The Internet has certainly changed the world. While the actual hardware and source of the concept can be traced as far back as the 1970s and the United States Department of Defense projects (sorry Al Gore, it really was not you), the online arena started seeing civilian use in the 1980s. At the time, it was minimal in use, often just the toy of the rich or the super-geeky, but a few people had modems in their computers.
The mid to late 1990s were when the Internet started seeing expansion into mainstream culture as more and more among the middle class started getting computers that had online access. Those were they days of Prodigy, America Online (AOL), and a host of other services that brought articles, chat rooms, and a plethora of other online content to users, in addition to the ability to connect to websites outside of their content platforms.
Phone lines were often used for Internet connections back then, but that slowly changed. Phone companies still offer Internet connections, but they are usually DSL now, high-speed and no longer will the power eat up your normal phone line. A lot of consumers also go with cable Internet service, and some even use satellite connections.
As high-tech and full of potential as the Internet was, the primary activity on it early on was pornography. That was eventually replaced by music streaming and media piracy, although even that was eventually unseated by social media use, which lost out to media streaming. However, this time it was legitimate streaming through sources like Netflix.
Considering how much business relies on the Internet, it is obviously here to stay. Given its role in uprising across the Greater Middle East during the Arab Spring, it has yet to be determined just how much it is shaping the world.