The evolution of the Internet from 1997 to 2021

The evolution of the Internet from 1997 to 2021

How has the Internet changed over the years? The Opte Project, by Barrett Lyon, captures the evolution of the Internet from 1997 to 2021. As the Internet is a network of networks, Barrett Lyon has leveraged the connections among all those networks to create a map of the Internet.

This visual representation of the Internet is a wonderful educational tool, as it offers a quick vision of the Internet and networking. It has indeed been used in many educational discussions, publications, books, museums, etc. to illustrate how the Internet looks like. The project is truly interesting to picture the immense size of the Internet and its constant evolution. The Internet’s rapid growth is also noticeable in facts such as the depletion of IPv4 or the significant increase in Internet traffic we are experiencing globally.

Video of the evolution of the Internet from 1997 to 2021

The following video by Barrett Lyon “materializes”, in two minutes, how the Internet has evolved during the last decades. It does so by showing how networks are connected among them. As explained by Barrett Lyon’s on the Opte Project’s website:

“This video takes you through a journey of incredible engineering. Starting from the first routing table captures (provided by the University of Oregon’s RouteViews project) in 1997, we walk through the first Internet’s astonishing growth to 2021.”

Each Regional Internet Register (RIR) has been assigned a color:

  • Green represents the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Center (RIPE NCC).
  • Blue represents the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).
  • Red represents the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center (APNIC).
  • Yellow represents the African Network Information Center (AFRINIC).
  • Pink represents the Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Center (LACNIC).

In addition to those colors, white is used for backbones and brown for the US Military. Besides, on the lower left corner, the name of the dominant networks is updated according to mergers, acquisitions and brand changes. On the project’s website, you can find more details about the Opte project and its raw resources.

Internet users growth from 1997 to 2021

The number of Internet users worldwide has also experienced an astonishing growth over the last decades. From 1997 to 2021, the number of Internet users around the world has increased from 70 million to more than 5,250 million.

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