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Internet Timeline


Beginning as a tool for a select group of engineers and scientists associated with academia or government and evolving rapidly into the World Wide Web open to anyone with a computer and a telephone connection, the Internet has transformed the way we conduct research, communicate, and make purchases ranging from groceries and airline tickets to the latest books and music or clothing and furniture. How we got from there to here on the information highway is the story of a host of individuals and breakthrough thinking.

  1962   Kleinrock thesis describes underlying principles of packet-switching technology

Leonard Kleinrock, a doctoral student at MIT, writes a thesis describing queuing networks and the underlying principles of what later becomes known as packet-switching technology.

  1962   ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office

J. C. R. Licklider becomes the first director of the Information Processing Techniques Office established by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later known as DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Licklider articulates the vision of a "galactic" computer network—a globally interconnected set of processing nodes through which anyone anywhere can access data and programs.

  1964   On Distributed Communications Networks

The RAND Corporation publishes a report, principally authored by Paul Baran, for the Pentagon called On Distributed Communications Networks. It describes a distributed radio communications network that could survive a nuclear first strike, in part by dividing messages into segments that would travel independently.

  1966   ARPANET project

Larry Roberts of MIT’s Lincoln Lab is hired to manage the ARPANET project. He works with the research community to develop specifications for the ARPA computer network, a packet-switched network with minicomputers acting as gateways for each node using a standard interface.

  1967   Packet switching

Donald Davies, of the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex, England, coins the term packet switching to describe the lab’s experimental data transmission.

  1968   Interface message processors

Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) wins a DARPA contract to develop the packet switches called interface message processors (IMPs).

  1969   DARPA deploys the IMPs

DARPA deploys the IMPs. Kleinrock, at the Network Measurement Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, receives the first IMP in September. BBN tests the "one-node" network. A month later the second IMP arrives at Stanford, where Doug Englebart manages the Network Information Center, providing storage for ARPANET documentation. Dave Evans and Ivan Sutherland, professors researching computer systems and graphics at the University of Utah, receive the third IMP, and the fourth goes to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where Glen Culler is conducting research on interactive computer graphics.

  1970   UNIX operating system

At Bell Labs, Dennis Ritchie and Kenneth Thompson complete the UNIX operating system, which gains a wide following among scientists.

  1970   Initial ARPANET host-to-host protocol

In December the Network Working Group (NWG), formed at UCLA by Steve Crocker, deploys the initial ARPANET host-to-host protocol, called the Network Control Protocol (NCP). The primary function of the NCP is to establish connections, break connections, switch connections, and control flow over the ARPANET, which grows at the rate of one new node per month.

  1972   First public demonstration of the new network technology

Robert Kahn at BBN, who is responsible for the ARPANET’s system design, organizes the first public demonstration of the new network technology at the International Conference on Computer Communications in Washington, D.C., linking 40 machines and a Terminal Interface Processor to the ARPANET.

  1972   First e-mail program

Ray Tomlinson at BBN writes the first e-mail program to send messages across the ARPANET. In sending the first message to himself to test it out, he uses the @ sign—the first time it appears in an e-mail address.

  1973   Paper describes basic design of the Internet and TCP

In September, Kahn and Vinton Cerf, an electrical engineer and head of the International Network Working Group, present a paper at the University of Sussex in England describing the basic design of the Internet and an open-architecture network, later known as TCP (transmission control protocol), that will allow networks to communicate with each other. The paper is published as "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection" in IEEE Transactions on Communications.

  1975   Initial testing of packet radio networks

Initial testing of packet radio networks takes place in the San Francisco area. The SATNET program is initiated in September with one Intelsat ground station in Etam, West Virginia, and another in Goonhilly Downs, England.

  1976   TCP/IP incorporated

At DARPA’s request, Bill Joy incorporates TCP/IP (internet protocol) in distributions of Berkeley Unix, initiating broad diffusion in the academic scientific research community.

  1977   Theorynet

Larry Landweber, of the University of Wisconsin, creates Theorynet, to link researchers for e-mail via commercial packet-switched networks like Telenet.

  1977   Demonstration of independent networks to communicate

Cerf and Kahn organize a demonstration of the ability of three independent networks to communicate with each other using TCP protocol. Packets are communicated from the University of Southern California across the ARPANET, the San Francisco Bay Packet Radio Net, and Atlantic SATNET to London and back.

  1979   Internet Configuration Control Board

DARPA establishes the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB) to help manage the DARPA Internet program. The ICCB acts as a sounding board for DARPA’s plans and ideas. Landweber convenes a meeting of computer researchers from universities, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and DARPA to explore creation of a "computer science research network" called CSNET.

  1979   USENET

USENET, a "poor man’s ARPANET," is created by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Belovin to share information via e-mail and message boards between Duke University and the University of North Carolina, using dial-up telephone lines and the UUCP protocols in the Berkeley UNIX distributions.

  1980   TCP/IP standard adopted

U.S. Department of Defense adopts the TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/internet protocol) suite as a standard.

  1981   NSF and DARPA establish ARPANET nodes

NSF and DARPA agree to establish ARPANET nodes at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Purdue University, the University of Delaware, BBN, and RAND Corporation to connect ARPANET to CSNET sites on a commercial network called Telenet using TCP/IP.

