The History of the Internet in a Nutshell

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you spend a fair amount of time online. However, considering how much of an influence the Internet has in our daily lives, how many of us actually know the story of how it got its start?

Here’s a brief history of the Internet, including important dates, people, projects, sites, and other information that should give you at least a partial picture of what this thing we call the Internet really is, and where it came from.

The History of the Internet in a Nutshell

While the complete history of the Internet could easily fill a few books, this article should familiarize you with key milestones and events related to the growth and evolution of the Internet between 1969 to 2009.

1969: Arpanet


Arpanet was the first real network to run on packet switching technology (new at the time). On the October 29, 1969, computers at Stanford and UCLA connected for the first time. In effect, they were the first hosts on what would one day become the Internet.

The first message sent across the network was supposed to be "Login", but reportedly, the link between the two colleges crashed on the letter "g".

1969: Unix


Another major milestone during the 60’s was the inception of Unix: the operating system whose design heavily influenced that of Linux and FreeBSD (the operating systems most popular in today’s web servers/web hosting services).

1970: Arpanet network

An Arpanet network was established between Harvard, MIT, and BBN (the company that created the "interface message processor" computers used to connect to the network) in 1970.

1971: Email


Email was first developed in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, who also made the decision to use the "@" symbol to separate the user name from the computer name (which later on became the domain name).

1971: Project Gutenberg and eBooks

Project Gutenberg and eBooks

One of the most impressive developments of 1971 was the start of Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg, for those unfamiliar with the site, is a global effort to make books and documents in the public domain available electronically–for free–in a variety of eBook and electronic formats.

It began when Michael Hart gained access to a large block of computing time and came to the realization that the future of computers wasn’t in computing itself, but in the storage, retrieval and searching of information that, at the time, was only contained in libraries. He manually typed (no OCR at the time) the "Declaration of Independence" and launched Project Gutenberg to make information contained in books widely available in electronic form. In effect, this was the birth of the eBook.


France began its own Arpanet-like project in 1972, called CYCLADES. While Cyclades was eventually shut down, it did pioneer a key idea: the host computer should be responsible for data transmission rather than the network itself.

1973: The first trans-Atlantic connection and the popularity of emailing

Arpanet made its first trans-Atlantic connection in 1973, with the University College of London. During the same year, email accounted for 75% of all Arpanet network activity.

1974: The beginning of TCP/IP

The beginning of TCP/IP

1974 was a breakthrough year. A proposal was published to link Arpa-like networks together into a so-called "inter-network", which would have no central control and would work around a transmission control protocol (which eventually became TCP/IP).

1975: The email client

With the popularity of emailing, the first modern email program was developed by John Vittal, a programmer at the University of Southern California in 1975. The biggest technological advance this program (called MSG) made was the addition of "Reply" and "Forward" functionality.

1977: The PC modem

The PC modem

1977 was a big year for the development of the Internet as we know it today. It’s the year the first PC modem, developed by Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington, was introduced and initially sold to computer hobbyists.

1978: The Bulletin Board System (BBS)

The first bulletin board system (BBS) was developed during a blizzard in Chicago in 1978.

1978: Spam is born

1978 is also the year that brought the first unsolicited commercial email message (later known as spam), sent out to 600 California Arpanet users by Gary Thuerk.

1979: MUD – The earliest form of multiplayer games

MUD - The earliest form of multiplayer games

The precursor to World of Warcraft and Second Life was developed in 1979, and was called MUD (short for MultiUser Dungeon). MUDs were entirely text-based virtual worlds, combining elements of role-playing games, interactive, fiction, and online chat.

1979: Usenet

1979 also ushered into the scene: Usenet, created by two graduate students. Usenet was an internet-based discussion system, allowing people from around the globe to converse about the same topics by posting public messages categorized by newsgroups.

1980: ENQUIRE software

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known as CERN) launched ENQUIRE (written by Tim Berners-Lee), a hypertext program that allowed scientists at the particle physics lab to keep track of people, software, and projects using hypertext (hyperlinks).

1982: The first emoticon

The first emoticon

While many people credit Kevin MacKenzie with the invention of the emoticon in 1979, it was Scott Fahlman in 1982 who proposed using :-) after a joke, rather than the original -) proposed by MacKenzie. The modern emoticon was born.

1983: Arpanet computers switch over to TCP/IP

January 1, 1983 was the deadline for Arpanet computers to switch over to the TCP/IP protocols developed by Vinton Cerf. A few hundred computers were affected by the switch. The name server was also developed in ’83.

1984: Domain Name System (DNS)

Domain Name System (DNS)

The domain name system was created in 1984 along with the first Domain Name Servers (DNS). The domain name system was important in that it made addresses on the Internet more human-friendly compared to its numerical IP address counterparts. DNS servers allowed Internet users to type in an easy-to-remember domain name and then converted it to the IP address automatically.

1985: Virtual communities

1985 brought the development of The WELL (short for Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link), one of the oldest virtual communities still in operation. It was developed by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant in February of ’85. It started out as a community of the readers and writers of the Whole Earth Review and was an open but "remarkably literate and uninhibited intellectual gathering". Wired Magazine once called The Well "The most influential online community in the world."

1986: Protocol wars

The so-called Protocol wars began in 1986. European countries at that time were pursuing the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI), while the United States was using the Internet/Arpanet protocol, which eventually won out.

1987: The Internet grows

By 1987, there were nearly 30,000 hosts on the Internet. The original Arpanet protocol had been limited to 1,000 hosts, but the adoption of the TCP/IP standard made larger numbers of hosts possible.

1988: IRC – Internet Relay Chat

IRC - Internet Relay Chat

Also in 1988, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was first deployed, paving the way for real-time chat and the instant messaging programs we use today.

1988: First major malicious internet-based attack

One of the first major Internet worms was released in 1988. Referred to as "The Morris Worm", it was written by Robert Tappan Morris and caused major interruptions across large parts of the Internet.

1989: AOL is launched

AOL is launched

When Apple pulled out of the AppleLink program in 1989, the project was renamed and America Online was born. AOL, still in existence today, later on made the Internet popular amongst the average internet users.

1989: The proposal for the World Wide Web

The Proposal for the World Wide Web

1989 also brought about the proposal for the World Wide Web, written by Tim Berners-Lee. It was originally published in the March issue of MacWorld, and then redistributed in May 1990. It was written to persuade CERN that a global hypertext system was in CERN’s best interest. It was originally called "Mesh"; the term "World Wide Web" was coined while Berners-Lee was writing the code in 1990.

1990: First commercial dial-up ISP

1990 also brought about the first commercial dial-up Internet provider, The World. The same year, Arpanet ceased to exist.

1990: World Wide Web protocols finished

The code for the World Wide Web was written by Tim Berners-Lee, based on his proposal from the year before, along with the standards for HTML, HTTP, and URLs.

1991: First web page created

First web page created

1991 brought some major innovations to the world of the Internet. The first web page was created and, much like the first email explained what email was, its purpose was to explain what the World Wide Web was.

1991: First content-based search protocol

Also in the same year, the first search protocol that examined file contents instead of just file names was launched, called Gopher.

1991: MP3 becomes a standard

Also, the MP3 file format was accepted as a standard in 1991. MP3 files, being highly compressed, later become a popular file format to share songs and entire albums via the internet.

1991: The first webcam

The first webcam

One of the more interesting developments of this era, though, was the first webcam. It was deployed at a Cambridge University computer lab, and its sole purpose was to monitor a particular coffee maker so that lab users could avoid wasted trips to an empty coffee pot.

1993: Mosaic – first graphical web browser for the general public

Mosaic - first graphical web browser for the general public

The first widely downloaded Internet browser, Mosaic, was released in 1993. While Mosaic wasn’t the first web browser, it is considered the first browser to make the Internet easily accessible to non-techies.

1993: Governments join in on the fun

In 1993, both the White House and the United Nations came online, marking the beginning of the .gov and .org domain names.

1994: Netscape Navigator

Netscape Navigator

Mosaic’s first big competitor, Netscape Navigator, was released the year following (1994).

