to Jupiter in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. They were a bit optimistic when it came to tablet computers but not about the news: since the mid-1990s, an ever-increasing number of readers have transitioned from the printed word to a faster, more colourful, and much more dynamic way of reading the news online.
Rupert Murdoch, the founder of the NewsCorp media empire, spoke of the profits from his business as “rivers of gold”… but at one point in the early 2000s, he saw these rivers dry up under the pressure of online news. In the 2000s, several major newspapers in the US ceased publication, and many others have seriously reduced the number of copies. So much so that even the price of pulp – the low-quality paper newspapers were routinely printed on – has become much more expensive than ever before.
The internet will not stop its offensive against traditional news channels. The up-to-the-minute news coverage, live blogging, and social media is not something the printed press, or broadcast television for that matter, can compete with.
Casinos have been around for longer than many would expect it. The first organized gambling venue – Il Ridotto in Venice’s Palazzo Dandolo – was opened in 1638 by the Venetian government, and handled gambling in the city-state for more than 130 years. Since then, organized gambling was in and out of Europe, navigating between regulation and prohibitions, until it found its most famous home in Las Vegas in 1931.
The advent of the internet has brought serious change to the world of gambling as well. The first online casinos were launched in the mid-1990s thanks to two brothers from Dublin who decided that their brand new, secure online payment solution will be put to best use in the world of gambling.
The online gambling market was largely unregulated in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which led to the emergence of many bad apples but also legitimate venues like the JackpotCity online casino. Over the years, the regulations have caught up with the industry, the bad apples were dropped out, and the online gambling ecosystem has become a well-regulated business present in most countries across Europe.
Unlike in the case of newspapers, though, online casinos didn’t push their traditional counterparts out of the market. The online experience offered by JackpotCity is no match for the lights, shows, restaurants, and sporting events of Sin City. Instead, it offers a more casual, playful experience that people with a passion for the thrill of gambling can enjoy without having to spend a fortune on airfare, hotels, and fancy restaurants.
For ages, broadcast television ruled home entertainment. Later, videotape was introduced into our living rooms, followed by various optical disk formats. Next, home entertainment transitioned to digital – today, a few buttons pushed on the remote control or perhaps a voice command can beam high-definition movies, TV shows, documentaries, and reality shows on our big screens, smartphones, and tablets.
Although home entertainment has evolved fast in the last decade, it didn’t have the power to take on Hollywood. Not that it didn’t try: Netflix, the streaming juggernaut, spends billions each year on fresh content. But now, it may have received help from a very unpleasant phenomenon: a global pandemic.
2020 is a highly abnormal year for Hollywood. This year, only a handful of high-profile productions have made it into movie theatres – most others have suffered painful delays that hurt both the studios’ bottom lines and the fans’ feelings. Some studios were, in turn, impatient while waiting for movie theatres to reopen, inadvertently proving that the internet is a viable distribution channel for blockbusters, too. Of course, the theatres weren’t happy about the movies going online, but that’s a story for another time.
DreamWorks Animation’s family musical comedy “Trolls World Tour” was the first to hit VOD instead of the silver screen – and it was pretty successful. Since then, other movies planned to be released in theatres have taken the digital path: the “mind-bending” psychological thriller “Antebellum”, Disney’s live-action “Mulan”, the World War II drama “Greyhound”, the latest Scooby-Doo adventure “Scoob!”, and many others have hit streaming services this year, skipping theatrical releases altogether.
The internet has become one of the most important things in our everyday lives. Aside from bringing up-to-the-minute news and every form of entertainment we can imagine right to our fingertips, it also helps us with chores ranging from paying our bills to shopping and ordering food. No wonder it is considered an invention as important as the wheel, the printing press, and the camera.