Wednesday, June 29
What the HTTP makeover means for the Internet

There are many things you may remember about the technology of the 90s – whether it’s playing on your Nintendo 64 and paging your friends, or listening to your Walkman CD player whilst out for a jog. Some of you might look back at the technology with disdain, like the music skipping on your Walkman if you knocked it accidentally, or how you used to have to page someone before mobile phones were commonplace. But others can still bring back fond memories – even today, the Nintendo 64 still holds a place in some households and pubs, giving off that ‘retro’ vibe.

One thing most of us won’t reminisce about, however, is slow Internet speeds and webpage loading. Did you know that the last major version of the protocol used by the World Wide Web, HTTP, was introduced in 1997? It wasn’t until 2015 – 18 years later – that a new protocol was introduced, and HTTP/1.1 was replaced with HTTP/2. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the technical protocol to transport requests (clicking on a link) and responses (loading the page) on the web. Why does this matter? Think about how much the web has changed over the last couple of decades. The way it’s used today isn’t what it was actually made for; HTTP was mainly used to present webpages and exchange information by organisations such as universities. But now we are transporting heavier objects and the expectations around our internet experience have sky-rocketed. Think about how targeting customers online has also changed incrementally in the last 19 years. Let’s compare the Internet-sphere in 1997 to how it looks today.

The Internet, but not as we know it