1995: Commercialization of the internet

1995 is often considered the first year the web became commercialized. While there were commercial enterprises online prior to ’95, there were a few key developments that happened that year. First, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption was developed by Netscape, making it safer to conduct financial transactions (like credit card payments) online.

In addition, two major online businesses got their start the same year. The first sale on "Echo Bay" was made that year. Echo Bay later became eBay. also started in 1995, though it didn’t turn a profit for six years, until 2001.

1995: Geocities, the Vatican goes online, and JavaScript

Other major developments that year included the launch of Geocities (which officially closed down on October 26, 2009).

The Vatican also went online for the first time.

Java and JavaScript (originally called LiveScript by its creator, Brendan Eich, and deployed as part of the Netscape Navigator browser – see comments for explanation) was first introduced to the public in 1995. ActiveX was launched by Microsoft the following year.

1996: First web-based (webmail) service

First web-based (webmail) service

In 1996, HoTMaiL (the capitalized letters are an homage to HTML), the first webmail service, was launched.

1997: The term "weblog" is coined

While the first blogs had been around for a few years in one form or another, 1997 was the first year the term "weblog" was used.

1998: First new story to be broken online instead of traditional media

In 1998, the first major news story to be broken online was the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal (also referred to as "Monicagate" among other nicknames), which was posted on The Drudge Report after Newsweek killed the story.

1998: Google!


Google went live in 1998, revolutionizing the way in which people find information online.

1998: Internet-based file-sharing gets its roots

Internet-based file-sharing starts to become popular

In 1998 as well, Napster launched, opening up the gates to mainstream file-sharing of audio files over the internet.

1999: SETI@home project

1999 is the year when one of the more interesting projects ever brought online: the SETI@home project, launched. The project has created the equivalent of a giant supercomputer by harnessing the computing power of more than 3 million computers worldwide, using their processors whenever the screensaver comes on, indicating that the computer is idle. The program analyzes radio telescope data to look for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

2000: The bubble bursts

2000 was the year of the dotcom collapse, resulting in huge losses for legions of investors. Hundreds of companies closed, some of which had never turned a profit for their investors. The NASDAQ, which listed a large number of tech companies affected by the bubble, peaked at over 5,000, then lost 10% of its value in a single day, and finally hit bottom in October of 2002.

2001: Wikipedia is launched

Wikipedia is launched

With the dotcom collapse still going strong, Wikipedia launched in 2001, one of the websites that paved the way for collective web content generation/social media.

2003: VoIP goes mainstream

In 2003: Skype is released to the public, giving a user-friendly interface to Voice over IP calling.

2003: MySpace becomes the most popular social network

Also in 2003, MySpace opens up its doors. It later grew to be the most popular social network at one time (though it has since been overtaken by Facebook).

2003: CAN-SPAM Act puts a lid on unsolicited emails

Another major advance in 2003 was the signing of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, better known as the CAN-SPAM Act.

2004: Web 2.0

Though coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci, the term "Web 2.0", referring to websites and Rich Internet Applications (RIA) that are highly interactive and user-driven became popular around 2004. During the first Web 2.0 conference, John Batelle and Tim O’Reilly described the concept of "the Web as a Platform": software applications built to take advantage of internet connectivity, moving away from the desktop (which has downsides such as operating system dependency and lack of interoperability).

2004: Social Media and Digg

The term "social media", believed to be first used by Chris Sharpley, was coined in the same year that "Web 2.0" became a mainstream concept. Social media–sites and web applications that allow its users to create and share content and to connect with one another–started around this period.

Social Media and Digg

Digg, a social news site, launched on November of 2004, paving the way for sites such as Reddit, Mixx, and Yahoo! Buzz. Digg revolutionized traditional means of generating and finding web content, democratically promoting news and web links that are reviewed and voted on by a community.

2004: "The" Facebook open to college students

"The" Facebook open to college students

Facebook launched in 2004, though at the time it was only open to college students and was called "The Facebook"; later on, "The" was dropped from the name, though the URL still works.

2005: YouTube – streaming video for the masses

YouTube launched in 2005, bringing free online video hosting and sharing to the masses.

2006: Twitter gets twittering

Twitter launched in 2006. It was originally going to be called twittr (inspired by Flickr); the first Twitter message was "just setting up my twttr".

2007: Major move to place TV shows online

Major move to place TV shows online

Hulu was first launched in 2007, a joint venture between ABC, NBC, and Fox to make popular TV shows available to watch online.

2007: The iPhone and the Mobile Web

The Mobile Web

The biggest innovation of 2007 was almost certainly the iPhone, which was almost wholly responsible for renewed interest in mobile web applications and design.

2008: "Internet Election"

The first "Internet election" took place in 2008 with the U.S. Presidential election. It was the first year that national candidates took full advantage of all the Internet had to offer. Hillary Clinton jumped on board early with YouTube campaign videos. Virtually every candidate had a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, or both.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul set a new fundraising record by raising $4.3 million in a single day through online donations, and then beat his own record only weeks later by raising $4.4 million in a single day.

The 2008 elections placed the Internet squarely at the forefront of politics and campaigning, a trend that is unlikely to change any time in the near future.

2009: ICANN policy changes

2009 brought about one of the biggest changes to come to the Internet in a long time when the U.S. relaxed its control over ICANN, the official naming body of the Internet (they’re the organization in charge of registering domain names).

The Future?

Where is the future of the Internet headed? Share your opinions in the comments section.

Sources and Further Reading

Related Content

About the Author

Cameron Chapman is a professional web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience in the industry. She’s also written for numerous blogs such as Smashing Magazine and Mashable. You can find her personal web presence at Cameron Chapman On Writing. If you’d like to connect with her, check her out on Twitter.

This was published on Nov 15, 2009


Wow. That’s an impressive timeline. It’s neat to see where this thing started and what it’s come to. What does the future hold? :p

Oystein Nov 15 2009

“Arpanet made its first trans-Atlantic connection in 1973, with the University College of London.”

This cant be right..
First Norway got connected tre 20 min befour london..

Arren Nov 15 2009

Only now I know where The Internet comes from. Great resource compilation.

Oystein Nov 15 2009

To be more presice NORSTAR (Norwegian Seismic Array) At Kjeller in Norway. UCL was then connected through Kjeller.

Joe Scanlon Nov 15 2009

Cool post – So we have Scott Fahlman to blame for all the :-) then!

Design Informer Nov 15 2009

Awesome article! I’m really liking these recent articles from six revisions. Very well researched!

Al Gore Nov 15 2009

Wait a minute – I thought I created the internet!


Martin Leblanc Nov 15 2009

Great blog post. Thanks for doing such fine research :-)

Dawn Baird Nov 15 2009

Fascinating read, even if I can’t understand all the terminology!

Mediumjones Nov 15 2009

Wow, seriously quality article. Bravo!

Austin Nov 15 2009

Awesome post! I bet that it’s surprising to a lot of people that HTTP wasn’t the beginnings of the Internet. When you hear the term ‘Internet’, most people think of the WWW and browsing HyperText Documents.

Sampad Swain Nov 15 2009

Great resource. Bookmarked the article for my future use.


Baylink Nov 15 2009

Well, I was around for most of it, and that’s about the nicest precis I’ve seen so far. I don’t get as many reads as @Alyssa_Milano, but we’ve both tweeted it. :-)

Dylan Parry Nov 15 2009

Nice article. Found quite a few things that I didn’t know about the Internet from reading it. One small thing though – JavaScript wasn’t created by Sun Microsystems… a marketing deal between Sun and Netscape is the reason why it’s called JavaScript, but it was created and released initially by Netscape.

In exchange for Netscape being allowed to package and release Sun’s Java runtime as part of Netscape Navigator, Netscape agreed to call their new scripting language JavaScript. It was originally called Mocha, then renamed LiveScript, then finally JavaScript.

So Sun was involved somewhat, in fact they owned (still own?) the trademark on the name JavaScript, but they didn’t really have anything to do with its creation.

Mats Ahlqvist Nov 15 2009

Where is the future of the Internet headed ?

First , is there a difference between the Internet and the Web ? If we look back to the origin we see that cooperation between universitys was the intention and driving force . That is the spirit of Internet . The spirit of the Web is more common commercialization and interests .

