RT Cunningham


25 Years on the World Wide Web with Many More Years to Go

world wide web I first logged onto the world wide web with my internet service provider, “Internet Direct”, in 1994. I can’t tell you exactly what day it was 25 years ago. My connection was a dial-up modem, Windows 3.1 and an add-on software package. Windows, by itself, wasn’t capable of networking anything.

Everything I’m about to tell you is drawn from memory. I don’t have records of anything I did back then. I was still running a Commodore BBS at the time (1992-1998) on a separate telephone line at my apartment and then at my house in Phoenix, Arizona. The same house I sold in 2006, by the way.

In the Beginning on the World Wide Web

Although Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web in 1989 and the first web browser went public in 1991, most people didn’t know about the web or how to get online until later on. That’s why it took me until 1994. The internet was older, starting as ARPANET in 1969. There were only 15 sites connected by the end of 1971.

It was rough. The hardest part, for me, was learning what web pages actually were. I discovered they were nothing more than text files formatted in specific ways. I’ve been designing web pages somewhere ever since. The first web browser I used was the first version of Netscape Navigator. It was the forerunner of today’s Firefox.

There were internet protocols I understood and some I didn’t. The ones I didn’t understand didn’t have any effect on my daily routines. There just wasn’t enough time in the day to learn everything because I was in the military at the time. I remember “archie”, “gopher” and “finger” but I still can’t tell you what they were used for. I remember FTP and HTTP, obviously.

I used FTP to upload web pages and I used HTTP (which we still use today) to view those pages on the world wide web. I’ve made a lot of money over the years because of what I learned. I’m 100 percent self-taught.

Earning Money on the World Wide Web

I never intended to earn money on the world wide web. At least not in the beginning. It was a hobby I initially developed to replace my BBS hobby. I opened my Google AdSense account in 2005, for a long defunct website. For the life of me, I can’t remember its name. Not even the domain name. By the time I reached the Philippines in 2006, I had made a grand total of $9.07.

I received my first payment sometime in 2007. It took months for me to reach the required $100 threshold. I didn’t know how to generate web traffic at all. That all changed for the better until the end of 2011. My online income rose to more than $1000 a month and then went steadily downhill after Google started cracking down on web spam. And I didn’t have anything to do with web spam. I was collateral damage, as were many others.

According to my Google AdSense account, I’ve made over $34,000 from Google alone. I had accounts with other services and I can’t tell you how much I made from them. I honestly don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. I don’t make very much these days. I’m lucky if I make $20 a month. There are many reasons why and I don’t want to get into it.

Many More Years to Go

Most of my uncles lived to be old, as did my father. My grandmother, my father’s mother, made it to 90. Most of my father’s brothers and sisters lived into their eighties. My father came from a huge family. My mother didn’t. Even though my oldest brother recently died at the age of 66, I can expect to live much longer. I’m the only child of nine to spend 20 years working out in the Marine Corps.

I intend to spend the rest of my life working on something or other web-related. Even if I don’t earn much money for what I’m doing, the world wide web keeps my mind active. I don’t spend as much time online as I did years ago and that’s okay. Other things, like grandchildren and nieces and nephews (and their children) tend to distract me.

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By RT Cunningham
February 13, 2019