The history of the webinar – an online event format that remains relevant to this day

Webinars have become an essential part of our lives. However, you may not be aware of the history that led to the appearance and popularity of this technology. Here you will find an insight into how webinars became so relevant in today’s world.

So, what is a webinar? A webinar is an event or conference which is held virtually and attended by an exclusive online audience. These types of events tend to be interactive and can include workshops, online classes, seminars and training sessions.

During a webinar, the host organisation has the ability to share PowerPoint presentations, videos, images and other multimedia content with the attendees. The audience can watch and listen from anywhere in the world provided there is a reliable internet connection.

Webinars offer a perfect opportunity to engage in business-related activities and sell products or services to customers. They are used in many industries as they provide convenience and ease of access. The possibilities are endless since there are many different tools that can be utilised while delivering a webinar. Moreover, planning a webinar is much easier than organising an in-person event as there is no need to hire a big venue.

History of the webinar

The history of webinars began at the end of 1980s at a time when the Internet was in its early development stages. Its predecessors were web chats and text messaging apps such as IRC. In 1995, PictureTel launched the LiveShare Plus software which enabled users to share their screens, transfer files and send messages. 

In 1996 the first public web conferences were introduced when the NetMeeting developed by Microsoft became available. The first ever webinar software PlaceWare was released the same year and was produced by Xerox PARC. The tool presented users with the option of delivering a presentation by one or several users. It included key features such as audience polls, private chats and the possibility for attendees to be the webinar presenters. In 1998, Eric R. Korb registered the term ‘webinar’ which was disputed in court.

Currently, the registered owner of the trademark is InterCall. Over the last two decades new webinar platforms have emerged such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.

What makes the webinar relevant today?

Webinars are unlike anything we have experienced before. They are gaining more and more popularity among various businesses. There are a range of reasons why this phenomenon is so relevant nowadays.

Firstly, companies have the chance to deliver tremendous value to their customers. You can tailor your content and let the audience ask questions in real-time. By using webinars you can keep your attendees engaged for hours and encourage them to take actions.

Secondly, you have the unique ability to connect with hundreds of people around the world. If people in your audience cannot attend the event, you have the option to record it and send it to them.

Lastly, webinars are the perfect opportunity to position yourself as an expert in your field. All you need to do is put effort and plan it according to your audience’s needs.

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