It is natural that progress will be made both on the Internet and on the Web . Bigger , faster and more complex tech for advanced software . It is the HW tech that sets the boundries for what can be done . But already there is very much that can be done with time and money .

Also travelling to Mars will make an impact on Internet/WWWeb . Communication will be further advanced and more sophisticated .

The commercial forces will want to enroll more and more people into WWWeconomy and that might be a good thing . Whats the difference between working on the WWWeb and the labormarket – should there be a difference ? No need to worry if the difference is a good difference . But yes , can government allow WWW to control the making of daily bread ?

So much to know . So much to remember . So many fascilities and tools and machines and programs and levels and dimensions and matrix´s and codes and versions and upgrades it isn´t at all strange people wonder in awe .

But I believe in the systemstructure to keep the train on the track and if I am wrong we can make it right .

Brent Nov 15 2009

Nice article!

Although, there were search engines before Google. Yahoo! (’94) and AltaVista (’95) were probably the two largest.

kcidau Nov 15 2009

Great article! One slight error I’ve noticed though: JavaScript wasn’t developed by Sun, but by Netscape.

Louis-Pierre Dahito Nov 15 2009

Amazing article! Thx for sharing. I’ve been looking for something like this for quite a while.

Correction: JavaScript was actually created by Netscape and Mozilla in 1995 and had no relation to Java by Sun Microsystems except that they wanted to make it look like Java so it would be easy to work with.

Gopher was not a search engine

Zach Echlin Nov 15 2009

A small typo. Sun didn’t develop JavaScript–Netscape did.

cameron, what did you do? this post is f**kin’ amazing… thx for this hard work…

Brian Dear Nov 15 2009

You’re flat wrong about “1979: MUD – The earliest form of multiplayer games”. Incredibly, extremely, embarrassingly wrong. Do your homework.

Thanks for the great article.

Apparently Google is the biggest breakthrough because it’s the only one what has an exclamation mark “!” on its section heading. It feels like the author is shouting out “Google! Here you come!” :-P

Andy Berkvam Nov 15 2009

Gopher is not a search engine any more than the world wide web is a search engine. Veronica and Jughead were search engines for the Gopher protocol however they both only indexed the names of menu items, not the actual file contents.

Nathan Nahm Nov 15 2009

Thank you for writing an excellent summary of the complicated history of the Internet and for publishing it in a publicly accessible site. Like Tim Bernes-Lee, who wrote and dedicated the protocol for WWW to the public domain, you are one of the heroes who make the technological innovations work for everyone, rather than enrich a few business proprietors, who somehow acquire the legal rights to the innovations made other creative people and then use the technology exclusively for their personal profits.

Andre Nov 15 2009

I guess it’s no surprise to anyone now that we are moving into a world where just about everything electronic will be capable of connecting to the internet.

A beautiful world!

Carmen Nov 15 2009

Huh, wasn’t it Al Gore who invented the Internet? :D

Cameron. Great post! Very interesting. I didn’t know Napoleon Dynamite invented the modem.

Geekoid Nov 15 2009

An excellent and well written article, Cameron. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and it brought back some memories from the early days! Thank you for sharing your research and insight.

Raelifin Nov 15 2009

Future of the web? If Google is to believed, cloud computing will take over as the primary means of computing, shifting us back to the mainframe/terminal mode of using computers. This means that internet connected devices don’t need much besides huge pipes, so netbooks and smartphones will continue to kill off the tower-based PC.

Cloud computing also creates a huge demand for standards and interfaces that will allow web-apps to easily communicate and share info. This should lead to the end of the typically anonymous web, as user profiles will sync, creating persistent identity.

In short, take current trends and project outward. As more of the world comes online expect to see exponential growth. That’s my take on things.

Mark Alves Nov 15 2009

Who new that Napoleon Dynamite invented the modem?! Seriously, thanks for putting together an interesting post with great graphics.

AndrewNoNumbers Nov 15 2009

That’s quite a huge nutshell. I don’t have time to read it at the moment, but I really look forward to it.

conancat Nov 15 2009

i love this article! thank you for putting the history of internet in such accessible manner, it is a pretty interesting read, knowing when our most popular websites started :D

Jeremy Nov 15 2009

JavaScript was not developed by Sun. It was developed by Netscape.

Kevin Nov 15 2009

I noticed you had SETI@home starting in 1999. Pretty sure I was using it much earlier than that. I worked for AOL shortly after its beginning, and I remember our IT dept banning it because of the network resources it was consuming.

Good article though :) Another thing is you left out CServ & DowJones network, which were pretty big around the days of BBS’s.

jaychivo Nov 15 2009

wahoo, great info of internet,very impressive.

Sandhya Nov 15 2009

awsome article…realy enjoyed readin it :)

The Classic Carol Nov 15 2009

Awesome compilation of data. What a great history lesson. I wonder how many people online now were born after the internet was invented. Woot, 1969!

corwin Nov 15 2009

This was a great comprehensive timeline. I remember most of it, but still learned a lot. Thanks!

Pedants R. Us Nov 15 2009

Just one minor correction: Javascript was developed by Netscape, not Sun. Java and Javascript aren’t related apart from the similarity of their names.

I like how this whole article conveniently leaved Windows out. It’s so blatant that it ruins an otherwise good read.

John Heatherington Nov 16 2009

FYI, you spelled my cousin’s name incorrectly. Under year 1977, it’s Dale “Heatherington”. Here’s his website for reference. No worries. =)

Great, concise and very informative article. You must have worked very hard to prepare it. Thanks

now thats a good read! Great job! :D

Naresh Nov 16 2009

Superb article. Thanks a lot!

hectore Nov 16 2009

No Yahoo? you’ve got to be kidding!!! back in 95 the place to go to find stuff on the web was the obscure page at Stanford that would later become yahoo. This definately has to be on the list!

Frank Nov 16 2009

Great story. The internet is so young and already this many milestones. Maybe a nice addon in this presentation you can also see the immense growth of the internet: and the rising of the mobile web.

An ass-suckingly awful history that doesn’t mention Leonard Kleinrock or Vinton Cerf. Back to the drawing board.

Narno Nov 16 2009

Very interesting article, easy to read and with a lot of references. Thx Cameron! :-)

Wilhelm Fitzpatrick Nov 16 2009

Just for the record:

* Java was launched by Sun Microsystems.
* JavaScript was originally called LiveScript and was created at Netscape, and included in a version of the Netscape Browser. Shortly after its original introduction, some misguided marketeer renamed LiveScript to JavaScript even though the language had no relation to, and is in fact quite different from, Java.

Randy Nov 16 2009

Javascript came from Netscape and Internet explorer used Mosaic sourcecode.

Callum Chapman Nov 16 2009

Great post Cameron! From the year of my birth to the current day, we’ve managed to transform the first purely text-based website into works of art viewed by billions of people every day that we can view on huge glossy monitors and tiny iPhone screens in our pockets – because of this I’m really not too sure what could happen next! I think maybe Flickr should have made it into your timeline, though ;)

Webecta Nov 16 2009

Although the Internet has been around for 40+ years, most people have only really used it as it is today for 10-20 years. Thanks for the great look at how the Internet was created!

PaulS Nov 16 2009

Great article, but what about FTP! FTP existed before TCP/IP:

The first FTP standard was RFC 114, published in April 1971, before TCP and IP even existed.


It’s one of the oldest protocols around(created the same year as email), and is still very widely used. A must for any proper history of the internet, if you as me ;-)

You might also considering adding the RFC process and then the appropriate RFC’s to the standards.

Jacob Gube Nov 16 2009

Thank you all for your time in commenting and making this article better and more accurate.

@Dylan Parry and to the other people that noted the JavaScript error (@Tim, @Zach Echlin, @Jeremy, @Pedants R. Us, Randy, @Wilhelm Fitzpatrick with a nice bullet-point explanation): I apologize for that, I should have caught that easily being a JavaScript nut myself, but somehow I missed it. I’ve corrected it and linked to @Dylan Parry’s comment.

@Mats Ahlqvist: I can’t tell if you’re being funny or serious.

