The Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by people in the early 1960s who saw great potential value in allowing computers to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields. J.C.R. Licklider of MIT, first proposed a global network of computers in 1962, and moved over to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in late 1962 to head the work to develop it. Leonard Kleinrock of MIT and later UCLA developed the theory of packet switching, which was to form the basis of Internet connections. Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines. It showed the feasibility of wide area networking, but also showed that the telephone line’s circuit switching was inadequate. Kleinrock’s packet switching theory was confirmed. Roberts moved over to DARPA in 1966 and developed his plan for ARPANET. These visionaries and many more left unnamed here are the real founders of the Internet.
The Internet, then known as ARPANET, was brought online in 1969 under a contract let by the renamed Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which initially connected four major computers at universities in the southwestern US (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah). The contract was carried out by BBN of Cambridge, MA under Bob Kahn and went online in December 1969. By June 1970, MIT, Harvard, BBN, and Systems Development Corp (SDC) in Santa Monica, Cal. were added. By January 1971, Stanford, MIT’s Lincoln Labs, Carnegie-Mellon, and Case-Western Reserve U were added. In months to come, NASA/Ames, Mitre, Burroughs, RAND, and the U of Illinois plugged in. After that, there were far too many to keep listing here
Who was the first to use the Internet?
Charley Kline at UCLA sent the first packets on ARPANet as he tried to connect to Stanford Research Institute on Oct 29, 1969. The system crashed as he reached the G in LOGIN!
The Internet was designed in part to provide a communications network that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. If the most direct route was not available, routers would direct traffic around the network via alternate routes.
The early Internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians. There was nothing friendly about it. There were no home or office personal computers in those days, and anyone who used it, whether a computer professional or an engineer or scientist or librarian, had to learn to use a very complex system.
Did Al Gore invent the Internet?
According to a CNN transcript of an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Al Gore said,”During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Al Gore was not yet in Congress in 1969 when ARPANET started or in 1974 when the term Internet first came into use. Gore was elected to Congress in 1976. In fairness, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf acknowledge in a paper titled Al Gore and the Internet that Gore has probably done more than any other elected official to support the growth and development of the Internet from the 1970’s to the present .
E-mail was adapted for ARPANET by Ray Tomlinson of BBN in 1972. He picked the @ symbol from the available symbols on his teletype to link the username and address. The telnet protocol, enabling logging on to a remote computer, was published as a Request for Comments (RFC) in 1972. RFC’s are a means of sharing developmental work throughout community. The ftp protocol, enabling file transfers between Internet sites, was published as an RFC in 1973, and from then on RFC’s were available electronically to anyone who had use of the ftp protocol.
Libraries began automating and networking their catalogs in the late 1960s independent from ARPA. The visionary Frederick G. Kilgour of the Ohio College Library Center (now OCLC, Inc.) led networking of Ohio libraries during the ’60s and ’70s. In the mid 1970s more regional consortia from New England, the Southwest states, and the Middle Atlantic states, etc., joined with Ohio to form a national, later international, network. Automated catalogs, not very user-friendly at first, became available to the world, first through telnet or the awkward IBM variant TN3270 and only many years later, through the web. See The History of OCLC
The Internet matured in the 70’s as a result of the TCP/IP architecture first proposed by Bob Kahn at BBN and further developed by Kahn and Vint Cerf at Stanford and others throughout the 70’s. It was adopted by the Defense Department in 1980 replacing the earlier Network Control Protocol (NCP) and universally adopted by 1983.
The Unix to Unix Copy Protocol (UUCP) was invented in 1978 at Bell Labs. Usenet was started in 1979 based on UUCP. Newsgroups, which are discussion groups focusing on a topic, followed, providing a means of exchanging information throughout the world . While Usenet is not considered as part of the Internet, since it does not share the use of TCP/IP, it linked unix systems around the world, and many Internet sites took advantage of the availability of newsgroups. It was a significant part of the community building that took place on the networks.
Similarly, BITNET (Because It’s Time Network) connected IBM mainframes around the educational community and the world to provide mail services beginning in 1981. Listserv software was developed for this network and later others. Gateways were developed to connect BITNET with the Internet and allowed exchange of e-mail, particularly for e-mail discussion lists. These listservs and other forms of e-mail discussion lists formed another major element in the community building that was taking place.
In 1986, the National Science Foundation funded NSFNet as a cross country 56 Kbps backbone for the Internet. They maintained their sponsorship for nearly a decade, setting rules for its non-commercial government and research uses.
As the commands for e-mail, FTP, and telnet were standardized, it became a lot easier for non-technical people to learn to use the nets. It was not easy by today’s standards by any means, but it did open up use of the Internet to many more people in universities in particular. Other departments besides the libraries, computer, physics, and engineering departments found ways to make good use of the nets–to communicate with colleagues around the world and to share files and resources.
While the number of sites on the Internet was small, it was fairly easy to keep track of the resources of interest that were available. But as more and more universities and organizations–and their libraries– connected, the Internet became harder and harder to track. There was more and more need for tools to index the resources that were available.
The first effort, other than library catalogs, to index the Internet was created in 1989, as Peter Deutsch and his crew at McGill University in Montreal, created an archiver for ftp sites, which they named Archie. This software would periodically reach out to all known openly available ftp sites, list their files, and build a searchable index of the software. The commands to search Archie were unix commands, and it took some knowledge of unix to use it to its full capability.
