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A Timeline Of Website Growth On The Internet: How Many Are There?

There are slightly over 1.73 billion websites at the close of 2019.

Table of Contents

There are slightly over 1.73 billion websites at the close of 2019, but less than 200 million are active. The billion website milestone was reached between September and October 2014, but in 2015, the number dropped to less than a billion as several inactive websites were shut down and deregistered. By March 2016, the sites surpassed 1 billion for the second time, and by December, the figure had risen to about 1.7 billion. Since then, the number has stabilized. Most websites die a few months after registration. Today, the average lifespan is 100 days, 66 days longer than in the late 1990s. Quantifying pieces and pages of the internet gets murky quickly since finding the exact number of links is nearly impossible. Secondly, what dies and lives on the internet depends on the definition of a website; is it by URL or content. A non-resolving URL does not necessarily mean that the content no longer exists; it could have moved to a new location or was simply archived.

Conversely, a resolving website does not imply that the content once hosted still exists. In the twenty years between 1994 and 2014, the number of websites grew from 3,000 to 1 billion, representing a 30 million percent increase. Many of the 1.7 billion sites exist without being seen or visited. In this era of social media and handheld devices, an average person visits less than 100 separate domains in a month. The growth of the internet is also reflected by its usage. In 1999, Google fielded about 3 million search queries daily, a year later, there were 18,000 searches, by 2012, there were 3.5 billion searches, and by 2018 there were 5.4 billion.

A Timeline Of Website Growth On The Internet

Development Of The Internet

Leonad Kleinrock developed the theoretical concept of the World Wide Web known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network ) for the US Military in 1961. Kleinrock worked with Joseph Licklider to create the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) that paved the way for modern-day emails, tweets, and Facebook postings. In 1965 computers in MIT exchanged information using packets, and in 1973 the University College of London and Royal Radar Establishment of Norway connected to ARPANET, and the Internet was born. A year later, Telnet was established as the first commercial Internet Service Provider. Internet Protocol (IP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was established in 1982, paving the way for the development of domain names such as .edu, .mil,.net, .org, and .com. In 1987 the number of users on the internet surpassed 20,000. Within the year, Cisco began selling connection routers. In 1990 Tim Berners-Lee developed the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). To date, HTML continues to impact how we navigate the internet.

Development Of The World Wide Web

1991-1995

Cern developed the World Wide Web in 1991, and http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html became the first website. The World Wide Web allowed people to share and view content on the internet. In 1992 the first video and audio were shared online. Between 1991 and 1993, there was limited usage of the internet, and about 130 websites were developed. In 1994 there was a website explosion, and the number of accessible sites rose to 3000. Within the year, Filo and Yang developed Yahoo! while studying at Stanford University. The website was a directory of other sites and allowed people to access a website without memorizing the exact URL. In 1995 the domain “yahoo.com” was created. By 1996 it was evident that the internet was here to stay. Over 36 million people were connected, and the demand for the service was overwhelming. Netscape and Microsoft were engaged in a heated browser war, while Internet Service Providers struggled to expand their service to reach more people.

1996 - 2000

In 1996, the animation “The Dancing Baby” became the first viral video on the internet. More than a million people viewed it. In the same year, Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings founded Netflix as a sales service that sends DVDs by mail. In 1998 Sergey Brin and Larry Page founded Google while Studying at Stanford. Google changed the way users engaged the internet by introducing a search engine that cataloged websites. By the end of the year, there were 2.4 million websites and over 147 million users. In 1999 Napster was founded. The company allowed peer-to-peer sharing of music online much to the displeasure of the music industry that depended on the sales of records, CDs, and DVDs. By 2000 the number of websites had grown to 17.1 million while internet users had surpassed 361 million. The internet revolutionized communication and information. Some companies closed down physical outlets due to the speculation that online business would be successful. However, this turned out to be a fallacy, giving rise to the infamous Dot-com Bubble Burst.

2001-2010

At the start of the millennium, there were over 360 million internet users. In 2001 music producers file a case against Napster, and a Federal judge rules that the company must stop sharing copyrighted content online. In 2003 the SQL Slammer worm became the first computer virus to spread across the globe. Within the year, Skype, Myspace, and Safari browser debut. By 2004 there are 51.6 million websites and over 800 million users. In February, Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Harvard students establish Facebook. A year later, YouTube and Reddit were founded. In 2006 Twitter is launched, and Jack Dorsey sends out the first tweet. In 2009 the internet marked 40 years, and the number of websites reaches an all-time high of 238 million. In 2010, six years after debut, Facebook users hit 400 million. Within the year, Instagram and Pinterest are launched. At the close of the decade, there were about 106 million websites.

2010 - 2019

The new decade starts with a bang; within the first three months, internet users grew to over 2 billion. Facebook and Twitter fuelled the revolts in the Middle East, and President Barack Obama’s administration disagreed with the proposed Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act that sought to police the internet. By the close of 2014, there were over one billion websites and over 3 billion internet users. A year later, Instagram reached 400 million users, while Twitter registered over 300 million. As of 2019, there were over 1.7 billion websites, but less than 200 million were active. More than half the world can access the internet.

A Timeline Of Website Growth On The Internet: How Many Are There?

RankSelected yearsNumber of websites onlineNotable website launches
119911
2199210
31993130
419943000Yahoo
519982.4 millionGoogle
6200017.1 million
7200451.6 millionFacebook
8200564.7 millionYouTube
92009238.0 million
102010206.9 millionInstagram
112014969.9 million
1220171.6 billion
1320191.71 billion

About the Author

Victor Kiprop is a writer from Kenya. When he's not writing he spends time watching soccer and documentaries, visiting friends, or working in the farm. 

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