The first information services were one-way text services called teletext. Britain's CEEFAX was an early version that was transmitted over the air. France started MiniTel, a large scale interactive text service. Although America pioneered computer networking, information services were not quick to start up. In the early 1980s, The Source and Compuserve became early information service providers. They were joined by Prodigy and America Online toward the end of the 1980s.
By the 1984, a new generation of computers made graphics display a greater priority. AOL and Prodigy adopted graphics interfaces that attracted many home computer users. But, high interconnect long distance charges and hourly rates prevented many from using information service providers frequently. As long distance rates reduced, more and more users connected to the network.
The Internet is owned by no one organization. Several organizations, such as the Internet Society and the World Wide Web Consortium, set guidelines for the its standards and its operation. When a Universal Resource Locator address is typed into a browser, a request for information is made from the gateway to the server housing the information. Domain names help to provide pathways for information.
Mircosoft Explorer and Netscape Navigator are the most popular browsers available for the World Wide Web. Web sites that provide many customer services are called Portals. They may be search engine sites, virtual communities or information/shopping sites. Portals frequently contain banners or other forms of advertising. While ad revenues have risen dramatically over the past few years, most companies providing content on the World Wide Web are still looking for the best way to pack content and advertising for consumers to use.
In 2001, the courts ruled that Napster violated the copyright laws and told the service to comply with the law or stop the service. New peer-to-peer sharing networks have taken Napster's place, but the copyright issue is unresolved. Also in 2001, a Copyright Office decision required broadcasters to pay separate copyright fees for music streamed over the net.
New Media is the term applied to the convergence of audio/video technologies with the World Wide Web. Some media companies use the Web as an ancillary means of reaching target audiences. Technological obstacles to the transmission of quality video over the Web include problems of downloading large video files quickly. Cable and DSL modems may provide for much faster download times.
Web users report a reduction in over-the-air radio listening, however, Web radio listenership is on the rise. Studies point to the fact that millions of Americans turn to the Web for breaking news stories. MSNTV is a new service that allows users to display the World Wide Web on their television screens..
As the World Wide Web expands, so too do job possibilities. Jobs in desktop publishing and graphic arts are in demand as are positions in computer programming, site management, and marketing. Because the Internet continues to grow rapidly, job prospects continue to look bright.