At about the same time, Brewster Kahle, then at Thinking Machines, Corp. developed his Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), which would index the full text of files in a database and allow searches of the files. There were several versions with varying degrees of complexity and capability developed, but the simplest of these were made available to everyone on the nets. At its peak, Thinking Machines maintained pointers to over 600 databases around the world which had been indexed by WAIS. They included such things as the full set of Usenet Frequently Asked Questions files, the full documentation of working papers such as RFC’s by those developing the Internet’s standards, and much more. Like Archie, its interface was far from intuitive, and it took some effort to learn to use it well.
Peter Scott of the University of Saskatchewan, recognizing the need to bring together information about all the telnet-accessible library catalogs on the web, as well as other telnet resources, brought out his Hytelnet catalog in 1990. It gave a single place to get information about library catalogs and other telnet resources and how to use them. He maintained it for years, and added HyWebCat in 1997 to provide information on web-based catalogs.
In 1991, the first really friendly interface to the Internet was developed at the University of Minnesota. The University wanted to develop a simple menu system to access files and information on campus through their local network. A debate followed between mainframe adherents and those who believed in smaller systems with client-server architecture. The mainframe adherents “won” the debate initially, but since the client-server advocates said they could put up a prototype very quickly, they were given the go-ahead to do a demonstration system. The demonstration system was called a gopher after the U of Minnesota mascot–the golden gopher. The gopher proved to be very prolific, and within a few years there were over 10,000 gophers around the world. It takes no knowledge of unix or computer architecture to use. In a gopher system, you type or click on a number to select the menu selection you want.
Gopher’s usability was enhanced much more when the University of Nevada at Reno developed the VERONICA searchable index of gopher menus. It was purported to be an acronym for Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Netwide Index to Computerized Archives. A spider crawled gopher menus around the world, collecting links and retrieving them for the index. It was so popular that it was very hard to connect to, even though a number of other VERONICA sites were developed to ease the load. Similar indexing software was developed for single sites, called JUGHEAD (Jonzy’s Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation And Display).
In 1989 another significant event took place in making the nets easier to use. Tim Berners-Lee and others at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, more popularly known as CERN, proposed a new protocol for information distribution. This protocol, which became the World Wide Web in 1991, was based on hypertext–a system of embedding links in text to link to other text, which you have been using every time you selected a text link while reading these pages. Although started before gopher, it was slower to develop.
The development in 1993 of the graphical browser Mosaic by Marc Andreessen and his team at the National Center For Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) gave the protocol its big boost. Later, Andreessen moved to become the brains behind Netscape Corp., which produced the most successful graphical type of browser and server until Microsoft declared war and developed its MicroSoft Internet Explorer.
The early days of the web was a confused period as many developers tried to put their personal stamp on ways the web should develop. The web was threatened with becoming a mass of unrelated protocols that would require different software for different applications. The visionary Michael Dertouzos of MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Sciences persuaded Tim Berners-Lee and others to form the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994 to promote and develop standards for the Web. Proprietary plug-ins still abound for the web, but the Consortium has ensured that there are common standards present in every browser.
Read Tim Berners-Lee’s tribute to Michael Dertouzos.
Since the Internet was initially funded by the government, it was originally limited to research, education, and government uses. Commercial uses were prohibited unless they directly served the goals of research and education. This policy continued until the early 90’s, when independent commercial networks began to grow. It then became possible to route traffic across the country from one commercial site to another without passing through the government funded NSFNet Internet backbone.
Delphi was the first national commercial online service to offer Internet access to its subscribers. It opened up an email connection in July 1992 and full Internet service in November 1992. All pretenses of limitations on commercial use disappeared in May 1995 when the National Science Foundation ended its sponsorship of the Internet backbone, and all traffic relied on commercial networks. AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe came online. Since commercial usage was so widespread by this time and educational institutions had been paying their own way for some time, the loss of NSF funding had no appreciable effect on costs.
Today, NSF funding has moved beyond supporting the backbone and higher educational institutions to building the K-12 and local public library accesses on the one hand, and the research on the massive high volume connections on the other.
Microsoft’s full scale entry into the browser, server, and Internet Service Provider market completed the major shift over to a commercially based Internet. The release of Windows 98 in June 1998 with the Microsoft browser well integrated into the desktop shows Bill Gates’ determination to capitalize on the enormous growth of the Internet. Microsoft’s success over the past few years has brought court challenges to their dominance. We’ll leave it up to you whether you think these battles should be played out in the courts or the marketplace.
A current trend with major implications for the future is the growth of high speed connections. 56K modems and the providers who support them are spreading widely, but this is just a small step compared to what will follow. 56K is not fast enough to carry multimedia, such as sound and video except in low quality. But new technologies many times faster, such as cablemodems, digital subscriber lines (DSL), and satellite broadcast are available in limited locations now, and will become widely available in the next few years. These technologies present problems, not just in the user’s connection, but in maintaining high speed data flow reliably from source to the user. Those problems are being worked on, too.
During this period of enormous growth, businesses entering the Internet arena scrambled to find economic models that work. Free services supported by advertising shifted some of the direct costs away from the consumer–temporarily. Services such as Delphi offered free web pages, chat rooms, and message boards for community building. Online sales have grown rapidly for such products as books and music CDs and computers, but the profit margins are slim when price comparisons are so easy, and public trust in online security is still shaky. Business models that have worked well are portal sites, that try to provide everything for everybody, and live auctions. AOL’s acquisition of Time-Warner was the largest merger in history when it took place and shows the enormous growth of Internet business! The stock market has had a rocky ride, swooping up and down as the new technology companies, the dot.com’s encountered good news and bad. The decline in advertising income spelled doom for many dot.coms, and a major shakeout and search for better business models is underway by the survivors.
