The Internet is simultaneously a global broadcasting platform, a way to share information, and a way for people to collaborate and communicate with each other, regardless of where they are in the world. The Internet is one of the greatest success stories of sustained investment and dedication to research and innovation in information infrastructure. Since the early days of packet switching, government, industry, and academia have worked together to develop and deploy this exciting new technology.
The Internet dates back to the 1960s, when government researchers began using computers to exchange information. In the 1960s, computers were large and stationary, and to access information stored on any single computer, users had to travel to the computer’s location or send magnetic computer tapes through the traditional postal network.
January 1, 1983, is considered the Internet’s official birthday. Before this date, there was no standard way for computer networks to communicate with one another.
Today, the Internet is a widely used information infrastructure. It is the prototype for what is often referred to as the “National” (or “Global” or “Galactic”) Information Infrastructure (III). The history of the Internet goes far beyond the technical aspects of computer communications, and extends across society as we increasingly use online tools to conduct electronic commerce, acquire information, and conduct community operations.
The origins of the Internet can be traced back to 1969, when U.S. Department of Defense’s advanced research projects agency network (ARPANET) was launched. ARPA-funded scientists created many of the protocols that are now used for Internet communications.
This timeline offers a brief history of the Internet’s evolution:
|1934||Belgian information expert named Paul Otlet imagined a “Radiated Library” that would use technology of the day — the telephone and radio — to create something very much like the Internet.|
|1965||Two computers at MIT Lincoln Lab communicate with one another using packet-switching technology.|
|1968||Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) unveils the final version of the Interface Message Processor (IMP) specifications. BBN wins ARPANET contract.|
|1969||On Oct. 29, UCLA’s Network Measurement Center, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), University of California-Santa Barbara and University of Utah install nodes. The first message is “LO,” which was an attempt by student Charles Kline to “LOGIN” to the SRI computer from the university. However, the message was unable to be completed because the SRI system crashed.|
|1972||BBN’s Ray Tomlinson introduces network email. The Internetworking Working Group (INWG) forms to address need for establishing standard protocols.|
|1973||Global networking becomes a reality as the University College of London (England) and Royal Radar Establishment (Norway) connect to ARPANET. The term Internet is born.|
|1974||The first Internet Service Provider (ISP) is born with the introduction of a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet.|
|1976||Queen Elizabeth II hits the “send button” on her first email.|
|1979||USENET forms to host news and discussion groups.|
|1981||The National Science Foundation (NSF) provided a grant to establish the Computer Science Network (CSNET) to provide networking services to university computer scientists.|
|1982||Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, emerge as the protocol for ARPANET. This results in the fledgling definition of the Internet as connected TCP/IP internets. TCP/IP remains the standard protocol for the Internet.|
|1983||The Domain Name System (DNS) establishes the familiar .edu, .gov, .com, .mil, .org, .net, and .int system for naming websites. This is easier to remember than the previous designation for websites, such as 123.456.789.10.|
|1984||William Gibson, author of “Neuromancer,” is the first to use the term “cyberspace.”|
|1985||Symbolics.com, the website for Symbolics Computer Corp. in Massachusetts, becomes the first registered domain.|
|1986||The National Science Foundation’s NSFNET goes online to connected supercomputer centers at 56,000 bits per second — the speed of a typical dial-up computer modem. Over time the network speeds up and regional research and education networks, supported in part by NSF, are connected to the NSFNET backbone — effectively expanding the Internet throughout the United States. The NSFNET was essentially a network of networks that connected academic users along with the ARPANET.|
|1987||The number of hosts on the Internet exceeds 20,000. Cisco ships its first router.|
|1991||CERN introduces the World Wide Web to the public.|
|1992||The first audio and video are distributed over the Internet. The phrase “surfing the Internet” is popularised.|
|1993||The National Science Foundation leads an effort to outline a new Internet architecture that would support the burgeoning commercial use of the network.|
|1994||Netscape Communications is born. Microsoft creates a Web browser for Windows 95.|
|1998||The Google search engine is born, changing the way users engage with the Internet.|
|2004||Facebook goes online and the era of social networking begins. Mozilla unveils the Mozilla Firefox browser.|
|2009||The Internet marks its 40th anniversary.|
|2010||Facebook reaches 400 million active users.|
In these videos, you can get a vision of how internet began:
The internet is one of the most important tools in recent history, giving us access to countless amounts of information. We give you a brief history of how it all came to be:
“History of the Internet” is an animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to filesharing, from Arpanet to the Internet:
The internet works through a massive global network of optical fiber cables. In this animation, you can see how data typically flows between the different levels of internet service providers in the modern internet. The optical fiber cables carry signals in the form of light. However, your laptop or mobile phone processes electrical signals. So how does this conversion of light to electrical signals happen? And more importantly, why is the internet structured the way it is today?