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My History of Internet

This is MY history of the Internet. The items I chose as important are not necessarily items which others might choose. Some people may feel items have been unfairly left out. I have tried to make it simple and accurate. Everything here has happened during my lifetime. In fact, if you skip Tim Berners-Lee's birth, during my adult lifetime. I have seen the beginning and development of something as important (at least) as the printing press or agricultural revolution.

Two major trends that are obvious include many exclusive proprietary systems (Compuserve, Prodigy, GEnie) competing with a global standard that allowed many different systems to exchange information. Fortunately the global standards won. This fight is constantly being re-fought in different venues.

The other was the invention of a simple graphical user interface with Mosaic in 1993, combined with the connecting of different data sets  (hypertext). This was followed by an explosion of creative endeavors making the open system that was based on the Defense Department's ARPANET far outstrip the proprietary systems. However, there were already millions of users of global information exchange and email involved in the closed systems who quickly switched over.


Tim Berners-Lee is born. He is a computer scientist normally credited with inventing the World Wide Web.

1969: Compuserve is founded (as Compu-Serv Network, Inc.) as a timesharing service for their PDP-10 computer. It operated using a dial-up technology. By the 1970s they too were using packet switching technology.


ARPANET launches using the Network Control Protocol (NCP). Arpanet was created by ARPA, the Advanced Research and Projects Agency, so defense contractors and scientists could share their research more effectively. The problem was how scientists using different computers which required different terminals to connect to them, could all share information without requiring specialized terminals. This issue was avoided by Compuserve, because they ran on their own PDP servers.

Arpanet was the first major system to use packet switching technology, which allows data to be bundled into chunks and transferred over shared networks.


The Telnet (Telecommunications Network) protocol  was introduced on ARPANET. Telnet is a terminal emulation protocol developed in 1969.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) was introduced. FTP is used to exchange files between dissimilar systems.


the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was specified in detail. TCP replaced NCP and provided enhanced reliable communication services.

1979: CompuServe became the first Online Service Provider offering worldwide connectivity, and information sharing to consumers. In 1980 CompuServe was acquired by H&R Block and that cash infusion allowed it to expand rapidly. The service not only had discussion forums, but also email, though only within their network.

1981: The Internet Protocol (IP) (also known as IP version 4 [IPv4]) was specified in detail. IP provides addressing and routing functions for end-to-end delivery.

1982: The Defense Communications Agency (DCA) and ARPA established the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) as the TCP⁄IP protocol suite. This is the protocol currently used.


ARPANET switched from NCP to TCP⁄IP.


The Domain Name System (DNS) was introduced. DNS resolves domain names (such as www.steveshank.com) to IP addresses (such as


GEnie was founded and launched General Electric's consumer Information Services division. This system also provided consumers with forums, data exchange and email within their system. The charge was $5-$6 an hour for non-primetime use and $36 an hour for daytime use.

1990: Dec 25 Sir Tim John Berners-Lee implements the first successful http client server communications over the Internet. HTTP stands for "HyperText Transfer Protocol. Earlier that year he proposed that a "web" of nodes storing Hypertext pages could be viewed by "browsers" on  a network. He called this Web of pages the "WorldWideWeb" (one word). These nodes could use the existing Arpanet Internet and the nodes would be "websites". Hypertext refers to the technology of having links in pages which connect the information from one page to another page somewhere else. What Berners-Lee did, was merge the existing hypertext technology with the existing Internet.

He made two crucial changes to existing hypertext technology.

  1. He created unidirectional links. You could link to any other page without requiring any action from the page linked to.
  2. He created an open standard for Hypertext pages. Previously hypertext systems were proprietary.


Mosaic Browser developed by National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in late 1992 and released in 1993. This was the first graphical browser. The browser was written by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. This code was later used as the basis for both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

In April of 1993 CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to all and require no special royalty fees.


Netscape Navigator. Marc Andreessen launched the Netscape company and browser.

Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to maintain open and non-proprietary specifications for interoperable Web technologies. This is the organization that writes the standards which allow different browsers using different operating systems to utilize the web in a comparable fashion.

1993-1995: Many Internet search engines were developed to replace the list of all webservers which was maintained by Berners-Lee and hosted on the CERN webserver


Amazon Online Bookstore was founded by Jeffrey P. Bezos. It began service in 1995


Internet service providers (ISPs) began to offer Internet access to businesses and individuals.


Google search engine launched.

Date: December 2008

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