Looking back, the internet can seem like a natural human progression as a communication medium.
We had the telegraph, the telephone, the telefax, and now the internet. All communication mediums, which use a common infrastructure technology. Cables.
The internet is a big mesh of cables spanning the world. Transmitting information at the speed of light.
Here, we are going to look at a selected timeline of the history of the internet.
The Early History of the Internet
The early days of any new innovation are unclear. There is a lot of trial and error. The internet is no different. The internet’s history begins with the development of computers. Then grows with the human desire to connect and share.
We begin our history of the internet in the 1950s.
In the 1950s we see the invention of computers. This is the necessary first step to the internet. Once we have computers, the desire to connect them together comes shortly.
The first wide area network (WAN) is released at MIT in 1965. In its primitive state, this was connecting two computers together. This would later become ARPANET.
UCLA sends the first internet message to the Stanford Research Institute. The message was “login”, which only “lo” was received. This is the first successful internet message.
Fiber optic cables begin to be used for data transmission in the Telegraph. The internet will not use this technology for another 20 years.
ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) begins to implement the future internet protocol. This is early data packet switching. Later, this provides TCP/IP, which gives us a system of 15 nodes and email.
File transfer protocol is first seen in 1971. It is released to the public as RFC 114. The protocol is to transfer computer files between a client-server relationship.
The first form of email designed for use at scale comes in 1971. At this stage, the email is for hosted systems, not the web based mail we have today.
Network prefixes, based on IPv4 are developed. IPv4 is announced in RFC 791. Although announced in 1981, it was invented in 1978.
The first email client is released by IBM in 1981 as PROFS. PROFS later becomes part of the OfficeVision line. With a nice user interface, adoption of email begins.
Developed by ARPANET in the 1970s, 1982 marks the year TCP/IP becomes the standard protocol of the internet.
The Beginning of the Internet
Connecting computers was just that. Connecting computers. It was not until 1983 that we get the concept of the internet. The software doesn’t become public until 1993.
Here, we look at the history of the internet from when it was officially “the internet”.
On January 1, 1983, the internet becomes official. This day marks the beginning of the internet.
In the same year, Domain Names are developed. Through RFC 882 and RFC 883, the domain name system (DNS) is established.
Cisco Systems, a pioneer of border gateway protocol and the modern internet, is founded in 1984.
AOL begins in 1985. Although not an internet service provider, AOL provides dial-up phone numbers for users to access the internet.
IP Multicast is developed and released through RFC 1112.
January 1989 in Austin, Texas, at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), BGP is created. Drawn on three sheets of paper, Yakov Rekhter of IBM and Kirk Lougheed of Cisco, design BGP. The original three sheets of paper are hanging in Cisco’s modern day offices.
In June of this year, the internet memo RFC 1105 is released with BGP version 1. This changes internet routing protocols from being tree-like topologies into the modern mesh topologies we have today.
During this same year, the first internet service provider (ISP) in the US is founded. The ISP is “The World”.
The first web browser is developed and released. It is originally released as WorldWideWeb, but later becomes Nexus.
This is the year that fiber optic cables begin to be used for internet backbone infrastructure. They are expensive, so wide spread use does not take off.
Stan Hanks releases the first virtual private network (VPN) for IP based systems. They create a point to point tunnel through the internet.
As the 1980s become the 1990s, the internet is gaining traction. The events in the 1990s send the internet on an accelerated growth period.
The Internet Goes Public
As the internet moves into the public domain, it becomes a communication and commercial medium.
The 1990s are a time for the internet to explode. It begins in 1993 at CERN.
In 1993, CERN releases the software for the World Wide Web into the public domain.
At the same time, CERN released web-based mail. This is email as we know it today.
As email comes into its modern form, we have the first SPAM reference.
The web browser, Mosaic, is released. Mosaic, which is developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), is credited for popularizing web browsing. Mosaic would later go on to become Netscape Navigator.
Anycast is released during this year with RFC 1546.
As web browsing begins to gain traction, Netscape Navigator is released.
In the same year, the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) is formed. They will go on to become one of the leading networking trade organizations.
1995 marks the beginning of the dot-com bubble. Coming to a crash in 2001, this period of six years sees a large increase in the number of internet based businesses.
Microsoft will release its web browser, Internet Explorer, in this year.
Yahoo is founded in 1995, and its core business is search.
IPv6, which adds more network prefixes, is released at the end of this year under RFC 1883. BGP support does not come until later.
As border gateway protocol (BGP) comes into its modern day format, autonomous systems are created with the BGP revision RFC 1771.
DE-CIX is founded in 1995 and will go on to become the worlds largest internet exchange point. It is unique as it is a data center neutral internet exchange point.
Cisco releases multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) for use in more than just ATMs. Before this release, MPLS was developed only for use in ATM machines.
In 1996 we see the first attempt at cloud computing. It does not take off, but the result is more data center usage.
Google is founded in 1998, and the world of internet search is forever changed.
As internet usage continues to grow, internet speed becomes a bigger concern. The first content delivery network (CDN) is founded. Akamai Technologies begins out of MIT.
In 1999, the standards for wireless networking are released. WiFi capabilities will begin to develop.
In 2000, the price of fiber optic cables begins to drop. This allows for more adoption and more fiber optic cables to be used in the internet infrastructure.
As ISPs and commercial interests in the internet increase, net neutrality becomes a new concept. The term is coined during this year, and it is still heavily debated today.
Mozilla Firefox is released as an open source web browser and rapidly expands in use.
At Stanford University, OpenFlow is developed. This is the introduction of software defined networking (SDN). OpenFlow creates the white-box switch movement, infrastructure as code, and NetDevOps. It is what we use at Datapath.io to make the internet faster.
SDN will later be improved upon with network function virtualization (NFV). This is the modern, all-encompassing networking concept.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is founded and releases Elastic Cloud Compute. This is the second attempt at cloud computing and it will go on to become the largest cloud provider.
With the release of cloud computing, the “as-a-service” business model takes off.
The web browser, Google Chrome, is released and begins to take market share away from Mozilla Firefox.
This is a brief history of the internet. The internet has far more history to be written. Between internet based companies and internet innovation, we are in the internet’s infancy.
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