Year 2000, when digitalisation became ubiquituous.

I would make a clear difference of the impact of digitalisation, before and after ubiquitous connectivity (1). In fact in 2000 WiFi, ADSL  UMTS and Application Layer Firewalls (3) started to be commercialized, making within a few years computer interconnection the norm, whilst it was rather the exception before.

Before 2000 computers were interconnected only through Local Area Networks (LANs), whose first commercial application was in December 1977 at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York (2).
Crucially, in 2000 the connection speed to Internet was dramatically increased through ADSL on fixed lines and UMTS in mobile networks, so that it became normal to download at a speed of 8 Mbit/s (through ADSL) and 384 kbit/s (through UMTS). A great leap forward, if compared to the previous maximum download speed of 56 kbit/s.

Internet, i.e. Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, as we know them today would not be usable with less upload/download speed. Even twitter, that in theory requires no broadband, is so popular because:
a)     of its ability to post images and links (which require broad band)
b)     it is a “no-frills” social network, communicating with messages of just 140 characters (appealing, as opposed to multimedia bulk-message social networks, like youtube or facebook).

The distinction between before and after ubiquitous computing is arbitrary, I know, as it is to date it back to 2000. For the purpose of my reasoning it does not matter if it is more accurate to date back ubiquitous computing to 1996 (a very unlikely date, because WiFi, UMTS and ADSL were not already developed) or 2005. Year 2000, anyway, sounds momentuous, and I will use it therefore.

At that time there were less then 400 million Internet users and about 500 million mobile subscribers. Today we have more then two billion Internet users and more then six billion mobile subscribers http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/.

 

Footnotes:

(1) Ubiquitous connectivity with upload/download speeds that allow the use of computers and mobile divices as we do today, became a reality since 2000, when Internet had about 400 million users, most of them were accessing it at a speed between 14.4 kbit/s and 56 kbit/s.

Ubiquitous connectivity as we know and use it today, started in 1999-2000 with the ADSL broadband connection: the ITU G.992.1 standard, with download speeds of up to 8 Mbit/s and upload speeds up to 1 Mbit/s: http://www.itu.int/rec/T-REC-G.992.1.

Until 1999 the Internet connections were no faster then 56.6 kbits/s download and 36.6 upload (ITU-T recommendations V.90 and V.92). Also ISDN had a download/upload speed of just 128 kbit/s, for each duplex connection (1988 CCITT red book, then a ITU-T recommendation, now a European Norm, ETSI EN 300485) www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_en/300400_300499/300485/01.03.01_20/en_300485v010301c.pdf).

For mobile devices also, ubiquitous connectivity became possible since 2000, with UMTS and then HSDPA: UMTS supports maximum theoretical data transfer rates of 42 Mbit/s when HSPA+ is implemented in the network. Users in deployed networks can expect a transfer rate of up to 384 kbit/s for Release ’99 (R99) handsets (the original UMTS release), and 7.2 Mbit/s for HSDPA handsets in the downlink connection. These speeds are significantly faster than the 9.6 kbit/s of a single GSM error-corrected circuit switched data channel (or multiple 9.6 kbit/s channels in HSCSD or 14.4 kbit/s for CDMAOne channels).

Since 2006, UMTS networks in many countries have been, or are in the process of being, upgraded with High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), sometimes known as 3.5G. Currently, HSDPA enables downlink transfer speeds of up to 21 Mbit/s. Work is also progressing on improving the uplink transfer speed with the High-Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA). In the longer term, the 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) project plans to move UMTS to 4G speeds of 100 Mbit/s down and 50 Mbit/s up, using a next generation air interface technology based upon orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UMTS http://www.etsi.org/website/technologies/umts.aspx  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_access

(2) http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9060198/The_LAN_turns_30_but_will_it_reach_40_

LANs were popular in order to share in a local working community the scarce resources of that time: large storage and printers.  The Eternet LAN is today a standard managed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: IEEE 802.3 http://standards.ieee.org/about/get/802/802.3.html

The evolution of LANs, that made LANs ubiquitous, not only in office, but also at home, is WiFi, aka IEEE 802.11 standard.  http://standards.ieee.org/about/get/802/802.11.html

Anyway, still it is the norm that all the users of a LAN have the credentials of an administrator, and that there is normally no way to know when digital data/information are final/stabilized, unless they are somehow externalized (i.e. published/shared/printed).

(3) Eventually, the use of personal firewalls has become normal since we have ubiquitous computing. Their deployment on personal computers dates back to already to 1994, with the definition of Application Layer Firewall, that had a commercial breakthrough since the beginning of 2000. Application Layer Firewall (together with UMTS, ADSL, WiFi) is one of the major technologic breakthrough, that has shaped ubiquitous computing since the beginning of this millennium (together with ADSL, UMTS and WIFI) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_layer_firewall#History

 

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