It is becoming more and more clear that many free services will not survive. While many users still expect a free ride, there are fewer and fewer providers who can find a way to provide it. The value of the Internet and the Web is undeniable, but there is a lot of shaking out to do and management of costs and expectations before it can regain its rapid growth.
May you live in interesting times! (ostensibly an ancient Chinese curse)*
The Internet today is a widespread information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called the National (or Global or Galactic) Information Infrastructure. Its history is complex and involves many aspects – technological, organizational, and community. And its influence reaches not only to the technical fields of computer communications but throughout society as we move toward increasing use of online tools to accomplish electronic commerce, information acquisition, and community operations.
Information Age Milestones
1866:” In the beginning was the Cable…”
The Atlantic cable of 1858 was established to carry instantaneous communications across the ocean for the first time.
Although the laying of this first cable was seen as a landmark event in society, it was a technical failure. It only remained in service a few days.
Subsequent cables laid in 1866 were completely successful and compare to events like the moon landing of a century later.
… the cable … remained in use for almost 100 years.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
A brief look from 1997:
Annual percentage growth rate of data traffic on undersea telephone cables: 90
Number of miles of undersea telephone cables: 186,000 Source: WinTreese
1957: Sputnik has launched ARPA
President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the need for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) after the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik.
The organization united some of America’s most brilliant people, who developed the United States’ first successful satellite in 18 months. Several years later ARPA began to focus on computer networking and communications technology.
In 1962, Dr. J.C.R. Licklider was chosen to head ARPA’s research in improving the military’s use of computer technology. Licklider was a visionary who sought to make the government’s use of computers more interactive. To quickly expand technology, Licklider saw the need to move ARPA’s contracts from the private sector to universities and laid the foundations for what would become the ARPANET.
by Will Lewis & Randy Reitz
The Internet as a tool to create “critical mass” of intellectual resources
To appreciate the import ante the new computer-aided communication can have, one must consider the dynamics of “critical mass,” as it applies to cooperation in creative endeavor. Take any problem worthy of the name, and you find only a few people who can contribute effectively to its solution. Those people must be brought into close intellectual partnership so that their ideas can come into contact with one another. But bring these people together physically in one place to form a team, and you have trouble, for the most creative people are often not the best team players, and there are not enough top positions in a single organization to keep them all happy. Let them go their separate ways, and each creates his own empire, large or small, and devotes more time to the role of emperor than to the role of problem solver. The principals still get together at meetings. They still visit one another. But the time scale of their communication stretches out, and the correlations among mental models degenerate between meetings so that it may take a year to do a week’s communicating. There has to be some way of facilitating communicantion among people wit bout bringing them together in one place.
The Computer as a Communication Device by J.C.R. Licklider, Robert W. Taylor, Science and Technology, April 1968. Online republish by Systems Research Center of DEC, p.29
The first visible results of Licklider’s approach comes shortly:
1969: The first LOGs: UCLA — Stanford
According toVinton Cerf:
…the UCLA people proposed to DARPA to organize and run a Network Measurement Center for the ARPANET project…
Around Labor Day in 1969, BBN delivered an Interface Message Processor (IMP) to UCLA that was based on a Honeywell DDP 516, and when they turned it on, it just started running. It was hooked by 50 Kbps circuits to two other sites (SRI and UCSB) in the four-node network: UCLA, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The plan was unprecedented: Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data.They would start by typing “login,” and seeing if the letters appeared on the far-off monitor.
“We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI…,” Kleinrock … said in an interview: “We typed the L and we asked on the phone,
“Do you see the L?”
“Yes, we see the L,” came the response.
“We typed the O, and we asked, “Do you see the O.”
“Yes, we see the O.”
“Then we typed the G, and the system crashed”…
Yet a revolution had begun”…
Source: Sacramento Bee, May 1, 1996, p.D1
1972: First public demonstration of ARPANET
In late 1971, Larry Roberts at DARPA decided that people needed serious motivation to get things going. In October 1972 there was to be an International Conference on Computer Communications, so Larry asked Bob Kahn at BBN to organize a public demonstration of the ARPANET.
It took Bob about a year to get everybody far enough along to demonstrate a bunch of applications on the ARPANET. The idea was that we would install a packet switch and a Terminal Interface Processor or TIP in the basement of the Washington Hilton Hotel, and actually let the public come in and use the ARPANET, running applications all over the U.S ….
The demo was a roaring success, much to the surprise of the people at AT&T who were skeptical about whether it would work.
Source: Vinton Cerf
About one – two years after the first online demo of how “actually let the public come in and use the ARPANET, running applications all over the U.S ….” (Vinton Cerf) the NET became really busy especially “every Friday night” (Bob Bell)
Around about 1973 – 1975 I maintained PDP 10 hardware at SRI.
I remember hearing that there was an ARPANET “conference” on the Star Trek game every Friday night. Star Trek was a text based game where you used photon torpedos and phasers to blast Klingons.
I used to have a pretty cool logical map of the ARPANET at the time but my ex-wife got it. (She got everything but the debts.)
DEC Field Service
It seems we found “a pretty cool logical map of the ARPANET” which Bob has kindly reminded us about . Thanks, Bob!
Logical map of the ARPANET, April 1971
1958 Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) created by Department of Defense (DoD).
1961 Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) assigns a Command and Control Project to ARPA.
