2019: A milestone year for technology
2019 was a year of the milestone that had a significant impact on your life, but most likely passed you by. Iconic anniversaries for the tech industry; things we now take for granted even though they have completely transformed the way we live.
It’s been a big year for connectivity. The 29th October was the 50th anniversary of the Internet. Half a century ago, in 1969, the first message was sent over the ARPANET, a pre-cursor to the Internet, which initially connected a handful of university and government computers in the US. The ability to network devices paved the way for the largest application on the Internet: the World Wide Web (WWW), which celebrated its 30th birthday in March with marked calls from Sir Tim Berners-Lee to ensure it stayed true to its purpose.
Now, with four billion people around the world online, it’s hard to compute the impact these creations have had on society. From powering entire industries such as ecommerce, online banking and the gig economy, to changing the way we interact on a social and professional level. You can compare the transformative impact of the Internet to another technology that has enabled greater connectivity. In 1969 the jumbo jet made its first test flight. The jet did for the physical world what the Internet has done for information – it’s made it vastly more accessible. The world has become smaller thanks to the jet, democratising air travel and helping to make it affordable.
Not only did we start to conquer distances on Earth in 1969, underpinning a trend towards mass globalisation, we also went into the unknown. Few things compare in human history with the significance of the Apollo 11 mission and the first lunar landings. This anniversary was one we at Cisco helped celebrate, connecting some of the key figures involved in that mission via Webex for a special panel discussion. It’s powerful to look back and see what an influential year in history 1969 was. While arguably no standalone year has compared since, the pace of change is now much faster.
The world’s greatest educational resource
Closely related to its ability to connect human beings with the world’s information, new places and experiences, one of the Internet’s most profound impacts has been on education.
The Internet has not only introduced new ways of learning, but new things that need to be learnt. In a year full of technological anniversaries, 2019 also marked 50 years of Sesame Street, a show that not only will those of us over thirty likely remember, but that had a sizeable impact on early childhood education.
Encouraging and inspiring young people is something we’ve also been focused on at Cisco. Our Networking Academy programme has been running for over 20 years, and we’ve trained over 10 million students in 180 countries. In the UK, as part of the Cisco Networking Academy, we provide support for teachers to teach basic cybersecurity, Linux, Python, C and C++, and give the kind of grounding that can serve as a springboard to the careers most in demand.
A new era of communications
According to Cisco research, seven in ten people said their number one thing that the Internet has made possible is the ability to stay in touch with friends and family. Connectivity is already something most people can’t live without. Over a third of the people we spoke to said they can’t imagine being able to function in their personal lives without the Internet.
Cisco celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2019, and in that time, we’ve gone from creating the networks we all depend on, to tackling the security challenges of the future. In 2019, we ushered in a new era of wireless connectivity, fitting as we marked 20 years of Wi-Fi – a technology that allows us to roam freely while still connected.
Wi-Fi has truly made the online world accessible. Dovetailing with 5G, the latest standards in Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6 and new models that allow you to seamlessly roam will allow invisible connectivity to the internet, enabling us to stay connected from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. We estimate that there will be 12.3 billion mobile-connected devices by 2022, with the average smartphone set to generate 11GB of mobile traffic per month. That kind of staggering growth will require new ways of thinking about how we manage, optimise and secure networks.
We’ve come a long way in just a year, let alone the last 50. It’s exciting to consider where emerging technologies might take us. And as the Internet’s optimists, we believe that connectivity can continue to be a positive force for people all over the world.