Seen from the perspective of a knowledgeable observer circa 1990, the Internet would have appeared to be ill-suited for commercial life. There was no orientation toward market needs. The National Science Foundation (NSF) allowed users to develop applications that were not for sale, and most applications stressed technically advanced functionality, not user-friendliness. The network behind the scenes also did not charge prices, and seemed not to provide experience relevant to organizing a mass market for data services from many providers.
Compare those impressions with what did happen. The NSF privatized the Internet backbone, and not long thereafter the growth and deployment of the commercial Internet changed the way everyone lives, works, and plays. Most astonishing of all, the deployment of the commercial Internet brought about these changes at a fast pace. These characteristics are typically associated with only the most transformative technologies, such as the deployment of electricity or the automobile.