1962 Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) formed to coordinate ARPA’s command and control research.
1972 ARPA renamed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
1986 The technical scope of IPTO expands and it becomes the Information Science and Technology Office (ISTO).
1991 ISTO splits into the Computing Systems Technology Office (CSTO) and the Software and Intelligent Systems Office
By Charles Babbage Institute
Center For the History of Information Processing
University of Minnesota
The Internet has changed the way we currently communicate…
But could the Internet have performed the function it was originally designed for?
.CNN: Would the internet
survive nuclear war?
History of the Internet and Web
If I have seen farther than others, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants.
– Isaac Newton
1996-2003 – Anthony Anderberg (emailprotected)
Last updated: 1/5/2003
Homing pigeons carry messages in ancient Greece.
In a letter Florentine merchant Francesco Lapi uses the @ sign for the first time in recorded history.
Galileo Galilei discovers the moon’s terrain and Jupiter’s four largest moons. His view of the heavens as a place started a scientific revolution, and would forever change how we view the universe around us.
Danish physicist Hans Christian Orsted discovers that a wire carrying an electric current creates a field that deflects a magnetic needle, a discovery that would eventually lead to the creation of the telegraph.
William F. Cooke and Charles Wheatstone install the first railway telegraph in England.
Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated a magnetic telegraph using his Morse Code to send the message ‘What hath God wrought’ from Baltimore to Washington.
The first transatlantic cable is installed between Ireland and Canada. Unfortunately the signal was so weak and indistinguishable from background noise that it took hours to send a few words. The owners tried to fix the situation by boosting the voltage from 600 to 2000 volts, melting the cable’s insulation and leaving it dead in the water. Later cables installed in 1866 were successful and remained in use for almost 100 years.
The Pony Express opens for business, pledging to ‘deliver the goods in 10 days or less’. Its first route carries mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California.
The last Pony Express run is made as the telegraph takes over.
Giovanni Caselli receives U.S. patent for a fax machine called the ‘pantelegraph’ based on Alexander Bain’s 1840 idea of synchronized pendulums. Service between Paris and Lyons France begins between 1865-1870, ending with the Franco-Prussian War.
Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent on a device which transmitted speech electronically. Three days later he spoke the famous words ‘Mr. Watson, come here, I want you’ to his assistant after spilling some acid in their workshop.
The first commercial telephone is introduced and the first telephone line is installed between Charlie William’s electrical shop on Court Street, Boston and his home about three miles away.
Joseph John Thomson discovers electrons.
John Ambrose Fleming patents the first practical electron tube known as the ‘Fleming Valve’, based on Thomas Edison’s patented ‘Edison Effect’. In 1906 Lee DeForest creates the more advanced three-element AUDION (what we now called a TRIODE.)
Researchers complete the first transcontinental call from New York to San Francisco as Alexander Graham Bell, in New York, speaks to Tom Watson in San Francisco, repeating the first complete sentence transmitted by telephone… ‘Mr. Watson – come here – I want you’.
Karel Capek coins the term ‘robot’.
Bell System engineers emonstrate the first transmission of pictures over telephone wires.
AT;T establishes commercial transatlantic telephone service to London using two-way radio. Calls cost $75 for five minutes.
The Communications Act of 1934 becomes law, it is the first effort to regulate the telephone industry by the Federal Communications Commission instead of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry begin work on the first electronic digital computer at Iowa State University. The 700-pound desk-size system was finished in 1942.
Hewlett-Packard is founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. They decide the company’s name with a coin toss.
Vannevar Bush publishes As We May Think in The Atlantic Monthly. In it he proposes memex, a machine that could store vast amounts of information. Users would have the ability to create information trails which could be stored and used for future reference.
John Bardeen, William Shockley, and Walter Brattain invent the transistor while at Bell Labs. They received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956 for their work.
The first commercially available computer (The Ferranti Mark 1), is delivered to Thomas Kilburn and Frederic Williams at Manchester University in England. Nine more are sold between 1951 and 1957.
The first high-level computer language (FORTRAN) is released by an IBM team lead by John W. Backus.
The first hard disk drive is created at IBM by a team lead by Reynold B. Johnson. The ‘305 RAMAC’ (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) held 5MB of data on fifty 24 inch disks at a cost of about $10,000 per MB.
USSR launches Sputnik, first artificial earth satellite.
Bell System announces it’s Data-Phone service which permits transmission of data over regular telephone circuits.
In response to the launch of Sputnik the US Department of Defense issues directive 5105.15 establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The directive tasks the agency with ‘direction or performance of such advanced projects in the field of research and development…’.
Jack Kilby demonstrates the fist integrated circuit to fellow researchers and executives at Texas Instruments.
Arthur L. Schawlow and Charles H. Townes publish Infrared and Optical Masers describing what would later be known as the laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) while at Bell Labs. Earlier in the year they also apply for a patent which is granted in 1960, the same year Theodore Maiman builds the first working model while at the Hughes Aircraft Company .
The first communication satellite, Echo, was launched.
Joseph Licklider publishes Man-Computer Symbiosis.
While at MIT Leonard Kleinrock publishes the first paper on packet switching networks Information Flow in Large Communication Nets.
ATT begins selling the first commercial modem (the Bell 103). The modem provided full-duplex transmission, frequency-shift keying or FSK, and had a speed of 300 bits per second or 300 bauds.
