Ten great moments in Internet History

Most of us would never know that the 1957 launch of Sputnik would lead us to the Internet. Most of those reading, are probably already thinking. INCORRECT! However, it was the fear of the Soviets that led Dwight D. Eisenhower to develop ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) which would assemble of some of the greatest minds in the United States and eventually create the first internet. This teams first project was to put the first US Satellite into orbit and they accomplished the task in just 18 months. Afterward, ARPA turned its attention to the need for improved military communications in 1962, with a focus on computer networking. By 1968, ARPA brought a lot of its research contracts to the university level, pulling them from the private sector. Many breakthroughs occurred in this time period but none more than:

1. The Creation of the ARPANET


According to garykessler.net:
“Prior to the 1960s, what little computer communication existed comprised simple text and binary data, carried by the most common telecommunications network technology of the day; namely, circuit switching, the technology of the telephone networks for nearly a hundred years. Because most data traffic is burst in nature (i.e., most of the transmissions occur during a very short period of time), circuit switching results in highly inefficient use of network resources.”

In response to this problem, Leonard Kleinrock of MIT wrote the first paper (1961) on what would be called packet switching. Ironically and independently, Paul Baran from Rand Corporation, and Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury (from the National Physical Laboratory) independently wrote about similar concepts of packet switching not long after. PCMAG defined packet switching as:

“A network technology that breaks up a message into small packets for transmission. Unlike circuit switching, which requires the establishment of a dedicated point-to-point connection, each packet in a packet-switched network contains a destination address. Thus, all packets in a single message do not have to travel the same path. As traffic conditions change, they can be dynamically routed via different paths in the network, and they can even arrive out of order. The destination computer reassembles the packets into their proper sequence. Network protocols such as IP and IPX were designed for packet-based networks. “

At the time the biggest problem had been that computers could network under the mainframe method, but networks were unable to talk to each other. However, with the new ideas in place, ARPA was funded by the United States Department of Defense to connect the various research facilities together. After plans for two years, in September 1969 the first node of the ARPANET was put in place and UCLA, with the second only a month later at Stanford. By the end of the year there was four nodes in place across the US, and by 1973 the ARPANET reached Europe.The ARPANET had been born!

2. The Creation of TCP/IP

According to Wikipedia, by 1981 the number of hosts had grown to 213, with another host being added every 20 days. However, this growth would not have happened with out the work of two men, Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf.

In 1972, Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf demonstrated the first computer network of 40 computers at the International Computer Computing Conference in order to rally support of the ARPANET. However, as they promoted the growth they realized that there was some many different methods of networking that something would be needed to unify them. At the time, computers were using NCP (Network Control Protocol) that proved to be incapable of keeping up with the growth.

Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf began working on fixing this problem and Kahn is given credit for developing the TCP protocol. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Small sub-sections of the whole network would be able to talk to each other through a specialized computer that only forwarded packets (first called a gateway, and now called a router).
  • No portion of the network would be the single point of failure, or would be able to control the whole network.
  • Each piece of information sent through the network would be given a sequence number

However, TCP was deemed “overkill” in 1974 for the gateways at the time. In 1978, Cerf’s IP protocol was joined with Kahn’s to form TCP/IP. The new design would split protocols, the IP protocol would route packets and device-to-device communication, while the TCP would be for end-to-end host communication. Although their efforts did not truly begin to be appreciated until the explosive growth of the internet, one thing is for certain is that the internet would not be what it is today without their contribution.

3. The domain name system is created!

June 23, 1983: The domain name system is born.

In perhaps, one of the greatest additions to IP addresses, DNS was created. Could you image typing just to get to a website? One thing for sure is that the internet would not be what is today without DNS. No one would be fighting over three letter domains, or two letter for that matter, or I guess even one letter. Your grandmother would not even try to get online, because setting her favorite radio stations on her car stereo was a chore enough.

We have Paul Mockapetris, Craig Partridge, Jon Postel to thank for this major breakthrough. Together they created the domain naming system, replacing numerical Internet addresses with English-language “domains” .

On that June day 24 years ago,there was no cameras present when a DNS packet first crossed the network and elicited a response. Mockapetris reported that, “Nobody thought it was important.”

At that point in time there was only around 300 computers connected to the internet, and they were all “tech geeks” so the ip address did not really matter to them. However, had DNS not been created the internet would not have ever became what it is today.

4. The Day The World-Wide-Web Was Created

In the begining, Tim Berners Lee and Robert Cailliau, of CERN research lab in Geneva, created the world-wide-web. It was the 1990 Christmas present that keeps on giving.

