We like to imagine that the human race has always been innovative. But innovation was a slow and steady affair for most of the 20th century. It was the work of individual genius or think tanks. For the most part, brilliant people innovated and the public slowly adopted the idea. The mainstream love affair with innovation began with the invention of the computer. It attained momentum with the birth of the Internet. In the 1980s, innovation was not necessary for business success. A business could do well just by deploying a proven business model. Efficiency was not a prime directive. Following tradition was a sensible way to stay in business. A store owner, for example, was content with using a cash register similar to the one invented by James Ritty in 1879 to prevent his employees from pilfering his saloon profits in Dayton, Ohio. All this changed on 6 August 1991, a little-remembered date, when the World Wide Web went live to the world. There was hardly a mention of it in any newspaper on the planet. Most people around the globe had no idea that the Internet existed. Although Tim Berners-Lee’s invention changed the world as we know it, it was only toward the end of the decade that the Internet became popular.
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