Steve Russell finishes the first computer game ‘Spacewar!’ while at MIT, inspired by E.E. Doc Smith’s Lensman novels. Later that year he and Alan Kotok would create the first joysticks. Other people involved were Peter Samson, Wayne Wiitanen, Dan Edwards, Martin Graetz, Steve Piner, and Robert A Saunders. A Java version and PDP-1 emulator are available here with source code.
The first live trans-Atlantic television broadcast is hosted by Walter Cronkite and made via ATT’s Telstar 1 satellite, launched 13 days earlier on July 10.
Full audio from the first broadcast.
Audio story by Walter Cronkite (from NPR)
Joseph Licklider and Wesley Clark publish ‘On-Line Man-Computer Communication’ discussing their ‘Galactic Network’ concept that would allow people to access data from any site connected through a vast network.
Joseph Licklider becomes the first head of the computer research program at ARPA.
Doug Engelbart invents the ‘X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System’, known today as the mouse.
Digital Equipment Corporation releases its PDP-8 computer, the first mass-produced minicomputer.
RAND’s Paul Baran publishes On Distributed Communications: Introduction to Distributed Communications Network which outlines packet-switching networks. This paper did discuss nuclear war, and is probably the source of the false rumor that the Internet was built with the goal of withstanding a nuclear attack.
Ted Nelson coins the word ‘hypertext’.
Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris create a Mail command for the Compatible Time-Sharing System at MIT.
Gordon Moore declares that computing power will double every 18 months, a prophecy that holds true today and is known as Moore’s Law. Moore and Robert Noyce would later leave Fairchild semiconductor to start Intel in the summer of 1968.
Thomas Marill and Lawrence Roberts set up the first WAN (Wide Area Network) between MIT’s Lincoln Lab TX-2 and System Development Corporation’s Q-32 in California. Later they would write Toward a Cooperative Network of Time-Shared Computers describing it.
Scientists used fiber optics to carry telephone signals for the first time.
Donald Davies coins the term ‘packets’ and ‘packet switching’.
ARPA’s Bob Taylor receives funding for a networking experiment that would tie together a number of Universities the agency was funding. With no formal requests and in under an hour Charles Herzfeld agrees to fund what three years later would become the ARPANET.
Wesley Clark comes up with the idea of using dedicated hardware to perform network functions while at a meeting of ARPA principal investigators. The devices would eventually be called Interface Message Processors (IMP’s), and today are generally referred to as routers.
Lawrence Roberts publishes the first design paper on ARPANET entitled Multiple Computer Networks and Intercomputer Communication at ACM’s Gatlinburg conference.
The first WAN to use packet switching is tested at the National Research Laboratory (NRL) in Great Britain.
The final standard for ASCII is published. (An earlier version that included only upper-case letters was released in 1961.)
Joseph Licklider and Robert Taylor publish The Computer as a Communications Device.
Larry Roberts of ARPA releases a Request for Quotation (RFQ) looking for bids to constructing a network of 4 IMPs, with possible growth to 19. Many large companies like ATT and IBM do not submit bits, saying that such a network was not possible.
A small consulting company called Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) located in Cambridge wins the ARPA IMP contract. The group, headed by Frank Heart, would have $1 million and less than a year to turn theory into a working system.
‘Sometime in March’
Honeywell delivers the first IMP prototype (IMP 0) to BBN. The unit was a modified version of Honeywell’s rugged 516 computer. Unfortunately it didn’t work correctly, Ben Barker would spend several weeks rewiring it by hand into the correct configuration.
Steve Crocker creates the first Request for Comment (RFC) document titled ‘Host Software’ (RFC1). It outlined the interface between hosts and BNN’s IMP devices, each site would be responsible for creating the host software that connected their computers to the ARPANET’s IMPs. The name RFC was chosen to avoid sounding too self-righteous, Crocker hoped to create an environment in which everyone felt comfortable participating – a spirit which would help the network to thrive in the coming decades.
Apollo 11 lands on the Moon. Neil Armstrong becomes the first man on the Moon. Buzz Aldrin becomes the second man. They spend 21.5 hours on the lunar surface, including 2.5 hours outside their lunar excursion module while millions watch from the earth.
‘The IMP Guys’ from BNN finish installing the first ARPANET IMP node (IMP1) at UCLA, it is attached to the school’s SDS Sigma-7 without a hitch.
The ARPANET’s second node is set up at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), connecting to their SDS 940. After a bit of tweaking the first connection was made from UCLA to the SRI machine over the 50Kbps circuit.
IMP number three is installed at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
The fourth node is installed at the University of Utah.
Norman Abrahamson of the University of Hawaii develops ALOHAnet with funding from ARPA. It carried data at a lowly 4.8Kbps, but would lay the groundwork for Ethernet several years later.
The fifth ARPANET node is installed at BBN’s headquarters.
ARPANET hosts start using Network Control Protocol (NCP) created by the Network Working Group (NWG) headed by Steve Crocker.
The ARPANET now has 15 sites (23 total hosts): UCLA, SRI, UCSB, U of Utah, BBN, MIT, RAND, SDC, Harvard, Lincoln Lab, Stanford, UIU(C), CWRU, CMU, NASA/Ames and averages about 700,000 packets per day.
Project Gutenberg is started by Michael Hart. Its first text is the US Declaration of Independence.
In a Honeywell Computer Journal editorial titled ‘What’s the Date?’ Bob Bemer publishes the first warning about the Y2K bug.
RFC 172 is released establishing the File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
The first Terminal Interface Processor (TIP) is deployed on the ARPANET, which enabled computer terminals to connect directly into the ARPANET for the first time.