According to the livinginternet.com this is the story of the web’s birth:

“In the fall of 1990, Berners-Lee took about a month to develop the first web browser on a NeXT computer, including an integrated editor that could create hypertext documents. He deployed the program on his and Cailliau’s computers, and they were both communicating with the world’s first web server at info.cern.ch on December 25, 1990

The first project was to put the CERN phone book and then Lee and Caillau, having connections to ARPANET through the EUnet, Lee posted a notice on the alt.hypertext newsgroup about where to download their web server and line mode browser, making it available around the world. Web servers started popping up around the globe almost immediately. An official Usenet 8 newsgroup called comp.infosystems.www was soon established to share info.

Berners-Lee then added support for the FTP protocol to the server, making a wide range of existing FTP directories and Usenet newsgroups immediately accessible through a web page. He also added a telnet server on info.cern.ch, making a simple line browser available to anyone with a telnet client. The first public demonstration of the web server was given at the Hypertext 91 conference. Development of this web server, which came to be called CERN httpd, would continue until July, 1996.”

5. The Creation of The Graphic Browser

March 15, 1993

Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina created a simply concept that once again basically went unnoticed. These grad students at the University of Illinois created the first graphical browser. The only change they made was to embed images in the text rather than having the images opened in a new window.

When this Mosaic browser made for X Windows became availabe for download, the impact it made was outstanding. Andreessen teamed up with Silicon Graphics’ Jim Clark to form Mosaic Communications Corporation–which later changed its name to Netscape. Microsoft licensed NCSA Mosaic code for use in Internet Explorer 1.0, starting the beginning of browser wars. Andreessen and Bina basically turned the web into a multimedia works of art, from just plain static text.

6. The Creation of the Search Engine

Search engines predated the web. Enough said. From before the beginning people wanted to organize their online experience. Just think about where the internet would be without search engines. The very first search engine was called Archie search engine and it was hosted and McGill University in 1990. From that point in time, search engines have obviously grown into empires. Quite possible the two greatest search engine moments were the creation of Yahoo and Google:


Ironically, the founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, met at Stanford University while working on a graduate project of how back links improve search results (so they invented Google bombing). They ended up building a data center in their dorm room to market the concept. The websites domain was originally google.stanford.edu, until the domain google.com was registered on September 15, 1997. By the end of 1998, Google incorporated, opening for business in the garage of a Silicon Valley home. The start-up venture raised $1.1 million and moved into offices in Palo Alto. It was not until 2003 that Google moved into the Googleplex. In Google’s ten-year history they have grown to nearly 20,000 employee, one of the largest U.S. companies, and one of the greatest websites in the world.


Not long before Google (1994), two other Stanford students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, posted a list of their favorite websites called, “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” By the end of that year they changed the name to: “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” or Yahoo for short.

Yahoo was the first attempt to catalog the Web; their goal was to list every website that mattered. They even placed tiny sunglasses marking sites the though were really cool. Once a manual directory became too exhausting they turned the website into a web portal, adding the search feature. However, Yahoo also added news, email, photo hosting, job listings and more. Although they have been surpassed by Google in terms of search, they still remain ranked the number one website in the world by Alexa.

7. The Dot Com Boom

Although the Dot Com Era ultimately led in a lot of shattered dreams, it was this “gold rush” that ultimately brought a lot of capital to be invested into the internet. The dot com era lasted from 1995-2001, if you reference back to the host chart provided earlier, the number of hosts were skyrocketing. The number of huge success stories were leading invested to throw their money are young entrepreneurs with virtually no business plan. CNET published an article about the 10 largest dot com flops. CNET explored different dot com’s that simply did not make it, MVP.Com failed with even the endorsement of Michael Jordan, John Elway, and Wayne Gretzky combined with a CBS advertising package. What is truly remarkable about this era was the financial investment. Although many investments ended in tears, this time frame ultimate poured tons of money, resources, and improvements into the internet.

8. Blogs, News, and the Circulation of Information

Blogs (Web Logs) started out as online diaries, one of the first known bloggers was Justin Hall who began personal blogging while at Swarthmore College. Hall viewed it as a diary and kept account of the personal happenings in his life. As time past, this idea caught on and blogging software was created. In 1998, Open Diary released their blogging software and many others soon followed suit.

