The brief History of Internet

Today we all take for granted that we should have instant access to the Internet regardless if we're at home or at work. We can even browse the web while on the go thanks to cell phones. It obviously hasn't been like this for ages and to help clarify the progress of the Internet we've written you a timeline with the most important things happening. Although the Internet only has a brief history it's a very interesting one - especially because things have happened so fast. What one thought was impossible some 20 years ago is now a reality for all web users.


1957 - It was this year that the USSR launched 'Sputnik', the first artificial earth satellite. The United States in reply formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the Department of Defense (DoD) to create US lead in science and technology applicable to the military.
Backbones: None - Hosts: None


1962 - The U.S. Air Force commissioned Rand Paul Baran, of the RAND Corporation (a government agency), to do a study on how it could maintain its control and command over its missiles and bombers, after a nuclear attack. It was to be a military research network that could survive a nuclear strike. It was decentralized so that if any locations in the U.S. were attacked, the military could still have control of nuclear arms for a counter-attack.

Baran's completed document explained the different ways to achieve this. His final proposal was a packet switched network - "Packet switching is the breaking down of data into datagrams or packets that are labeled to indicate the origin and the destination of the information and the forwarding of these packets from one computer to another computer until the information arrives at its final destination computer. This was crucial to the realization of a computer network. If packets are lost at any given point, the message can be resent by the originator."
Backbones: None - Hosts: None

1968 - ARPA awarded the ARPANET contract to BBN. BBN had chosen a Honeywell minicomputer as the base to build the switch on. In 1969 the actual, physical network was constructed linking four nodes: University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Utah, University of California at Los Angeles, and SRI (in Stanford. The network was wired together via 50 Kbps circuits.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET - Hosts: 4


1972 - Ray Tomlinson of BBN created the first e-mail program. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was renamed The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA) ARPANET was currently using the Network Control Protocol or NCP to transfer data, allowing communications between hosts running on the same network.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET - Hosts: 23

1973 - DARPA began development on the protocol which was later to be called TCP/IP. It was developed by a group headed by Vinton Cerf from Stanford and Bob Kahn from DARPA. This new protocol was to allow varied computer networks to interconnect and communicate with each other.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET - Hosts: 23+

1974 - It was in 1974 the term Internet was first used by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn in paper on Transmission Control Protocol.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET - Hosts: 23

1976 - Ethernet was developed by Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe which allowed coaxial cable to move data extremely fast. This was a crucial component to the development of LANs. The packet satellite project was then put to practical use and Atlantic packet Satellite network, SATNET was born. It was this network that linked the United States with Europe. But surprisingly it used INTELSAT satellites that were owned by a consortium of countries and not exclusively the United States government. It was in AT&T Bell Labs that UUCP (Unix-to-Unix CoPy) was developed and distributed with UNIX one year later. The Department of Defense began to experiment with the TCP/IP protocol and soon decided to require it for use on ARPANET.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 111+

1979 - USENET (the decentralized news group network) was developed by Steve Bellovin, a graduate student at University of North Carolina along with other programmers Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. It was based on UUCP. The Creation of BITNET, by IBM, "Because its Time Network", introduced the "store and forward" network. It was used for email and listservs.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 111+


1981 - National Science Foundation created backbone called CSNET 56 Kbps network for institutions without access to ARPANET. Vinton Cerf came up with a plan for an inter-network connection between CSNET and the ARPANET.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 21

1983 - This year saw the creation of Internet Activities Board (IAB). On January 1st, every machine connected to ARPANET had to use TCP/IP. NCP was replaced entirely and TCP/IP became the core Internet protocol. The University of Wisconsin created Domain Name System (DNS). This allowed packets to be directed to a domain name, which would be translated by the server database into the corresponding IP number. This made it much easier for people to access other servers, as there was no need to remember numbers.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 562 Hosts: 111+

1984 - The ARPANET was divided into two networks and the Department of Defense continued to support both networks. The networks were ARPANET and MILNET. ARPANET was to support the advanced research component, and MILNET was to serve the needs of the military. MCI was given the contract to upgrade to CSNET. New circuits would be T1 lines, 1.5 Mbps which is twenty-five times faster than the old 56 Kbps lines. IBM was to provide advanced routers and Merit to manage the network. New network was to be called NSFNET (National Science Foundation Network), and old lines were to remain called CSNET.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 1024

