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Brief History of the Internet

The Internet has its roots in the printing press, telegraph, Cold War, and numerous other technological advances and events. The invention of the transistor in 1947 is considered a seminal event in Internet History as transistors are a key component in virtually all electronics. The concept of “packet switching” was a milestone as well in that it set the stage for a more efficient and accurate means of transmitting data. The event that really got the ball rolling was the Soviet Launch of Sputnik in 1957 which prompted the U.S. creation of ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency). One of the early priorities was establishing a way for the U.S. military to maintain communications in the event of a nuclear war. One of the requirements was that it be decentralized so if one part was knocked out the network could still function. The ensuing development of the internet has been the result of cooperation between the government, industry, and academia.

Time Line of the Internet

  • 1947- The transistor is invented in Bell Laboratories.
  • 1957- Soviet Launch of Sputnik sparks the creation of ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency).
  • 1961- The first paper on "Packet Switching" (a more efficient way to transmit data over a network) is presented.
  • 1962- The Rand Corporation is commissioned by the military to study how it could maintain communications networks after a nuclear attack.  A key criterion is that it be decentralized so if cities are hit it will still operate.  A Packet Switching Network is recommended.
  • 1965- A computer at MIT is connected to a computer in California via dial-up, demonstrating the feasibility of wide area networking and the inadequacy of telephone circuitry.
  • 1968- DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) contracts with BBN (Bolt, Beranek & Newman) to create ARPAnet.
  • 1969- The first five “nodes” located at UCLA, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, U of Utah, and BBN are established and connected.
  • 1969- The first packets are sent from UCLA to Stanford trying to spell LOGIN.  The system crashes on the "G".
  • 1972- First email program created at BBN.
  • 1973- FTP (file transfer protocol) developed and published as RFC.
  • 1973- TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is developed as a universal standard in communication.
  • 1977- 111 hosts (computers with a unique IP address) on the internet.
  • 1983- TCP/IP protocol is officially adopted as the universal standard.
  • 1984- 1,000 hosts on the internet.
  • 1985- becomes the first registered domain.
  • 1987- 10,000 hosts on the Internet.
  • 1989- 100,000 hosts on the Internet
  • 1992- Congress "releases" the Internet into the commercial world.
  • 1993- Mosaic Web browser developed (later renamed Netscape).
  • 1995- Windows 95 released.
  • 1995- United States productivity explodes.
  • 1996- Browser wars begin with Internet Explorer and Netscape being the main players.
  • 1999- Browser wars declared over.
  • 1999- Microsoft declared a Monopoly by U.S. courts.
  • 2001- Dot-Com stock market bubble bursts.
  • 2002- Over 200 million hosts on the internet.

Information Sources

Brief Timeline of the Internet. 24 May 2007. Webopedia. 3 June 2007.

Hobbes Internet Timeline. 2006. Zakkon Group llc. 3 June 2007.
Romer, Paul M. “In the Beginning was the Transistor” Forbes. Dec 2 1996: 43-44.

Slater, William F. “Internet History and Growth”. Chicago Chapter of the Internet Society. September 2002.

Transistor. 17 May 2007. Wikipedia. 8 June 2007.

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