BBN’s Ray Tomlinson creates the first software (SNGMSG and READMAIL) that allows email to be sent between computers, email quickly becomes the network’s most popular application.
ARPA’s name is changed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and is established as a separate defense agency under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Jon Postel creates the 1st Telnet specification (RFC 318) entitled: ‘Ad hoc Telnet Protocol’.
Bob Kahn organizes a demonstration of ARPANET between 40 machines at the International Conference on Computer Communications.
The Inter-Networking Group (INWG) is created to develop standards for the ARPANET. Vinton Cerf is named the chairman.
First international connections to the ARPANET: University College of London in England and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway.
ARPANET traffic grows to more than 3 million packets per day.
Vinton Cerf sketches his gateway architecture on back of envelope while sitting in a hotel lobby, building on Bob Kahn’s ideas for an improved version of NCP.
Robert Metcalfe writes a 13 page description of what will become Ethernet as part of his Harvard PhD thesis. He and David Boggs would later create the first ethernet network (running at 2.944 Mbps) between computers named Michelson and Morley, scientists who proved ether didn’t exist in the 19th century. Metcalfe would later start 3Com Corporation in June 1979.
Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie presented their first paper on UNIX at the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles at Purdue University.
Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn publish ‘A Protocol for Packet Network Internetworking’, which established the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). This is also the first time the term Internet was used.
The ARPANET has 62 computers attached to it.
Raphael Finkel first releases the Jargon File while at Stanford.
The ARPANET was transferred by DARPA to the Defense Communications Agency (now the Defense Information Systems Agency) as an operational network.
In RFC 706 – On the Junk Mail Problem Jon Postel notes that the design of most mail systems made it difficult to block junk mail, forsight the would prove correct when spam begans to fill user’s mail boxes twenty years later.
UUCP (Unix-to-Unix CoPy) developed at AT&T Bell Labs. It is distributed with UNIX one year later.
Leonard Kleinrock publishes the first book about ARPANET technologies: ‘Queueing Systems Volume II – Computer Applications’ which helped packet switching gain wide-spread acceptance.
The CCITT (now the ITU) defines the X.25 protocol for public packet switched networks.
Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale use e-mail every day during their campaign to coordinate intineraries. A Single message costs $4.
Queen Elizabeth II of England becomes the first head of state to send an e-mail message.
Apple Computer was incorporated in the state of California by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
The ARPANET has 111 computers attached to it.
The first Cray-1 computer is shipped to Los Alamos National Laboratory. The computer was designed by Seymour Cray and had 8 megabytes of memory, a peak speed of 160 megaflops, and a price tag of $8.8 million.
Dennis C. Hayes sells his first modem products to computer hobbyists. He goes on to create the Hayes Standard AT command set in June 1981, which becomes the de facto standard for modem interfaces.
Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn and others demonstrate the first gateway system connecting packet radio and the ARPANET.
The Aspen Movie Map is shown at MIT, it is the first hypermedia videodisc.
Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, and Danny Cohen create a plan to separate TCP’s routing functions into a separate protocol called the Internet Protocol (IP), error handling and datagram functions would remain a part of TCP.
The University of California at Berkeley releases Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) UNIX based on version 7 of ATT’s UNIX.
DARPA establishes the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB) to help the process of creating the gateways between hosts and the network.
The first MUD is created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw at the University of Essex.
USENET is created by Tom Truscott, Steve Bellovin, and Jim Ellis using UUCP between Duke and UNC.
While at UC Berkeley Eric Allman writes Delivermail, which will evolve into Sendmail during the early 1980s.
Kevin MacKenzie sends the first ever emoticon in a message to the MsgGroup. The first is -) meaning tongue-in-cheek.
The ARPAnet stops functioning for several hours when the routing processes in all of the IMPs crash after one of them corrupts the network’s routing tables.
Ted Nelson conceptualizes ‘Xanadu’, a central, pay-per-document hypertext database encompassing all written information.
BITNET is created by Ira Fuchs and Greydon Freeman. The “Because It’s Time NETwork” Started as a cooperative network at the City University of New York, with the first outside connection being to Yale.
IBM releases its IBM Personal Computer. It retailed for between $1500 and $4500 and sold more than 65,000 in the first 4 months.
RFC 791 which defines Internetwork Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is released.
The number of hosts breaks 200.
The Defense Data Network is created (soon to become the Milnet).
A military directive is issued by Richard DeLauer, the United State Under Secretary of Defense. It establishes the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite for ARPANET (and all military networks). The cutover date is set for January 1st 1983.
The first PC LAN is demonstrated at the National Computer Conference by Drew Major, Kyle Powell, and Dale Neibaur. Their software would eventually become Novell’s Netware.
Eric Rosen finishes the External Gateway Protocol (RFC 827) specification.
Scott E Fahlman proposes the ubiquitous Smiley 🙂 to indicate humor in message board posts.
The number of hosts breaks 500.
The Internet becomes reality when the ARPANET is split into Military and Civilian sections.
UC Berkeley releases BSD Unix version 4.2c, which included TCP/IP.
Internet Activities Board (IAB) established, replacing the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB). Dave Clark continues to act as the chairman and a number of task forces were created to handle specific technological issues including the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
The entire ARPANET switches from NCP to IP. The transition is said to have went smoothly, although buttons were distributed saying ‘I survived the TCP/IP transition.’ Jon Postel documented the plan in RFC801, Dan Lynch of USC ISI handled much of the logistics (and went on to start Interop in 1988), and UCLA student David Smallberg documented the transition in 15 RFCs in the range of RFC 842 – RFC 876.
