The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Information Era, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously. The idea is linked to the concept of a Digital Age or Digital Revolution, and carries the ramifications of a shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based around the manipulation of information. Commonly seen as an outflow from the Space Age, capitalizing on the computer microminiaturization advances of that effort, with a fuzzy transition spanning from the advent of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the emergence of the internet in the early 1990s, and the adaption of such technology by the public in the two decades after 1990. Since the invention of social media in the 2000s, the Information Age has evolved into the Attention Age according to some publications.
The Internet was originally conceived as a fail-proof network that could connect computers together and be resistant to any one point of failure; the Internet cannot be totally destroyed in one event, and if large areas are disabled, the information is easily re-routed. It was created mainly by ARPA; its initial software applications were email and computer file transfer.
Though the Internet itself has existed since 1969, it was with the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 and its implementation in 1991 that the Internet truly became a global network. Today the Internet has become the ultimate platform for accelerating the flow of information and is, today, the fastest-growing form of media, and is making many if not most other forms of media approach being obsolete.
What's more is that the very notion of our actions, our endeavors and especially our mistakes, being perfectly archived is somewhat terrifying to say the least, no matter what level of accepted virtue or morality we may possess. There is a stronger sense of urgency to obtain success and well being in these modern times. People are more intellectually engaged than ever before, because of The Internet.
– Lallana, Emmanuel C. and Margaret N. Uy, The Information Age
The proliferation of the smaller and less expensive personal computers and improvements in computing power by the early 1980s resulted in a sudden access to and ability to share and store information for more and more workers. Connectivity between computers within companies led to the ability of workers at different levels to access greater amounts of information. The proliferation of the internet in the 1990s resulted in a sudden leap in access to and ability share information in businesses, at home and around the globe.
Concurrently during the 1980s and 1990s in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe, there was a steady trend away from people holding Industrial Age manufacturing jobs. An increasing number of people held jobs as clerks in stores, office workers, teachers, nurses, etc. The industrial world was shifting into a service economy.
Eventually, Information and Communication Technology—computers, computerized machinery, fiber optics, communication satellites, Internet, and other ICT tools—became a significant part of the economy. Microcomputers were developed and many business and industries were greatly changed by ICT.
Nicholas Negroponte captured the essence of these changes in his 1995 book, Being Digital. His book discusses similarities and differences between products made of atoms and products made of bits. In essence, one can very cheaply and quickly make a copy of a product made of bits, and ship it across the country or around the world both quickly and at very low cost.
Thus, the term "Information Age" is often applied in relation to the use of cell phones, digital music, high definition television, digital cameras, the Internet, cable TV, and other items that have come into common use in the past 30 years.