It would be impossible to give credit all of those who have changed blogging, internet news, or the way information is shared online. However, there are two stories that have made huge impacts in this area:

Michael Barnes blogging about Hurricane Katrina:

“We’re on the 10th and 11th floor of a corporate high rise on Poydras Ave., right near St. Charles. We have generators and tons of food and water. It is 5 of us total. I am not sure how the Internet connection will be affected. I have a camera and my gun. …. Sustained winds are 175, gusts to 215. The real danger is not the wind, though, it’s the storm surge the wind will be pushing into the city from the Gulf through the lake. The city might never recover. Honestly, this thing could be biblical.”

This blog delivered a huge impact ast tens of thousands visited the blog each day, getting coverage that the news could simply not provide. However, what was even more influential was that blogging became more than just unsolicited opinions, it could serve as a valuable tool for understanding the human experience.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal online coverage (1998).

As the White House scandal was being killed in the press, The Drudge Report began to spread online the Monica Lewinsky story. For the first time, a website overtook the press calling traditional media sources online because they could not compete with the immediacy of the net. Some media sources actually went online completely and killed their print operations. Giving birth to online news.

9. Social Media, Social Bookmarking, and Social Networking

However, as the online news grew, so did peoples desire for the truth. Individuals got tired of the slants of different medias based upon the ownership of the organization. Thus gave birth to websites where people could share, and promote their ideas in an unedited fashion. Thus gave birth to the concept of social media news which would later give birth to ideas such as: Digg.com, StumbleUpon.com, and Reddit.com. However, social media can take on many other various forms including forums, blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, and video sharing. But where did this concept come from? Many give credit to Jennifer Ringley, who created the very first webcam show (1996) where she let millions of viewers take a look at all aspects of life. It is said that she started the entire online adult industry, the video sharing phenomenon, as well as reality television. It was not much later that six degrees was created as the first online contact website. Wikipedia stated that:

“SixDegrees.com was a social network service website that lasted from 1997 to 2001 and was based on the Web of Contacts model of social networking. It was named after the six degrees of separation concept and allowed users to list friends, family members and acquaintances both on the site and externally; external contacts were invited to join the site.”

From sixdegrees on, many have followed suit, here is a time line of the social networking websites that have emerged since that point in time.

10. Online Shopping and the Classifieds.

  • 1990: Tim Berners-Lee writes the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, using a NeXT computer.
  • 1992: J.H. Snider and Terra Ziporyn publish Future Shop: How New Technologies Will Change the Way We Shop and What We Buy. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0312063598.
  • 1994: Netscape releases the Navigator browser in October under the code name Mozilla. Pizza Hut offers pizza ordering on its Web page. The first online bank opens. Attempts to offer flower delivery and magazine subscriptions online. Adult materials also becomes commercially available, as do cars and bikes. Netscape 1.0 is introduced in late 1994 SSL encryption that made transactions secure.
  • 1995: Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com and the first commercial-free 24 hour, internet-only radio stations, Radio HK and NetRadio start broadcasting. Dell and Cisco begin to aggressively use Internet for commercial transactions. eBay is founded by computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as AuctionWeb.
  • 1998: Electronic postal stamps can be purchased and downloaded for printing from the Web.
  • 1999: Business.com sold for US $7.5 million to eCompanies, which was purchased in 1997 for US $150,000. The peer-to-peer filesharing software Napster launches.
  • 2000: The dot-com bust.
  • 2002: eBay acquires PayPal for $1.5 billion [1]. Niche retail companies CSN Stores and NetShops are founded with the concept of selling products through several targeted domains, rather than a central portal.
  • 2003: Amazon.com posts first yearly profit.
  • 2007: Business.com acquired by R.H. Donnelley for $345 million[2].
  • 2008: E-commerce sales projected to reach $204 billion, an increase of 17 percent over 2007[3].

Through the growth of websites like ebay and amazon, ecommerce websites have popped up everywhere. However one website has revolutionized the interent in its own way. Craigslist.

Craigslist was started (1995) as a side project in San Francisco, to allow users to share information about cultural events in the Bay Area. When Founder Craig Newmark started the domain Cnewmark.com, it rapidly grew into people were looking for apartments, and jobs as well.By 1997, Craig’s list became Craiglist.org, and now over 10 years later the website has grown to include over 450 local versions of Craigslist in 50 countries, and more than 25 million people visit them each month. Completely dominated the classified industry and even taking it away in some cases from local newspapers.


Perhaps, the most amazing aspect about the internet is that it is owned by basically everyone. Everyone can contribute, anyone can put up a website (In most countries). There is no possible way to have listed every contribution to the internet, however, we feel that these 10 moments or movements for that matter, absolutely changed the internet to make it into what it is today. However, at the end of the day it is a never ending world that could barely be defined, just by looking at its map one may reflect on its vast nature. What will you contribute to its growth?


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