A history of the Internet

Posted by on Dec 17, 2011 in blog, copywriting, portfolio | No Comments

In 1957, the US Department of Defence established the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), later renamed the TheDefense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA) in 1972.

In 1962 Paul Baran, of the RAND Corporation (a government agency) produced a report on the potential for establishing a network which would enable communications between decentralised locations in the event of a nuclear attack. His proposal detailed the use of ‘packet switching’ or sending data as discreet units or labelled packets from one computer to another.

In 1965, Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines, demonstrating the feasibility of wide area networking.

In its earliest form and what became the technical core of the internet was called ARPANET, and its first official link was created between the University of Californiaand the Stanford Research Institute on October 29, 1969 – by December, 2 more universities had been added to this network. It was subsequently used by computer experts, engineers and librarians to exchange information.

In 1972, email was invented by Bolt Beranek and Ray Tomlinson by adapting an internal messaging system for use with ARPNET and within a year, the bulk of traffic on the system was email. The first email client (MSG) was developed in 1975.

In 1973, the first international connection was set up with the University College of London and in 1976, the Queen sent her first email.

In 1979, the first internet newsgroups (USENET) appeared courtesy of software which enabled the transmission and posting of news information and online discussion forums.

Data transfer protocols (TCP/IP) were described and introduced in the early 70’s, adopted by the Defence Department in 1980 and became universally adopted in 1983.

In 1982, The word “Internet” was used for the first time.

In 1984, the Domain Name System was created and the first Domain Name Servers (DNS) were introduced – this allowed for the translation of IP addresses into user-friendly names. Network addresses were identified by extensions such as .com, .org, .gov.

In 1989, CERN invented a global hypertext system called the World Wide Web, making it easier to publish information on the internet. ENQUIRE was launched which was a hypertext programme, employing specially programmed text or imagelinks (hyperlinks) to connect one document to another. This was publically released in 1991.

In 1990, the first commercial dial-up ISP came into being and ARPNET ceased to exist.

In 1991, the first ever web page ‘The Project’ (http://www.w3.org/History/19921103-hypertext/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html) was created – it explained what the web and email were. In this year, the first ever webcam (monitoring a coffee maker at Cambridge University) was also developed.

In 1993, the first graphical web browser, Mosaic, was released – it used HTML tags and had image capabilities and was the first tool for navigating the World Wide Web. Its creator Marc Andreesenwent on to develop the Netscape web browser in 1994.

The internet was first commercially used in 1992 when a company called Delphi offered an email connection and internet access to its subscribers – in 1995 all limitations on commercial use disappeared and AOL, Prodigy and Compuserve all came online.

1994: Yahoo was released (formerly known as Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web)

1995: Amazon.com and eBay were launched.

1996: Browser competition begins with Microsoft’s Internet explorer competing with Netscape.Hotmail, the first web based email service (webmail) was launched.

1998: Google and its page ranking system were launched.

1999: Napster and internet based file sharing were launched.

2001: Wikidpedia was launched.

2003: VoIP in the form of Skype was released to the public. Also, MySpace and social networking were born.

2004: Web 2.0 began, with interactivity and user-driven applications coming to the fore. Facebook was released to college students.

2005: Youtube launched.

2006: Twitter launched.

2007: Mobile web hit prominence with the release of the i-phone.


The internet comprises the following components:

The World Wide Web- An internet-based system allowing the retrieval of information in the form of web pages, documents and data from servers using browser software. W3C describes the Wev as “an information space in which the items of interest, referred to as resources, are identified by global identifiers called Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI).”

Usenet –A worldwide discussion system or ‘bulletin board’ connecting people through newsgroups. Each group functions as an electronic message board where users can post information and opinions and reply to posts by others – groups are usually special interest or topic replated.

Electronic mail – E-mail:a protocol for exchanging digital messages where the message composed by the user is regenerated at the recipient’s terminal. Users have an address consisting of a unique account identifier followed by the name of their service provider, denigrated using the @ sign.

FTP – File transfer Protocol: A protocol which allows the transfer (moving or copying) of files between a local system or server and any server that can be accessed by means of a network such as the internet.

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange – Allows for electronic transfer of data between companies over the Internet

IRC – Internet Relay Chat – Allows people connected over the Internet to participate in discussions

Telnet – A protocol that enables a user on one machine to log onto another networked machine and run software on that remote computer as if it were on the user’s local computer