@Brent: I see what you’re saying, and yes, there should’ve been some sort of mention regarding search engines like Altavista, Yahoo!, Hotbot, heck even MSN search, which did help us find stuff on the internet.

@Raelifin: Alright, so I’m not the only geek thinking about establishing standards because of this shift to the cloud. “Interoperability” within web apps, which sort of realizes itself now as public API’s, is the word I’m looking for. Now we just need a singular/standardized API specifications. Your comment just inspired me with like 5 article topics right there. :)

@Mark Alves: I couldn’t help but laugh after having to scroll up and see what you mean.

markwill Nov 16 2009

hi all,
ok where are the world famous first homecomputers like: atari, c64 or sinclair? or the first OS eg windows groups 3.11. ?greets markwill

Huh. I don’t mean to make a political condemnation here but why would you put up a picture of Ron Paul when Obama was clearly the one who really made it clear that the internet is an effective campaign tool? Sure, Ron Paul made a massive amount of money on one day, but Obama made literally hundreds of millions throughout the campaign and also recruited thousands of contributors in many different states. Sure, the internet had Ron Paul fever for quite some time but Obama fever was FAR mode ubiquitous and widespread and even spread to other countries, far more so than Ron Paul did.

Why does the AOL picture have pico/pine running under Motif instead of the AOL or Q-Link client?

No mention of the fact that ARPANET came from a military cold-war era project (DARPANET) to develop a communications network that could survive a nuclear war. This is why the ‘net’ approach was chosen. In the first diagram on the page the Pentagon is even one of the nodes…

Jonathan Nov 16 2009

You left out BITnet. I had thought that the portals with CERN and Arpa and others were a big deal in pulling the www together. No?

Didn’t know about MUD. Played single player, text-based Adventure (never got through the crack in the rock). We played Al Alamein, on a board, with dice, and talked about figuring out a way to have each of us in a tank, on the computer…

TRR - Justin Nov 16 2009

Thank you. The World needs this article.

Internet for all, Internet forever.

go@seo Nov 16 2009

i miss a MIRC pic… , but well, super impressive post :)

jansegers Nov 16 2009

There seems to be some discussion about the very first twitter message… I’m quite sure I’ve already heart an other version of it…

Shaymein Nov 16 2009

Great interview from NPR Talk of the Nation about the Arpanet:

david Nov 16 2009

Do you mean Al Gore didn’t invent it? how preposterous!

Tommy Nov 16 2009

Very cool post :) I’m surprised to see how early it all began.

Louis Nov 16 2009

Napoleon Dynamite invented the modem… That really made me laugh.

Great article.

Reinier Post Nov 16 2009

Yes, the Altavista and Lycos search engines made full-text searching the predominant way of finding information on the Web before Google existed. So a correction is required there.

Yahoo! wasn’t a search engine but a manually created directory.

Danny Pryor Nov 16 2009

Excellent timeline, and one that should help shed light on the evolution of this extraordinary technological revolution. Thanks!

Jon Spooner Nov 16 2009

you kinda glossed over a whole segment of development of the web! AltaVista was the GREATEST engine for a while and what about Lycos To 5% of the Web?

Also I think the first animated GIF was used by

Also the first social media groups were founded around places like the Well, East Coast Hang Out and others!

kelvinwebdesigner Nov 16 2009

Nice article Cameron. I think web application framework development will be one of the things we gonna talk a lot in a while. The fact that we stopping thinking about “web pages” to “web application”, its for, the biggest gain. The future will depend of course the community, specially open sources community, in sharing, creating, and most important the relationship that we will have between different communities.

It was my understanding that the concept of the Internet was conceived to keep communication links alive in case of war or disaster….a military type application, usage at educational institutions….then commercial/consumer usage.

No mention here os compuserve, Lex-Nex and other information archives.

Tobbi Nov 16 2009

Awesome chronicle.

lsinrc Nov 16 2009

I would add Compuserve:
CompuServe, (CompuServe Information Service, also known by its acronym CIS), was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of information services such as AOL…

Asker Nov 16 2009

Hey really really enjoyed this article .Thanks so much Cameron

Great post! I remember the SETI project … I was one of the many people who downloaded the software and joined in the fun when it was first announced. :D

Thanks for the informative post, I’m glad to find one not proclaiming that the internet turned 40 this year.

Mistakes and omissions are however inevitable, but good work.

needs more al gore

Nekalit Nov 16 2009

This is really not a chronicle of the web without a reference to Yahoo or Altavista. It’s like an article about the previous presidents of the United States, and leaving off George Washington.

Jen B Nov 16 2009

Very cool article, but you forgot to give credit to Al Gore.

Joey Bubbles Nov 16 2009

Where can I purchase some of this internet?

james kirk Nov 16 2009

huh i was in the net with my mobile phone in 2006.
so i was the first one :-P

James Nov 16 2009

Does anyone remember that Telex had store-and-forward messaging, essentially indistinguishable from packet switched email, in the 1950s?

BCmoney Nov 16 2009

Very nice summary… should include Nova Spivack’s now infamous slide on the evolution of the Web in the “Future Directions” section at the end…

My guess is he’s about right on Semantic Web finally living up to (at least) some of its original promises and providing a linked data graph serialization format for the World’s data (although there will surely be MANY more hurdles until this is a reality, but expect it sometime in the coming decade)…

After that we will have more complete integration of all forms of entertainment into/onto the web (we’re almost there already), followed shortly by integration of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality into the Web experience (especially look for gestural, voice-activated and then thought-based navigation of information).

How much of this Apple 1987 prediction has already come true?

Finally when “they” try to chip us (whoever they are, and if they indeed exist, today or in the future) many will be presented with the opportunity to form a symbiosis with the technology we’ve created. There will become two races those who are pure-human and those who are androgenous “meta-beings” who (due to their immortality) will eventually represent humanity in interstellar travel while regular humans are stuck on this rock to lead a simple life for as long as it keeps turning (let’s hope this is still an option at least).

NASA to develop interstellar “space internet” network (linking planets, galaxies):,news-29716.html

Peter Nov 16 2009

No mention of HYTELNET – the first hypertext index to Internet resources, compiled in 1990:

OnTheTopOfLife Nov 16 2009

Great sourcing and specification, i am amazed over what have happend in the last years with the iPhone and, have had internet since 1995, now i try to meet the user friendly mature services. What´s next? Its good for the humans and all the worlds connections. I have a great social exchange of it on a level i earn.


Randy Nov 16 2009

this is rather inaccurate

Gerardo Javier Gálvez Arellano Nov 16 2009

We are going to have a global fiber optics network and improvements in hardware; and we are going to see what real broadband is all about! Downloading even the more complex and sophisticated Web sites with all kinds of bells and whistles will be instantly (without the least delay). The entire human knowledge will be available and at our fingertips for everybody around the world to pick up free of charge for the most part or at an affordable level. We are going to get TV and radio through Internet. Communications will be perfect and cheap around the world and (when the times comes) beyond! Telephones will use digital technology and will be cheap (much, much less costly) than they are today. We are going to use photons (for the most part) and not electrons. Consumption of energy will be minimal in relations to computers and Internet. And, one day we will have creation of “images” in three dimensions. This is what I foresee (or who knows may be foreknow) for the future of computers and Internet. This is what at this moment comes to my mind. This is what I anticipate. There are very probably others points to consider that do not come to my mind at this moment. All this, that I say, is for the most part (but not entirely) based on intuition.

Matt Roos Nov 16 2009

You forgot to add Kali , the first IPX -> TCP/IP emulator.

Ozzie Simmonds Nov 16 2009


This article was fantastic–may I just raise to minor points? Firstly, wasn’t IRC really the first peer-to-peer filesharing method? Secondly, just in point of fact, I believe Rep. Paul raised at least $6 million on the second big fund-raising day: “Ron Paul’s $6 Million Haul Makes History.”

Thank you for your time. I am posting this article to my Facebook, post-haste.

dglenn Nov 16 2009

Mats Ahlqvist, the difference between the Internet and the Web is that the Web is a service (okay, collection of services) and protocol, that uses the Internet as its communication medium. Similarly, Usenet is a service that uses the Internet as an underlying layer but formerly used UUCP as a lower layer (and for a while a glorified sneakernet for one important liink, IIRC), and inter-site email has used the Internet/ARPANET, UUCP, FidoNet, BITnet, CSnet, and others for its communication foundation. (And in turn, UUCP, while usually using dial-up, can also use the Internet or other LAN/MAN/WAN connection as a lower layer.)