Paul Mockapetris of USC’s Information Sciences Institute publishes RFCs 882 and 883 which outline the Domain Name Service. Paul’s first implementation of a DNS server was called JEEVES. Kevin Dunlap and later Paul Vixie would soon write BIND, which is by far the most common implementation today.
Mike Muuss writes Ping while at the US Army Ballistics Research Laboratory.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 1000.
William Gibson coins the term ‘cyberspace’ in the novel ‘Neuromancer’.
The Modified Final Judgement provides consumers with more choices for long distance services by ‘breaking up’ ATT.
JANET is created to serve higher-education in Britian.
Richard Stallman starts the GNU Project, and would later start the Free Software Foundation.
FidoNet is developed by Tom Jennings, with the node 2 belonging to John Madill.
Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link(WELL) is started by Larry Brilliant of Networking Technologies International and Stewart Brand of the Point Foundation, with Matthew McClure as director. Customers are charged $8 per month plus $2 per hour.
Quantum Computer Services is founded, in November its first online service Q-Link, launches on Commodore Business Machines. The company would become American Online in October 1991.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 5000.
BSD Unix 4.3 is released.
Larry Wall creates the Practical Extraction And Reporting Language, Pearl. (it’s name would soon be shortened to simply Perl)
The Cleveland Freenet comes on-line.
Mail Exchanger (MX) records are described by Craig Partridge in RFC974 joining mail records and DNS.
RFC 977 is released by Brian Kantor and Phil Lapsley. It describes Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP), which was created in an effort to make Usenet news faster and more efficient.
The National Science Foundation establishes 5 super-computing centers to provide high-computing power for all (JVNC at Princeton, PSC at Pittsburgh, SDSC at UCSD, NCSA at UIUC, Theory Center at Cornell). The NSFNET is created to connect the sites with a backbone speed of 56Kbps.
Dan Lynch organizes the first TCP/IP Implementor’s Workshop (which would become Interop in a few years), and holds it in Monterey.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 10,000.
The NSF signs an agreement to manage the NSFNET backbone with Merit Network, Inc.
Apple Computer introduces HyperCard, the first widely available personal hypermedia authoring system.
Jeff Case, Mark Fedor, Martin Schoffstall, and James Davin show off their Simple Gateway Monitoring Protocol (SGMP). Amazingly a major Internet outage occurred during the presentation, showing just how badly the system was needed. Their protocol would later evolve into SNMP.
The 1000th RFC ‘Request for Comments Reference Guide’ is published.
The Christmas Virus finds its way onto BITNET, causing many mail servers to crash because of the overload. Eventually much of the network is shutdown for a time to stop its spread.
The first transatlantic fiber-optic cable linking North America and Europe is completed, it can handle 40,000 telephone calls simultaneously.
Van Jacobson writes traceroute while at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs after a conversation with Steve Deering of Stanford University.
Bernard Daines creates the first Ethernet switch to add Ethernet support to Northern Telecom carrier-class telephone switches.
The NSFNET backbone is upgraded to DS-1 (1.544Mbps) links, it handles more than75 million packets a day.
Internet Relay Chat (IRC)is written by Jarkko Oikarinen at the University of Oulu, Finland.
The Internet Worm is released by Robert Morris Jr., affecting about 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts on the Internet. CERT(Computer Emergency Response Team) is later formed by DARPA in response to concerns raised by the Worm.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 100,000.
The IAB consolidates its growing list of task forces into two groups, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF). The IETF (one of the original 10 Task Forces) was given near-term responsibility for developments and standards while the smaller IRTF focused on longer-range research. Steering, Working, and Research groups are all formed under the IETF and IRTF.
The first gateways between private electronic mail carriers and the Internet are established. Compuserve is connected through Ohio State University and MCI is connected through the Corporation for National Research Initiative.
The Cuckoo’s Egg is written by Clifford Stoll. The book tells the real-life tale of a German cracker group who infiltrated numerous US facilities, and how Cliff traced and caught him after finding a 75 cent accounting error.
First Web Project proposal is distributed by CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee. His proposal was for a ‘hypertext system’ to aid the sharing of information between teams of researchers in the High Energy Physics community.
The first specification for Point to Point Protocol (PPP) is released in RFC 1134. Today almost all dial-up Internet users use PPP to connect.
The ‘Make Money Fast’ pyramid scheme is posted to UseNet for the first time, making Dave Rhodes infamous.
Archie is released by Peter Deutsch, Alan Emtage, and Bill Heelan at McGill.
The Internet Toaster, developed by Simon Hackett and John Romkey makes appearances at Interop.
Patrick Naughton sends an angry resignation letter to the CEO of Sun Microsystems detailing the woeful state of the company’s operating systems. The company commissions Naughton, Bill Joy, James Gosling, and three others to create a solution to the problem. They would create a simple object-oriented programming language named Oak, which would evolve into Java a few years later.
The ARPANET ceases to exist.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is announced by Mitchell Kapor and John Perry Barlow.
The first World-Wide Web software is created by Tim Berners-Lee.
Peter Scott introduces hytelnet.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 600,000.
The NSFNET backbone is upgraded to DS-3 (44.736Mbps) as traffic passes 1 trillion bytes and 10 billion packets per month.
Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS)is invented by Brewster Kahle.
Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) is released by Philip Zimmerman.