1985 - The National Science Foundation began deploying its new T1 lines, which were finished by 1988.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, 1.544Mbps (T1) NSFNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 1961

1986 - IETF or The Internet Engineering Task Force was developed to serve as a forum for technical coordination by contractors for DARPA working on ARPANET, US Defense Data Network (DDN), and the Internet core gateway system.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, 1.544Mbps (T1) NSFNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 2308

1987 - BITNET and CSNET were merged to form the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN), another work of the National Science Foundation.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, 1.544Mbps (T1) NSFNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 28,174

1988 - Soon after the completion of the T1 NSFNET backbone, traffic increased so quickly that they had to immediately start upgrading the network again.
Backbones: 50Kbps ARPANET, 56Kbps CSNET, 1.544Mbps (T1) NSFNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 56,000


1990 - IBM, Merit and MCI formed a non-profit corporation called ANS, Advanced Network & Services. This was formed to conduct research into high speed networking. It soon came up with the idea of the T3, a 45 Mbps line. NSF immediately adopted the new network and by the end of 1991 all of its sites were connected by this new backbone. While the T3 lines were being constructed, the ARPANET was disbanded by the Department of Defense and replaced it by the NSFNET backbone. The original 50Kbs lines of ARPANET were taken out of service. Tim Berners-Lee and CERN in Geneva implemented a hypertext system to provide efficient information access to the members of the international high-energy physics community.
Backbones: 56Kbps CSNET, 1.544Mbps (T1) NSFNET, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 313,000

1991 - CSNET (which consisted of 56Kbps lines) was discontinued after fulfilling its important early role in the provision of academic networking service. A key feature of CREN is that its operational costs are fully met through dues paid by its member organizations. The NSF established a new network, named NREN, the National Research and Education Network. The objective of this network was to conduct high speed networking research. It was not to be used as a commercial network, nor was it to be used to send a lot of the data that the Internet now transfers.
Backbones: Partial 45Mbps (T3) NSFNET, a few private backbones, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 617,000

1992 - In this year the Internet Society was chartered. World-Wide Web was released by CERN. NSFNET backbone was upgraded to T3 (44.736Mbps)
Backbones: 45Mbps (T3) NSFNET, private interconnected backbones consisting mainly of 56Kbps, 1.544Mbps, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 1,136,000

1993 - The InterNIC was created by NSF to provide specific Internet services: directory and database services (by AT&T), registration services (by Network Solutions Inc.), and information services (by General Atomics/CERFnet). Marc Andreessen and NCSA and the University of Illinois developed a graphical user interface to the WWW, called "Mosaic for X". Search engine Lycos was created, as a university project.
Backbones: 45Mbps (T3) NSFNET, private interconnected backbones consisting mainly of 56Kbps, 1.544Mbps, and 45Mpbs lines, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 2,056,000

1994 - This year saw no major changes to the physical network. Growth was the most important thing that happened. Many new networks were added to the NSF backbone. Hundreds of thousands of new hosts were added to the INTERNET during this time period. Pizza Hut offers pizza ordering on its Web page. First Virtual, the first cyberbank, opens. ATM (Asynchronous Transmission Mode, 145Mbps) backbone is installed on NSFNET. WebCrawler, the first full-text Search Engine was created.
Backbones: 145Mbps (ATM) NSFNET, private interconnected backbones consisting mainly of 56Kbps, 1.544Mbps, and 45Mpbs lines, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 3,864,000

1995 - The National Science Foundation discontinued direct access to the NSF backbone from April 30, 1995. The National Science Foundation contracted with four companies that would be providers of access to the NSF backbone (Merit). These companies would then sell connections to groups, organizations, and companies. $50 annual fee is imposed on domains, excluding .edu and .gov domains which are still funded by the National Science Foundation. Industry leaders, at least at the time, Yahoo! and Altavista were founded.
Backbones: 145Mbps (ATM) NSFNET (now private), private interconnected backbones consisting mainly of 56Kbps, 1.544Mbps, 45Mpbs, 155Mpbs lines in construction, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: 6,642,000

1996 - Most Internet traffic is carried by backbones of independent ISPs, including MCI, AT&T, Sprint, UUNet, BBN planet, ANS, and more. Currently the Internet Society, the group that controls the INTERNET, is trying to figure out new TCP/IP to be able to have billions of addresses, rather than the limited system of today. The problem that has arisen is that it is not known how both the old and the new addressing systems will be able to work at the same time during a transition period.
Backbones: 145Mbps (ATM) NSFNET (now private), private interconnected backbones consisting mainly of 56Kbps, 1.544Mbps, 45Mpbs, and 155Mpbs lines, plus satellite and radio connections - Hosts: over 15,000,000, and growing rapidly