So the Web is not the Internet, like the USPS is not the road system. The Web runs on the Internet, just like snailmail is trucked from Post Office to Post Office over highways, driven from the local PO out to neighbourhoods over surface streets, and walked door to door over sidewalks.

Also Need Nov 16 2009

Already mentioned:

All the other search engines:
and the difference between the “manual” and the robot based ones.

the GIF format

posco grubb Nov 16 2009

Many of the items after 1991 on this timeline belongs on a timeline of the World Wide Web, only one part of the Internet. This history would better reflect the history of the Internet by representing some of its other communication protocols.

What would really be interesting is seeing a plot of # of bytes transferred by each protocol (smtp, usenet, gopher, ftp, http(s), bittorrent…) against time in years. I guess no one has been collecting data on all that, but it would be interesting to see.

Also Need Nov 16 2009

And the history of Netscape vs Internet Explorer
Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Firefox

Also Need Nov 16 2009

Ok… I promise it’s the last one I make:

Worldcomm and its peers

Jason Nov 16 2009

Doesn’t mention .edu or their electronic mail share system that was the start of world-wide e-mail. It might be hard to put a specific time on it but to discuss the current events or the “Technology War” between Google and Microsoft that has become an “Internet War.”
Some of the key topics (not all):
Google becoming the first well-done search engine instead of a poor quality and/or fully sponsor-driven result engine started if off.
Both had satellite imagery but Google came out with Google Earth. Then Microsoft came out with directional images allow each position to be seen from a separate NESW perspective and Google followed with the street view.
Google launching Writerly which became Google Docs and Microsoft made Office Live, Office Share, and a few others in response.
Microsoft bought Hotmail to expand their e-mail systems and tried to buy Yahoo mainly for they recent merges and improvements on their search engine which combined with the other Yahoo services(e-mail, shopping, auctions, etc) could of turned the tables. And since Yahoo turned down the offer, they decided to launch Bing.
More could be said but hopefully you get the idea. Nov 16 2009

A lot donations for Obama were from bankers and they used old media to promote the Obama campaign.

Ron Paul supporters broke fundraiser records on the internet with individual small donations from military members and small businesses.

:-DJ.linux Nov 17 2009

Whats up with Apache web server not being in the history?? The adoption of the inernet followed the adoption of Apache server. It made the modern internet possible!

Jean Jour Nov 17 2009

One error, the protocol wars began in 1975 (maybe 74) with the debate over connection-oriented (ARPANET, X.25) vs datagram (CIGALE, IP) and are still going on.

To correct a misconception above, the ARPANET was built as a resource sharing network to reduce the cost of research. The designation DARPA came long after the ARPANET was created.

And for the naive comments above, in a very real sense Al Gore did invent the Internet at least for all of you who now use it.

Steve Nov 17 2009

Look closely at the 1977 ARPAnet map pictured at the top of this article and you can see boxes labeled FPS AP-120B and SPS-41 at ISI, SCRL, SRI, BBN (RCC), and Lincoln Lab. These are the half-rack-sized array processors connected to PDP-11 minicomputers that were required to digitize and compress speech for transmission in packets across the ARPAnet, starting in 1974, before IP existed. This technology blossomed as VoIP 30 years later when networks became fast enough and the processing was reduced to a few integrated circuits.

Chip Y Nov 17 2009

I registered about 3 years earlier than you cite the “beginning of .gov and .org”.

Nishit Nov 17 2009

I am surprised you have not mentioned bittorrent. One of the biggest revolution and till date one of the highest bandwidth-occupying protocol on internet.

Storm in a cup! Thanks.
One prediction from anyone about next development.
Where to from w2?


Erik van Erne, Milieunet Foundation Nov 17 2009

Thanks, but i really miss The Internet Campaign.

For the first time NGO’s organized worldwide action on Climate Change and working together in this:, TckTckTck, Avaaz, Greenpeace, WWF, Hopenhagen and many other local, regional, national or international organizations creating the biggest voice on the internet so far on one subject: climate change.

When People Lead. Leaders Should Follow and Sign the Deal in Copenhagen or should we say our Hopenhagen.

Juho Hartikainen Nov 17 2009

Really interesting stuff, many thanks for taking the time to work on this post! I think one protocol definitely worth noting here would be BitTorrent, though. After all, you have Napster and SETI@home there, but nothing specifically concerning P2P networking.

deleterium Nov 17 2009

Leave it to a Paultard to get so many things wrong.

Alex Kropf Nov 17 2009

It’s interesting to see all this “old” screen-design, things have changed so rapidly! And of course many important things miss in this short abstract – but again its briefness is also the advantage of this contribution.

Carlo Nov 17 2009

Cool article. Who would have thought that people were emailing each other in the 1970’s, and spam being a problem as early as then.

The Facebook is now just a Facebook.

Great! Absolutely! All facts in one weblog! So we stay in progress….

F.Roth Nov 17 2009

Isn’t it ridiculous to mention the iphone??
If you really mention the iPhone in an article about internet history, you should mention the BlackBerry first. That was a real new concept. What was the new concept in the iPhone …? Multitouch?

It would have been fun if the Article would have included the famous “Y2K” panic. This was the year that 2000 was suppose to make computer systems interpret 00 as 1900 messing up all the computing work. because it would calculate a negative numbers ie between 1 Jan 2000 and 31 Dec 1999 could be calculated as -100 years rather than 1 day. This was a major bug for the whole finance industry. The bug not only existed in computer software but it also existed in the firmware being used in the computer hardware. In general this bug threatened all the major industries including utilities, banking, manufacturing, telecom, airlines. All types of malfunction predictions where assumed; I made sure I went to Times Square that new year’s eve of 1999 just to be caught up in what everyone though it would become the biggest global computer malfunction ever. Didn’t happen though.

Webjohn01 Nov 17 2009

Hello Cameron!

I really admired this article it is because it tells the
story behind the Internet’s existence in our modern time.

Keep up the good work.

More thanks!

4ndyman Nov 17 2009

The future of the Internet? The Internet will develop its own worldwide economy (RIAA might have something to do with it) independent of any meatspace economy or national currency.

As cloud computing grows, CPUs will be reduced to a thumb drive, and public-access consoles — with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse — will become more available so you can carry your computer in your pocket and access it and the Internet just about anywhere.

Andrew Clegg Nov 17 2009

Err… If you read Tim BL’s intro to the WWW proposal, it says it was written in MacWord — not published in MacWorld, as stated here.

It was an internal document at CERN, I can’t imagine MacWorld’s readership being particularly interested in their staffing requirements etc…

Marko Tuominen Nov 17 2009

iPhone, BlackBerry? Where were forgotten SonyEricsson P800 and Nokia Communicator? Both on markets long time before iPhone, Communicator released in -96 and P800 in -02. P800 with internet, camera, mp3-player and touch screen where you could write with ‘pen’. So what is so revolutionary in iPhone?

lilatovcocktail Nov 17 2009

What fun this article was. Thanks for bringing this all together. A couple of thoughts:

1. Does Minitel have a place in this history? It’s not strictly speaking the internet, but it did play a big role in France’s (non)adoption of the internet.

2. I agree that Compuserve is a big omission.

3. I hadn’t realized how little time separated the launch of AOL and the launch of W3 protocols. In the late 90s I worked for a website that had a dual presence on AOL & the web, so we coded pages in both html and AOL’s Rainman. Even then it was possible to do so much more with W3 pages than with Rainman pages (which had small windows about 1/3 the size of a screen), but somehow I always thought of them as equally viable alternatives. Now I see that developmentally, AOL and W3 really come from 2 different generations of online communication.

David Nov 17 2009

ha! some article. it didn’t even mention al gore.

daniel Nov 17 2009

the “modern” emoticon?
Yes, perhaps it brought emoticons to widespread use, but don’t forget to give props to Ambrose Bierce and the Ur-Emoticon:

Brian Dear Nov 17 2009

The WELL was not the first online community. This timeline is wrong.

