1969: Arpanet Connects
The story often goes that the Internet began as a means to maintain military command and control in the event of a nuclear war, and while that was surely in the back of everyone's mind, Arpanet was established mostly as a way to cut down travel time for computer scientist. Back in 1962, when Joseph Licklider first began thinking about computers talking to each other, a computer took up an entire room, and users had to schedule time on the few powerful computers available around the country.
Rather than moving around to different massive mainframes, the Arpa scientists wanted to link the computers so a researcher at one institution could do work on a computer on the other side of the country without physically being there. By October of 1969, the first electronic message was sent from UCLA to Stanford: only the letters 'l' and 'o' (for 'login') made it through before the system crashed (the first Web outage!), but it was enough to set in motion a system that would in a remarkably short time change the world.
1992: The Commercialization of the Network
For the next 23 years, the networks that succeeded Arpanet as the backbone of the Internet (like the National Science Foundation's NSFNet, which linked supercomputers via TCP/IP) remained institutions-only affairs, with commercial online services like Prodigy and Compuserve maintaining their own private dial-up networks and bulletin board services.
Then, in 1992, Congress passed the Scientific and Advanced Technology Act, opening up NSFNet to commercial connections. This essentially freed up the Internet from government control, and three years later, the National Science Foundation relaxed all regulations on the usage of its institutional networks. The day of the commercial Internet had begun, and to this day, the majority of the infrastructure of the Internet remains in commercial hands.
1993: The Rise of the Web
While U.S.Government institutions wrestled with the formation of the Internet's main infrastructure, what would be come the Internet As We Know It, the World Wide Web, was being developed in Europe. Over at CERN, a British scientist named Tim Berners-Lee was inventing the Internet.
As early as 1989, Berners-Lee toyed with the idea of web pages and hyperlinks, and within a year, he had created the first web browser, the first web server (serving the first web page, still archived here), and the foundations of HTML. Soon after, in October 1993, there were over 200 web servers operating worldwide, and the first popular graphical browser, Mosaic, to view them.
Unbelievable how in less than ten years, we went from the Web existing as an idea in Tim Berners-Lee's head to downloading MP3s for free. Just as the public began to get used to the idea of surfing websites for information, a college student named Shawn Fanning drastically changed how most people used the Internet. In 1999, Fanning released Napster, the first file sharing program to receive wide spread use. Overnight, college students around the nation used their high-speed connections to swap millions of songs, changing music and computers forever.
The spiritual descendants of Napster, iTunes and Bit Torrent continue to dominate how users interact with the Internet and consume media, legally and not-so-legally.
2007: The iPhone
Until 2007, using anything other than a computer to access the Internet was cumbersome, expensive and uncommon. Then came the iPhone. The iPhone of course wasn't the first phone that integrated email, or even the first phone that let users access the Web, but it was the first platform that provided a mobile Web experience that closely matched surfing on a computer. With well over 20 million iPhones sold worldwide, and competing platforms like Android, webOS and Blackberry further refining the browsing experience, surfing the Web on a phone is the rule, rather than the exception.
Wow, I hope that didn't make the Internet feel old! Besides, age is just a number, and other than getting a little gray around the temples, you can hardly tell. Plus, since 40 is the new 30 anyways--something tells me the Web still has plenty of surprises for us.
Wow! That would make Al Gore how old when he invented the internet?! lol
What? No mention of advances in broadband technology? Or wi-fi networks? Or the "cloud?" Certainly there are more major milestones than just these!
Which person in the picture is Algore?
Al Gore invented the algorithm too.
Forget about wi-fi, TCP, and all that jazz. Why is there no mention of internet pr0n?
It's a shame that you didn't actually use the Internet to research how the Internet came to be 40 years old.
For all of you Al Gore haters...
Helps clarify a few things.
i cannot believe the internet is 40 years old!!!!!!!
I had lunch with a pleasant and very energetic acoustical engineer with Bolt Beranek and Newman one afternoon in 1967, and unfortunately cannot even remember his name. He was enthusiastically describing a process by which data might be transmitted from computer to computer over telephone lines in a manner similar to transmitting data over RTTY teletype. Looking back, I wish I had bought stock in his company, or at least gotten his business card!
This email is a hand made product. Any variations of grammar and/or spelling merely enhance its natural beauty, and in no way are to be considered defects in material or craftsmanship.
Internet has been an amazing tool for everybody. It's amazing to see how it started as just a military source, and now, it's become in to something very useful...
Thanks for the blast from the past with that Napster screenshot. Can’t believe a program I spent hundreds of hours using looks so alien to me now. Wonder how I’ll reminisce about FaceBook in 20 years when my W-Eye-Max connection goes directly through my skull into my brain.