2000 – Despite a great deal of concern and hand-wringing over the probable effects of the Y2K software error on national and international computing systems, 2000 arrived with minimal disturbance and the software glitch caused very little disruption of services or Internet traffic. During 2000, the number of sites that comprise the Internet is estimated to exceed one billion web pages. February saw a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against major Internet sites including Yahoo, and CNN; these attacks were estimated to have cost the targeted companies approximately $1.7 billion in lost revenues. The month of March marks the beginning of the end for many Internet start-ups and the bursting of the “Internet bubble” in the financial world. Rumors circulate online that Microsoft has lost its antitrust lawsuit and has been ordered to split into two separate companies, prompting the largest single-day drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average ever recorded to that point in its history. The rumors prove false, but the role of the Internet in disseminating information and influencing financial trends has been established. The first legally binding instance of Internet voting in the U.S. takes place in Arizona during the Democratic Party primary election.

2001 – Australia passes the Digital Agenda Act; intended to provide copyright protections in the online marketplace, it inadvertently criminalizes the forwarding of email as a possible infringement on the author’s intellectual property rights under copyright law. Community colleges are allowed to register for .edu domain name addresses for the first time thanks to a transfer of control from VeriSign to Educause. The .biz and .info domains are opened to registrations in July of 2001. Microsoft settles with the government and is allowed to continue operations as a single business entity. Google began its rise to dominance with the hiring of its first corporate CEO in March, marking its entry into the expanding Internet marketplace; the company first turned a profit in 2001 and has done so in every year since then. The European Council signs and implements an international cybercrime treaty to allow prosecution of crimes committed via the Internet. The Taliban bans access to the Internet throughout the country of Afghanistan.

2002 – Napster becomes one of the first casualties of the crackdown on copyrighted material being exchanged via the Internet after losing a lawsuit to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Spain institutes new legislation requiring all online commercial websites to register with the government, resulting in hundreds of sites removing their online content in protest. DDoS attacks shut down eight of thirteen DNS root servers and prompt greater security and more redundancy on the part of government and private industrial entities. Online auction site eBay purchases PayPal, an Internet payment processing company, as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

2003 – VeriSign continues to manage the .com domains while surrendering control of the .org domains to the Public Interest Registry. Another major DDoS attack on January 25 shuts down five of the thirteen DNS root servers, this time caused by the SQL Slammer malware. It is followed later in the year by similar attacks by the MSBlast worm and the Sobig.F virus, both of which do significant financial damage to major Internet systems including banking, air traffic control and other public services organizations. Some large retailers begin charging state taxes on purchases made online and the European Union institutes a legal requirement that VAT payments be made on all digital download purchases. The RIAA sues 261 private individuals for infringement of copyright due to their alleged online sharing of music via peer-to-peer networking sites. Email spam begins to present problems for ISPs and bandwidth providers.

2004 – Social networking website Facebook is launched in February as a service for students at several prestigious Ivy League universities, but soon expands to allow registration from universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Google announces its initial public offering for shares of stock, propelling it to even greater success and expansion into the Internet marketplace. In response to what it deems excessive spamming, Verizon blocks email traffic from European ISPs to its U.S. network; this blockade continues through the early part of 2005 and prompts a class action lawsuit that is finally settled in 2006.

2005 – Pakistan loses Internet connectivity throughout most of the country due to a defective submarine cable. Affiliated with the European Union, the .eu domain name begins accepting registrations in December.

2006 – In October, Google announces its intent to acquire YouTube, a popular video hosting site. Later in the year Google announces that it will partner with British Sky Broadcasting to host an email service at domain name The country of Zimbabwe is cut off from the Internet after failing to make required payments to its satellite Internet connection provider. Twitter is launched in July and quickly gains popularity due to its short bursts of information, known as tweets.

2007 – Hulu is launched and provides access to popular television shows online thanks to a cooperative agreement between several major television networks. Despite the inclusion of commercial breaks on these television programs, the site quickly gains popularity as a way to catch up on missed shows online. The first iPhone is released and is credited with spurring the increase in mobile access to the Internet.