The first emoticons were on PLATO, years before 1982. The first chat rooms, instant messaging also were PLATO-based.

It is a shame that this page is being accepted as comprehensive and accurate. It is not.

mrcommenter Nov 17 2009

that is a pretty big nutshell, but it was a good job trying to explain what the internet is and where it came from

flo_stuttgart_germany Nov 17 2009


Shutdown of the Pirate Bay Tracker


Evolution of the BitTorrent protocol that makes trackers obsolete

tengb Nov 17 2009

Anyone heard about the grid?

“The Internet could soon be made obsolete. The scientists who pioneered it have now built a lightning-fast replacement capable of downloading entire feature films within seconds.”,2933,347212,00.html

One more thing you forgot Nov 17 2009


You also forgot to include the first online critiques.

i.e. – The first comment about someone spelling something wrong, or someone having information that may have been created by a human.

The tone of these went something like “you’re such an idiot, you can’t even spell”

For further examples of the condescending snarkiness – see examples above ^^^^^^^^^^^.


Great Article!

Skype was not the first VoIP software. The first one was introduced by Vocaltec in 1995.


freeasfreedom Nov 18 2009

I think that opensource movement should also be mentioned, not just for apache…

Locke Milholland Nov 18 2009

Great post. I’d like to see the “2 seconds later” history, i.e. how each milestone was exploited for adult content 2 seconds later.

Moirakow Nov 18 2009

Well done! Sharpn´extensive, clearly expressed.

Just wander what did “on the go” -technology and related services had to do with this?
SMS (before smartphones), internetcafés, laptops, WiFi, propotional price cut of the gear?
Not to mention about the national investments in schooling and infrastructure, venture capital, Palo Alto, loose money, war and pornography…

Giuliano Nov 18 2009

Very interesting reading, but the article is missing at least Netscape and Firefox. It’s a big forgetfulness since just a few days ago (November the 11th) Firefox got its 5th anniversary.

>> The first “Internet election” took place in 2008 with the U.S. Presidential election.

he idea of having electronic voting in Estonia originated in early 2001 and quickly gained popularity among heads of the then proactively “e-minded” coalition government of the small northeastern European country. The realization of the project came in the October 2005 local elections when Estonia became the first country to have legally binding general elections using the Internet as a means of casting the vote. The system withstood the test of reality and was declared a success by the Estonian election officials. The 2007 parliamentary elections followed with second successful use of Internet voting

Nicolas Durand Nov 18 2009

Wow, email was invented in 1973! Amazing! Thank you!

Marc D Nov 18 2009

I believe that if the point is to identify key moments (and I agree with the posts around iPhone, should have been Blackberry or at least Nokia Navigator) the first search “engine” I used was ARCHIE, which originally became available in 1990, beating both Lycos and Alta-Vista by 5 years!

Gandalf Parker Nov 18 2009

People PLEASE stop the AL GORE cracks!
He never said that. Check or Wikipedia. Do not be an internet sheep and help to spread yet another urban legend (or at least dont do it seriously).

Its not as funny as you think if you know the story. You might surprise yourself in discovering that his ACTUAL claim about his actions on Internet are fairly well deserved. I know I was.

kasule francis Nov 18 2009

I never knew that the whole internet developed practically in my life time ,thats a suprise.The internet now days is a very powerfull tool and its power is still growing, However the future of the internet is threatened by goverments who are increasingly monitoring and trying very had to control it.In my view the internet is our domain and not that of goverments and so for it to develop and give us all the dreams that its founders envisioned ,we should as much as possible continue to fight for its freedom,by making it impossible for any single body to be able to control it.

Samuel Mann Nov 18 2009

Great work Cameron. You might enjoy my longer timeline, tracing the history of computing along with the artistic representation of computing [Link].

Lori Laurent Smith Nov 18 2009

One more ‘critical’ addition to the History of the Internet is the Apache server. It’s the most popular HTTP server on the web:

Where’s it going? The semantic web that Tim Berners-Lee expressed as, “I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web’, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines.”

Mike Jones Nov 18 2009

May it should be pointed out that Microsoft didn’t invent the first webmail service, HoTMaiL. They just bought it years later.

PuReWebDev Nov 18 2009

I’ve heard the story about the creation of the internet before, but I like your version of it. Much cooler.

Ramstead Nov 19 2009

Erm, it was actually me and Richard Branston that invented all of this…thanks.

Nicole Nov 19 2009

Great post but there are some mistakes that needs correction; like info about Gopher and Usenet.

What a phenomenal article. I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.

e11world Nov 19 2009

I thought the US Military Defense system created the internet (the way you connect your wires) to be able to transfer information between their base at different places??
Very well written article though.

cool post.
I used to use Altavista back in the 90s for search.

So, when did the first porn site go up? And what was it?

Enrique Nov 20 2009

Cameron, this was a great work and I thank you a lot. It impressed me as much as the first time at school when I read the Evolution theory: it’s made my… made up my mind! In spite of some lacks or chronological errors, punctually appointed by some, you gave us a whole idea of the very new and fast development of Internet-the Web of what I’m sure millions of us ignore-d. Thanks again, guy! Kiss Kike from Italy.

Terost Nov 21 2009

I thought CompuServe was before AOL. Back in the mid 1980’s, I connected to CompuServe with a teletype printer with built in 300 baud modem.

dian eko Nov 21 2009

wow…amazing. i can learn anything from this website. so many knowledge as before i don’t know.

“UNIX” did NOT influenced Linux AND FreeBSD… FreeBSD (and NetBSD) began from BSD OS code that was evolving since 70-ties, also first working TCP/IP was in BSD. You should review your claims because there are more errors in your story as others pointed out.

very interesting article. I like where Google’s headed with the Chrome browser,operating system and SPDY protocol.
we’ll see..

guest Nov 22 2009

A thoroughly interesting and very accessible history…

…but, in all seriousness? Amid all the ‘firsts’ and ‘revolutions’ in that history, there’s not a single mention of porn.

Tepport Nov 23 2009

Great stuff that brings back many memories of watching the last 15-20 years unfold in the technology world. It would have been great to see this include the number of hosts and web sites by year also. It is hard to find those type of numbers.

Felix (not the cat) Nov 23 2009

excellent travelling in a time befor the world flattened – unfortunatley a bit US-centric, at least some European universities (eg.ETH Zurich HTML; http://…)contributed milestones in the developement….

Nice article — I like having the illustrations. In the 90’s the librarians were teaching classes at our university on using the school’s gopher pages. We got to throw around such great terms as Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Lynx. I think I only recently threw away the outlines I wrote for teaching some of this. Should have kept them as history!

Kaspar Nov 23 2009

The first internet election took place in Estonia on October 2005.

Vijay Anand Nov 23 2009

Great. But you missed when and how GMail made Yahoo and Others to increase the free space

Michael Nov 23 2009

What you here read is pure US Propaganda. The future of internet is in whole asia. 500 Million chinese ppl are coming the next years online – they change all …

We buy chinese, japanese, taiwan or corean TFT’s, PC stuff and other electronic products. In future we use also their software and web ideas for a big mass.

Paolo Nov 24 2009

Excelente linea del tiempo … cuanta nostalgia traes a nuestars mentes con esta recopilación.


Ace Brickman Nov 24 2009

All on one page too… Thanks!

Hidayath Nov 25 2009

It seems, Cameron Chapman is a nice historian

Ganesh Nov 26 2009

I had the fortune of listening to Vint Cerf – the father of TCP/IP. Love the fact that these guys are still so excited when they talk about new breakthroughs…SPDY is one thing which is worth a watch and is going to revolutionize the Internet further.

I was born 10 years or so after the idea of whats now known as internet so.. most of this stuff tho, I knew way back… and SETI@Home well 1999 sounds about right, and if it came earlier, I think it really wasn’t open to mass public cause of testing… so thats my take on that issue…

Elias Lostrom Nov 27 2009

This is very interesting but didn’t see any mention of ftp.

michael Nov 27 2009

I used BRUNO to search for info in the mid 1990’s What happened to BRUNO??

