History of the Internet

birth of the internet



Cooke and Wheatstone patent it.

Why is this relevant?

  • Revolutionised human (tele)communications.
  • Morse Code a series of dots and dashes used to communicate between humans. This is not a million miles away from how computers communicate via (binary 0/1) data today. Although it is much slower!!

1858 - 1866

Allowed direct instantaneous communication across the atlantic.

Why is this relevant?

  • Today, cables connect all continents and are still a main hub of telecommunications.


Alexander Graham Bell Exhibits.

Why is this relevant?

  • Telephones exchanges provide the backbone of Internet connections today.
  • Modems provide Digital to Audio conversions to allow computers to connect over the telephone network.


First artificial earth satellite.

Why is this relevant?

  • The start of global telecommunications. Satellites play an important role in transmitting all sorts of data today.
  • In response, US forms the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish US lead in science and technology applicable to the military.

1962 - 1968

Why is this relevant?

  • As we will see later the Internet relies on packets to transfer data.
  • The origin is military : for utmost security in transferring information of networks (no single outage point).
  • Data is split into tiny packets that may take different routes to a destination.
  • Hard to eavesdrop on messages.
  • More than one route available — if one route goes down another may be followed.
  • Networks can withstand large scale destruction (Nuclear attack – This was the time of the Cold War).


ARPANET commissioned by DoD for research into networking

Why is this relevant?

  • First node at UCLA (Los Angeles) closely followed by nodes at Stanford Research Institute, UCSB (Santa Barbara) and U of Utah (4 Nodes).


  • 15 nodes (23 hosts) on ARPANET.
  • E-mail invented — a program to send messages across a distributed network.

    Why is this relevant?

    • E-mail is still the main way of inter-person communication on the Internet today.
    • We will study how to use and send E-mail shortly in this course.
    • You will make extensive use of E-mail for the rest of your life.


  • First public demonstration of ARPANET between 40 machines.
  • Internetworking Working Group (INWG) created to address need for establishing agreed upon protocols.

    Why is this relevant?

    • Telnet specification
    • Telnet is still a relevant means of inter-machine connection today.


  • First international connections to the ARPANET: University College of London (England) and Royal Radar Establishment (Norway)
  • Ethernet outlined — this how local networks are basically connected today.
  • Internet ideas started.
  • Gateway architecture sketched on back of envelope in hotel lobby in San Francisco. Gateways define how large networks (maybe of different architecture) can be connected together.
  • File Transfer protocol specified — how computers send and receive data.

1992 - 1992

  • World-Wide Web (WWW) released by CERN; Tim Berners-Lee developer.

    Why is relevant?

    • Originally developed to provide a distributed hypermedia system.
    • Easy access to any form of information anywhere in the world.
    • Initially non-graphic (this came later, MOSAIC, 1993).
    • Revolutionised modern communications and even our, way of life (?).
  • NSFNET backbone upgraded to T3 (44.736 Mbps). NSFNET traffic passes 1 trillion bytes/month and 10 billion packets/month
  • Start of JANET IP Service (JIPS) using TCP/IP within the UK academic network.
Multimedia changes the face of the Internet

  • Number of hosts breaks 1 Million. News groups 4,000
  • Internet Society (ISOC) is chartered.
  • First MBONE audio multicast (March) and video multicast (November).
  • The term “Surfing the Internet” is coined by Jean Armour Polly.


  • Number of Hosts 2 Million. 600 WWW sites.
  • InterNIC created by NSF to provide specific Internet services
    • directory and database services
    • registration services
    • information services
  • Business and Media really take notice of the Internet.
  • US White House and United Nations (UN) comes on-line.
  • Mosaic takes the Internet by storm.

    Why is this relevant?

    • User Friendly Graphical Front End to the World Wide Web.
    • Develops into Netscape — most popular WWW browser to date.
    • WWW proliferates at a 341,634


  • Number of Hosts 3 Million. 10,000 WWW sites. 10,000 News groups.
  • ARPANET/Internet celebrates 25th anniversary
  • Local communities begin to be wired up directly to the Internet (Lexington and Cambridge, Mass., USA)
  • US Senate and House provide information servers
  • Shopping malls, banks arrive on the Internet
    • A new way of life
    • You can now order pizza from the Hut online in the US.
    • First Virtual, the first cyberbank, open up for business
  • NSFNET traffic passes 10 trillion bytes/month
  • WWW edges out telnet to become 2nd most popular service on the Net (behind ftp-data) based on % of packets and bytes traffic distribution on NSFNET
  • UK’s HM Treasury on-line (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/)


  • 6.5 Million Hosts, 100,000 WWW Sites.
  • NSFNET reverts back to a research network. Main US backbone traffic now routed through interconnected network providers
  • WWW surpasses ftp-data in March as the service with greatest traffic on NSFNet based on packet count, and in April based on byte count
  • Traditional online dial-up systems (Compuserve, America Online, Prodigy) begin to provide Internet access
  • A number of Net related companies go public, with Netscape leading the pack.
  • Registration of domain names is no longer free.
  • Technologies of the Year: WWW, Search engines (WAIS development).
  • New WWW technologies Emerge Technologies
    • Mobile code (JAVA, JAVAscript, ActiveX),
    • Virtual environments (VRML),
    • Collaborative tools (CU-SeeMe)


  • 12.8 Million Hosts, 0.5 Million WWW Sites.
  • 50 Million Regular Internet Users
  • 1% World Population Online, 7% English Speaking World
  • Internet phones catch the attention of US telecommunication companies who ask the US Congress to ban the technology (which has been around for years)
  • The WWW browser war begins , fought primarily between Netscape and Microsoft, has rushed in a new age in software development, whereby new releases are made quarterly with the help of Internet users eager to test upcoming (beta) versions.


  • 90 Million Hosts, 68 Million WWW sites
  • 391 Million Regular Internet Users
  • 7% World Population Online, 34% English Speaking World
  • New Top Level Domians (TLD). Some TLDs Begining to run out? .com for example?
    • In November 2000, after extensive discussions throughout the global Internet community, the ICANN Board selected seven TLD proposals to be included in the first addition of a global TLD to the Internet since the 1980s. The selected TLDs are: .aero (for the air-transport industry), .biz (for businesses), .coop (for cooperatives), .info (for all uses), .museum (for museums), .name (for individuals), and .pro (for professions).

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