Web3 – a Brief History

If web3 is a thing, what the heck was the original, web1? And what about it’s highly produced sequel, web2?

You can think of each as a different era of the internet. Each like a layer in a yummy cake stacked on top of each other.

Web1 – the first era

​This story starts in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Internet building blocks (sometimes called protocols) are created by groups of humans working together in non-profits and open-source software communities. Things like the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (or HTTP and it’s secure sibling HTTPS) are born.

Hypertext. Ooooh that just sounds cool. 😆

The web at that time was mostly text-based websites. And you usually found other cool websites to visit because the one you were reading linked you to another.

You surfed the web. 🏄‍♂️

Google wasn’t really a thing yet. And no one knew what a selfie or retweet was.

The World Wide Web, as it was often called, was open for anyone to build on and contribute to.

It was interesting, weird, and fun.


Then, in the early 2000’s, a new era of the web started to take shape. Simple text-based websites began adding images and interactivity.

Search engines helped us find other websites. Social networks helped us connect to other humans. And Wikipedia became a thing.

Buying things on the internet became normal, new business models like subscriptions were born, and ads started to take off – big time.

Somewhere in there, smart phones blew up too. Everything was on mobile. And gajillions of humans got connected to the internet.

Also – we started watching a lot of cat videos. Mee-oww.

This was the formative era for many of the internet giants we know today: Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google.


​We’re now somewhere in this next era.

It began sprouting in ~2008 when magic internet money – Bitcoin – appeared. 🪄

New internet building blocks, like blockchains, were/are being created in the open – typically outside the walls of large corporations.

Teams are exploring radically new ways to structure companies and projects with decentralized autonomous organizations or DAOs.

And artists are experimenting with new ways to own, distribute, and earn a living from their work with non-fungible tokens or NFTs.

All of this radical experimentation and innovation has suddenly made many feel like the internet is interesting, weird, and fun again.

Here’s your takeaway:

​Web3 isn’t a single thing.

Web3 is a collection of technologies (like the blockchain), ideas (decentralized autonomous organizations), and concepts (tokens and cryptoeconomics).

Above all, it feels like something new, weird, open, and fun.