Robert Nov 28 2009

Very nice rough draft, but I do believe you could use some better date checking. As well a lot of the main stream ‘1st’s’ you list were not the first and I think it might be worth checking into for accuracy sake. A lot of things here happened a lot earlier then they are given credit :-)

Evil Taco Nov 30 2009

Google didn’t start the cloud thing, or even popularize it, but I do think that’s where we’re headed, in terms of internet technology. I think we’ll be going to the next logical step, though, and instead of just sharing programs and such, we’ll start sharing cpu cycles, like seti online already does, and the human genome project.

Ashely Adams Nov 30 2009

It is amazing the way the internet has developed over time..This article is a very educational read…Though every thing has its pros and cons, I am still very thankful to all the internet developers…The internet has become a medium to put forward the talent of many creative artists and designers…Thanks for posting this…

Eduardo Lucero Dec 02 2009

I am an engineer of year 1969 and have lived all the stages referred with great personal interest as much as professional and itself so surprised as in the beginning. Congratulations!

The concept of networking was by no means new in 1969; even as early as the Romans a network of roads that allowed the rapid movement of troops but also the faster interchange of information by messengers. During the Napoleontic and American Civil Wars there were various schemes developed to distribute messages over a network of communication lines, primarily along lines of sight between prominent locations.
[refs. ]

casey Dec 02 2009

Oops, you forgot 4chan.

Axorr Dec 02 2009

What about marking the dates for HTML revisions? Or the advent of XML?

What about the start of Flash content as well?

TobyMac Dec 04 2009

as for the future, someone finally invents a way for me to allow my fist to travel through my screen and slug the ass hole on the other side.

AOL Gore invented the internet!!!!1!eleven

Hey where the heck is AlGores name……..all this time I thought he invented the internet….I don`t even see his name mentioned….he said he invented it…so wasn`t I supposed to believe him…like Global warming?

Hamranhansenhansen Dec 05 2009

DonQ, the new concept in the iPhone in 2007 was a desktop Web browser that renders the exact same Web from a Mac or PC. Before the iPhone, there was a separate “Mobile Web” using Wireless Markup Language not HTML, and utilizing special “mobile stylesheets.” The iPhone ignored mobile stylesheets and WML and rendered the same view as a desktop browser. Since the iPhone, mobile Web development is now done in HTML5 instead of WML and there is no separate mobile Web ghetto.

Another innovation is the iPhone has no mouse or cursor and that has become the standard on mobiles now, and also zooming the page to the small screen. The first Web browser in 1990 ran on NeXT (the same kernel runs in iPhone) and had a mouse, cursor, and 1024×768 screen. So putting the full 2007 Web on a device with no mouse, no cursor, and only 480×320 was a big deal.

Blackberry is getting a desktop class Web browser next year, based on the open source browser engine from iPhone. Android already has the iPhone engine and so does Palm and Nokia and Chrome.

So, where do the tubes come in?

charles Dec 08 2009

i this the play station portable should be on the list instead of the iPhone. it had a web brower in 2005

wordy Dec 08 2009

Netscape navigator was basically genesis for modern web browsing.

paul5 Dec 08 2009

Napoleon Dynamite helped invent the PC modem?

fwolf Dec 08 2009

Digg is getting mentioned, but Slashdot was not worthy a short note???

cu, w0lf.

Waasys Dec 08 2009

greate article, we’re lucky to see internet how it is today!

Mr Bed Dec 10 2009

The first letters to be sent over the internet were LOLLO crashLOGIN.

There was a time you could map the entire internet on a single sheet of paper. And I presume you could download its entire content on 1 drive.

Warren Dec 17 2009

Why the revisionist “Applelink led to AOL” rather than Quantum Link (Q-Link) being the forerunner?

chaos Dec 21 2009

I think you have your Unix/Linux relationship a little confused here.

Ducatiloyd Dec 21 2009

This is a very good article, Al Gore is wrong, It was me who created the Internet, I am Ducatiloyd Duke ot the Internet.

Kilroy Dec 22 2009

IRC is 21 years old? Wow… I never knew that. No wonder it feels so basic.

Mark Aaron Murnahan Dec 22 2009

This brings back so many memories. It also reminds me that I have been doing this Internet thing for about a hundred and some years … at least!

MMartins Dec 25 2009

Nice guideline through the History of the Internet. A major hi-cup is the lack of reference to Douglas Engelbart !Augmentation of the Human Intellect Project” and hos Mother of all demo’s in 1967.
Doug come out with the E-mail back then an he his the inventor of the e-mail.
Plus of the mouse and the Guider User Interface. And Hypermedia. And also in 1967 of the Video-conference (with the chat feature.
Just to name the issues underlies scores of inventions he come out with, meaning the supporting protocols, the supporting packet-switching technology (Doug played a large part in it, thou he later advocated different paths).
With no mention to this work this article is nice. Only that. It’s not that reliable.
Plus, further reading to have a reach & reachness on the history of the Internet can hardly avoid John Naughton’s A Brief History of the Future- the origins of the Internet, perhaps the best book written so far about the subject.

Season Greetings to all,
MMartins – Portugal

Gerald Dec 26 2009

AOL originated as Quantum Link

Steph Dec 28 2009

Comments are tl;dr sorry.

I lived through most of this timeline.. I ran a BBS in 82, used gopher in 93 and mosaic in 94, had a hotmail addy in 96. First website was built in 97 and I never looked back.

you wanna know where the internet is going now? As someone said before me, it’s hardware-based. People have poured money into better/faster/higher quality, and consumers show they’d rather watch crap vids on Youtube than buy blu-ray disks. They’d rather sort through blogs than read the Times. The future is low-budget user content read on phones. I advise everyone to start learning mobile app programming.

Hanny Dec 31 2009

This is brilliant. I didn’t realise the smiley was there before me! :-)

majid Jan 03 2010

very good.

Koska Jan 04 2010

This is brilliant. I didn’t realise the smiley was there before me! :-)

Ha ha, i am young again.

Carlo Jan 11 2010

That is one BIG nut! Great article, several holes, but what would the internet be without holes?

kassidy Jan 11 2010

this is a good informative article

Brand Jan 21 2010

Future? Internet in my minds:)
Great article! Thanks!

Verkkomainonta Feb 11 2010

Awesome post! There ate many possible next-best-things online. Google Wave perhaps? Well, the Street View is a bit hi-tech toy already, isn’t it? :o)

Logobird Mar 15 2010

Can’t believe that I haven’t stumbled across this article until now. Love it, brilliantly researched and written.
Six Revisions rocks!

Mediumal Mar 22 2010

As long as governments are kept at arms length and not allowed too much control over the internet; it will be safe and one of the few avenues left for ordinary people to exercise some influence over the direction of their own and that which human history takes.

My fear though is those with vested political and commercial interests will usurp this wonderful medium and seek to use it to stymie any real freedom and true democratic principles in favour of their ever increasing desire to manipulate us into perpetual servility.

I always get nervous when those in political authority start pontificating about the supposed “dangers” of the Internet.

We all know what’s likely to happen.

Really great article. Thanks for taking the time to put all this info together. I found the first spamming in 1979 to be quite comical with 600 people.

Anyways, good info.

IraQlife May 13 2010

I had the fortune of listening to Vint Cerf – the father of TCP/IP. Love the fact that these guys are still so excited when they talk about new breakthroughs

this is soo cool

billy wilkinson May 17 2010

this website is soo interesting thanks for making it mate!

joe buttlausky May 17 2010

This website is just like cheese on crackers! You know what i mean man! Its sick nasty! I enloyed looking at, radickoal!!!

Sylvia Lau-McDonald Jun 04 2010

great article, lots of memories. But – long before AOL there were GEnie and CompuServe as well as Prodigy….

Piilolinssit Jun 08 2010

kind a funny to think about it that we are seeing just a tip of a iceberg, in the long run nothing special has happened yet, what do you think about that perspective?