2008 – NASA launches a deep space communications spacecraft that transmits data using a model based on the structure of the Internet. Google announces on January 31 that its crawlers have processed over one trillion unique web pages, another milestone in the exponential growth of the Internet. For the first time, mobile devices are more often used to access the Internet than personal computers with 95 million mobile internet subscriptions in the U.S. alone.

2009 – After a hotly contested competition, actor Ashton Kutcher narrowly beats out CNN Breaking News to become the first to achieve one million followers on Twitter. Twitter made headlines later in the year when it was used by Iranian members to report on the election protests that took place in June; due to censorship, filtering and sporadic removal of Internet access in the country, Twitter was one of the few options available to protesters and reporters within the country.

2010 - Based on surveys conducted by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, the Internet has become the number one source for news in the United States compared to traditional forms of media, such as radio, television and print. For national and international news consumption, it is still somewhat equal between the Internet and television.

A Swedish-based organization launched Flattr, which is a microdonation platform allowing users to like Web sites and send money to content creators at the same time. Users need to pay a monthly fee, which is designated by members themselves, to use Flattr. Thus, monthly fees equal to a distributed number of donations to online content creators.

2011 - Google launched its own social networking platform, Google+, in June. Unlike other social networking sites, Google+ is integrated into Google's other services and brands, such as G-Mail, Google Buzz, Picasa Web Albums and Maps. Google+ allows users to chat via Messenger on mobile devices, create groups of contacts in Circles and start video chats through Hangouts. In December 2012, over 200 million people were using Google+ according to the official Google blog. To maintain censorship, the People's Republic of China and Iran have banned Google+ to operate in their respective Internet servers.

Similarly, headlines focused on the strong censorship of the Internet in China and Iran. Censorship is strongest during periods of political unrest in both China and Iran.

2012 - The FBI shut down some servers to remove the virus DNSChanger that affected many computer users by causing browsers to link to spam-filled Web sites in the past five years. The servers responsible for DNSChanger were shut down, which prevents infected users from gaining access to the Internet. As a backup, the FBI collaborated with an Internet anti-hacking organization to create a site for users to check if they are infected with DNSChanger after pulling the plug of the infected servers. In 2011, as a reaction to people's Internet connectivity issues, the FBI started "Operation Ghost Click" to find the cybercriminals responsible for the virus. The operation with the help of foreign law enforcement partners was a success that resulted in the arrest of six Estonian cybercriminals and seizure of the virus-producing servers.

Written 2013-01-15 (Updated 2016-10-10)
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Written by David Walsh

David Walsh is the editor in chief here at Web Hosting Search. Having been in the industry for many years now he knows pretty much everything about everything. At least that's what he keeps telling everyone at the office. So, don't hesitate to drop him a line  if you've got a question - david(a)

Share your thoughts

Nadine McCall,  28 May, 2014

This history was informative and interesting. I was born in 1954, so the history is fairly new, and I lived through most of the early beginnings of the internet.

Richelle ,  8 August, 2012

It was so nice to read and their are a lots of ideas that I have been found...thank you

Simon,  30 March, 2012

Great! You have a great site. The info is excellent here. btw, the RIAA have not done too well yet! 2003 suing sharers. I think brief net access suspension for a "song nicker"is the best way to stop my music getting stolen! Need a law for that.

Simon Jay Harper

maneged majianah,  10 March, 2012

i thank this is the answer in questioning of many student like me on how to use internet

Janina,  9 January, 2012

Good History ,. WIsh i Could do my Report

ella grace delos reyes,  20 December, 2011

i like the brief of the history of internet

COLINAREX@YAHOO.COM,  16 November, 2011


jeff,  16 June, 2011

what about the history of this generation?

Biwek Khadka,  12 December, 2010

wow! it is very useful to learn internet history... good place to learn internet history

Alexa,  22 November, 2010

I think that you should make it a little more detail and of course add more dates and talk about it more like how it started etc.

josh,  28 October, 2010

i think that this information is in the least way helpful you need to change just about all of it okay? thanks

Zonajohnz,  5 October, 2010

I think it's okay, good history. Wish it will be brief as I needed.

tom,  26 April, 2010


John Smith,  6 January, 2010

Well thats my coursework done lol.

Bennie Hurt,  4 January, 2010

Great historical facts about the Internet!
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CRYSTAL ALPUERTO,  17 November, 2009


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