  1982   ARPANET hosts convert to new TCP/IP protocols

All hosts connected to ARPANET are required to convert to the new TCP/IP protocols by January 1, 1983. The interconnected TCP/IP networks are generally known as the Internet.

  1983   UNIX scientific workstation introduced

Sun Microsystems introduces its UNIX scientific workstation. TCP/IP, now known as the Internet protocol suite, is included, initiating broad diffusion of the Internet into the scientific and engineering research communities.

  1983   Internet Activities Advisory Board

The Internet Activities Advisory Board (later the Internet Activities Board, or IAB) replaces the ICCB. It organizes the research community into task forces on gateway algorithms, new end-to-end service, applications architecture and requirements, privacy, security, interoperability, robustness and survivability, autonomous systems, tactical interneting, and testing and evaluation. One of the task forces, soon known as "Internet Engineering," deals with the Internet’s operational needs.

  1983   The Internet

ARPANET, and all networks attached to it, officially adopts the TCP/IP networking protocol. From now on, all networks that use TCP/IP are collectively known as the Internet. The number of Internet sites and users grow exponentially.

  1984   Advent of Domain Name Service

The advent of Domain Name Service, developed by Paul Mockapetris and Craig Partridge, eases the identification and location of computers connected to ARPANET by linking unique IP numerical addresses to names with suffixes such as .mil, .com, .org, and .edu.

  1985   NSF links five supercomputer centers across the country

NSF links scientific researchers to five supercomputer centers across the country at Cornell University, University of California at San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and Princeton University. Like CSNET, NSFNET employs TCP/IP in a 56-kilobits-per-second backbone to connect them.

  1986   Internat Engineering Task Force expands

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) expands to reflect the growing importance of operations and the development of commercial TCP/IP products. It is an open informal international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers interested in the evolution of the Internet architecture and its smooth operation.

  1986   Senator Gore proposes new legislation for using fiber-optic technology

Senator Albert Gore, of Tennessee, proposes legislation calling for the interconnection of the supercomputers centers using fiber-optic technology. 

  1987   UUNET and PSINET are formed

UUNET is formed by Rick Adams and PSINET is formed by Bill Schrader to provide commercial Internet access. At DARPA's request, Dan Lynch organizes the first Interop conference for information purposes and to bring vendors together to test product interoperability.

  1987   High-speed national research network

NSF convenes the networking community in response to a request by Senator Gore to examine prospects for a high-speed national research network. Gordon Bell at NSF reports to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on a plan for the National Research and Education Network. Presidential Science Advisor Allan Bromley champions the high-performance computing and communications initiatives that eventually implement the networking plans.

  1987   Internet of administratively independent connected TCP/IP networks emerges

As the NSFNET backbone becomes saturated, NSF plans to increase capacity, supports the creation of regional networks, and initiates a program to connect academic institutions, which invest heavily in campus area networks. The Internet of administratively independent connected TCP/IP networks emerges.

  1988   NSFNET contract awarded

An NSFNET contract is awarded to the team of IBM and MCI, led by Merit Network, Inc. The initial 1.5-megabits-per-second NSFNET is placed in operation.

  1989   Interconnection of commercial and federal networks

The Federal Networking Council (FNC), program officer from cooperating agencies, give formal approval for interconnection of commercial and federal networks. The following year ARPANET is decommissioned.

  1991   World Wide Web software developed

CERN releases the World Wide Web software developed earlier by Tim Berners-Lee. Specifications for HTML (hypertext markup language), URL (uniform resource locator), and HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) launch a new era for content distribution.

At the University of Minnesota, a team of programmers led by Mark McCahill releases a point-and-click navigation tool, the "Gopher" document retrieval system, simplifying access to files over the Internet.

  1992   Internet Society is formed

The nonprofit Internet Society is formed to give the public information about the Internet and to support Internet standards, engineering, and management. The society later becomes home to a number of groups, including the IAB and IETF, and hold meetings around the world to promote diffusion of the Internet.

  1993   Distribution of a browser accelerates adoption of the web

Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, develop an easy-to-use graphical interface for the World Wide Web. Distribution of the "browser," NCSA Mosaic, accelerates adoption of the Web. The technology is eventually licensed to Microsoft as the basis for its initial Internet Explorer browser. In 1994 the team rewrites the browser, changing its name to Netscape. Later "browser wars" focus public attention on the emerging commercial Internet.

  1993   Network Solutions manages domain names

NSF solicits proposal to manage domain names for nonmilitary registrations and awards a 5-year agreement to Network Solutions, Inc.

  1995   NSFNET decommissioned

NSF decommissions the NSFNET.

  1996   Telecommunications Act of 1996

President Clinton signs the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  Among its provisions it gives schools and libraries access to state-of-the-art services and technologies at discounted rates.

  1998   Coordination of Internet domain names transitions from federal to private sector

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is chartered by the U.S. Department of Commerce to transition from the federal government to the private sector the coordination and assignment of Internet domain names, IP address numbers and various protocol parameters.


     World Wide Web
     Essay - Robert E. Kahn

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