Mats Ahlqvist Jun 08 2010

Thank you Jacob Gube and dglenn for your comments on my comment regarding the future of our common interest. Yes, you are right – the web runs on the internet like the economy runs on the state. Do the web run with the daily bread on the internet? It might if economic interests gets their will. I know I’m spending my time for that to happen.
Already back in 1975 we were expecting optic fibres and a new tech based on light techno but something seems to slow down that process as up to now – I feel something is about to happen especially with telecommunications. And the funny thing is that economy changes with the techno changes. Is that because service is different from economy as to the power and control is out of the hands of the ordinary economic society. I find that reassuring.


Dick / Globe Research Jul 02 2010

I lived through all of the Internet development years and I do remember most of it. This is a great summary article. QUESTION:> When are we going to get BROADBAND supplied by our power utilities…at our power outlets in our homes?
I am ready for that and, I know that they are working on it!

Craig Sep 18 2010

Fantastic article giving a quick overview and timeline of the history of the internet, and the internet definitely is gathering more momentum as the time passes, and enjoyed the 1st webcams whole purpose to watch the coffee pot, its all about priorities :-)

Clarissa Sep 29 2010

Everyone needs to quit complaining!!! The way you put this together is cute with pictures and it’s easy to follow. I’m really not fit to make judgements on the accuracy of all of this because I’m only searching the history of the internet to finish this Project I’m doing in highschool to get my technology credit haha. But all the nerds need to shut up; Why don’t you make a better one if they think they’re so smart?? Stop hating on her work. Good job girl(:

Clarissa Sep 29 2010

***If you think YOU’RE so smart. My badddd(:

lol,,, al gore.. ya right!! i knew it!!!

Haywood Oct 12 2010

Anybody know where I can find pictures of the very first web pages? Something like the first Yahoo or AOL homepage?

Eduardo Oct 23 2010

This article brought me so many good memories. I posted it on my Facebook and I don’t usually do that. People needs to know these things and you did a good job. Thanks.

No mention of DOS, Windows, ridiculous.

Elwood Jan 01 2011

“No mention of DOS, Windows, ridiculous.”

Um. It’s the history of the Internet.

Social SUNY Jan 17 2011

Great article, surprised al gore wasn’t mentioned ;)

Wondering if this is the Dale Heatherington originally from Pennsylvania. contact me please if you are.

xmbie Jan 25 2011

i would use the first webcam to watch my coffee to. :D

Jerry Jan 30 2011

Jan 2011 Internet provides for revolutions…Tunisia, Egypt.

farid Jan 31 2011

omg haaay

farid Jan 31 2011

i hope the stuff here is accurate cuuz i’m doing a report using this article . . . . .

suddenly ron paul

Icebergslim Feb 14 2011

I think you can add the revolutions occurring around throughout the middle east to this article, seeing as how they’ve been organized via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Add “Internet takes down a dictator (or two)”

i never knew there was such a thing called [thefacebook]
thats cool

gracie Mar 22 2011

this is sooooo not a nutshell LMFAO

Doug Russell Apr 04 2011

The internet is likely the greatest invention in my 65 years,that being said, I believe we are at a pivotal stage where governmental controls versus virus/anti-virus sites form a tipping point in this great information highway. I pray that good supersedes evil.

googlegou May 05 2011

wooow !

Typo: “2003: MySpace becomes the most popular social network
Also in 2003, MySpace opens up its doors. It later grew to be the most popular social network at one time

(thought it has since been overtaken by Facebook).

Jacob Gube May 16 2011

@boo: Thanks. It’s been corrected.

MICHAEL OKLU May 28 2011


David, "On" since 82 Jun 10 2011

I have been using the internet since before I have memories I can access. I love this article. Yes some of the things weren’t the “first” or may have happened a slightly different way, but this doesn’t read like a nerd article. It reads like a general consumption article based on the advent of certain things rather than the invent of things. Yes there were many web-able phones before iphone and yes the blackberry was out there, but the iphone really was the one that made it seem like any phone user could utilize a “smartphone” capability. BB were for business people and the rich, not us common folk. (Just so we are clear, I have had mobile-able phones since 2001 when I even use to tether my phone to my laptop for service through earthlink) So rather than focusing on the inaccuracy that exist and will exist in any simplification of things, I applaud Cameron for making this work accessible to people like my wife who now has some understanding of where all this “stuff” came from and why I get so excited over new stuff coming out.

Thanks for putting the history of the internet in “potato head” language for me. I needed it for research on a different type of program for college and I’m not into some of the geeky information provided out there. Thanks again.

Linette Gadd Aug 13 2011

39. you are really a good webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a wonderful job on this topic!

Max Manus Aug 18 2011

Thank you. The World needs this article.

Internet for all, Internet forever.

really skipped over that BBS part
check out:

Alessandro Filippi Aug 21 2011

nice to fix the point in to the internet history tanhks to the peoples make internet for all of us free.

luchia Aug 22 2011

this is so great

luchia Aug 22 2011

i learn how to do evrytinhgs

Donald H. Aug 24 2011

That’s hilarious that the 1st webcam was to monitor the status of a coffee pot! I can’t believe that spam was born in 1978, Gary Thuerk should have been imprisoned for that!

Fahrenheit Aug 29 2011

To all the individuals who thinks it reflects their knowledge and intelligence from putting someone else down who clearly accomplished something that you haven’t, it doesn’t. It only reflects how immature you are. Thare nothing wrong with correcting a mistake or error, but its about how you present yourself.

Angie Aug 30 2011

Maganda ang article na ito.. interesante!

Shana Aug 31 2011

This is an amazing compilation-thanks so much. It really give a great overview-thanks for the pics as well!

metallica Sep 01 2011


Imagine_Works Sep 02 2011

The evolution of the internet has been extremely awesome thing happened over the years. It has made a person very self dependent and also changed the mindsets of people. The social networking has got people from the four corners together. Internet!!! the most important part of the generation of today.


fernando torres Sep 11 2011

Great info….. you should try to put important names down :)

abigail gentle Sep 14 2011

IT was good that they created the internet. if we did mot have the internet we would not have facebook,or stuff to do power points to do are work. Every body love the internet they stay on it all day they love it.

MAdekale Sep 23 2011


I’m a high school teacher and your article has provided a one stop shop, so to speak, of information for my new IT class!!! My kid were wowed!!! Great stuff!!

MAdekale is weird Sep 26 2011


I’m a high school teacher and your article has provided a one stop shop, so to speak, of information for my new IT class!!! My kid were wowed!!! Great stuff!!

Really Fabulous I got an good an idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

vivek Oct 06 2011

I am a first year student and this was very useful for my assignment………

franco demorgan Oct 06 2011

the notes on board made my day today.thks to writers.

Rupert Oct 07 2011

Al gore’s ontribution. Prior to Al Gore, the Internet was a closed and restricted to the United States military. The Internet was only completely opened to the whole world due to decisions made by Al Gore. He opened the internet to the whole world. LOTS OF stupid people in this world say thast Al gore lied about inventing the Internet. Mr. Al Gore made executive decisions given to him by President Mr. Clinton to make the Internet completely accessible to anyone with a personal computer or Macintosh all over the world. Many stupid in this world think that Mr. Al Gore’s contribution to the Internet is nothing. In fact, Mr Clinton had deliberately given Al Gore the power to make executive decisions whether the Internet should remain a preserve of American generals or make it accessible to the whole world.

soraya Oct 18 2011

nice articl
It’s neat to see where this thing started and what it’s come to

Candy smith Oct 20 2011

I really appriciated this article and I just about got all the information i need for my paper as you see I am doing a paper on internet and the future thanks alot.

bob the fail whale Oct 23 2011

this is cool because it is not 1000000 pages long it just sums up

Thanks info really helped

…hi..!.. very interesting topics.

The quadricorn Nov 18 2011

I used this for my speech on how the internet started.

J.Feelgood Dec 04 2011

Very well made and entertaining to read.

it is good to no the origin of internet

Shroomduke Mar 04 2013

Well done, very informative.

It would be more accurate to say that the Internet evolved. There are few things, if any, that are just invented, most are improvements of existing ideas, tools, etc.

I know some people are looking for the guy who started it all, the internet Horatio Alger story, that seems so popular to so many misinformed and confused souls.

Hernando Cadet May 30 2013

It is indeed an evolution that the internet constantly goes through, with so many new innovation, one must use the INTERNET it seems daily all day long, to stay up to date.

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