The Trojan Room Coffee Machine makes its debut, several years later it will become the first webcam.
Line mode browser (www) released to limited audience on priam vax,rs6000, and sun v4.
The National Science Foundation changes the acceptable use policy for the NSFNET backbone to allow commercial traffic.
CERN has a computer seminar on WWW.
Line mode browser (www) is announced on alt.hypertext. Later that month it is released on comp.sys.next, comp.text.sgml, and comp.mail.multi-media.
Gopher is announced by Paul Lindner and Mark P. McCahill from the University of Minnesota.
The mailing lists www-interest (now www-announce) emailprotected are started.
Linus Torvalds announces Linux version 0.02.
Apple Computer releases QuickTime version 1.0
The number of Internet hosts breaks 1 million.
The term Netizen is coined in an article by Michael Hauben entitled The Net and Netizens: The Impact the Net Has on People’s Lives.
The Internet Society (ISOC) is chartered.
The Internet Activities Board name is changed to the Internet Architecture Board as it starts operating as a part of the Internet Society.
The Line Mode Browser v1.1 (www) is made available by anonymous FTP.
Line mode v 1.2 announced on alt.hypertext, comp.infosystems,comp.mail.multi-media, cern.sting, comp.archives.admin, and several mailing lists.
The term ‘Surfing the Net’ is coined by Jean Armour Polly.
The Internet Activities Board (IAB) meets and decides to build a new version of IP out of CLNP.
The first IAB IPv6 draft is withdrawn during an IETF meeting.
The Internet Hunt contest is started by Rick Gates.
Veronica, a gopherspace search tool, is released by the University of Nevada.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 2 million.
ISO 10646 – Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set is released.
The White House and United Nations come on-line.
Robert Hayden creates the first version of The Geek Code.
WinSock 1.1 is released. WinSock standardized APIs used to create Windows-based TCPIP applications. It was started by Geoff Arnold and Martin Hall during Interop in 1991.
NCSA releases the first version of Marc Andreessen’s ‘Mosaic for X’.
There are about 50 HTTP servers.
DARPA is redesignated as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in President Clinton’s strategy paper, ‘Technology for America’s Economic Growth, A New Direction to Build Economic Strength’.
WWW (Port 80 HTTP) traffic measures 0.1% of NSF backbone traffic.
WWW presented at Online Publishing 93 in Pittsburgh.
International Workshop on Hypermedia and Hypertext Standards is held in Amsterdam.
The NSF awards Network Solutions the InterNIC contract worth $5.9 million a year until March 31, 1998 when the contract expires. They begin registering domains at the rate of almost 400 per month.
Gleason Sackmann creates the Net-happenings listserv to distribute announcements about the latest Internet resources.
Peter Steiner’s famous ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.’ cartoon appears on page 61 of The New Yorker (Vol.69 (LXIX) no. 20)
The first World-Wide Web developers’ conference is held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
NCSA Mosaic is released for Macintosh and Windows.
Web (http – tcp port 80) traffic takes 1% of NSF backbone bandwidth.
There are over 500 known HTTP servers.
Marc Andressen leaves the NCSA to work for a small software company. He soon forms a partnership with SGI founder Jim Clark that will become Netscape Communications Corp.
FreeBSD 1.0 is released.
The web grows at a 341,634% annual growth, Gopher grows at 997%.
The NSFNET backbone is upgraded to OC-3 (155mbps) links as traffic passes 10 trillion bytes per month.
The first cyberbank, ‘First Virtual’, opens.
Marc Andressen and Jim Clark form Mosaic Communications Corp. (now Netscape Communications).
Arizona lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel ‘spam’ 6000 usenet groups with postings advertising green card lottery services, many Internet users fight back.
The first international WWW conference is held at CERN in Geneva. It is heavily oversubscribed and known as the ‘Woodstock of the Web’.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 3 million.
The final specifications for IPv6 are released by IAB, they recommend 128 bit addresses, enough to number 1 quadrillion computers connected through 1 trillion networks.
The International WWW Conference Committee (IW3C2)is created by CERN and the NCSA.
The Internet/ARPANET celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Network Solutions Inc. reports that it is registering domain names at the rate of 2,000 per month.
The second international WWW Conference is held in Chicago and is called ‘Mosaic and the Web’.
Mosaic Communications Corporation (now called Netscape Communications) announces the first version of it’s Netscape web browser (version 0.9 Beta).
VRML 1.0 Draft is released by Gavin Bell, Tony Parisi, and Mark Pesce.
National Science Foundation advisory committee recommends moving to a user-fee system for registering domain names as soon as possible.
The first meeting of the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is held in Cambridge. W3C had been created by Tim Berners-Lee and Al Vezza.
CERN gets funding for the Large Hadron Collider and decides to discontinue WWW development enorder to refocus on particle physics. CERN hands projects over to INRIA.
The first macro virus is found in a Microsoft Word Document.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 4 million.
HTTP (web) packets pass FTP traffic to be largest volume Internet protocol.
The Apache web server project is started.
The National Science Foundation stops funding the NSFNET backbone and establishes the very high speed Backbone Network Service(vBNS) to serve the research community.
Sun Microsystems introduces its HotJava Web browser and the Java programming language, created five years earlier by Jim Gosling.
Scientific Applications International Corp. (SAIC) of San Diego acquires Network Solutions Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary.
The NSF and NSI announce that domain registration will no longer be free of charge effective immediately. According to the plan new registrants will pay a $100 fee for a two-year registration; and thereafter will pay $50 per year. Organizations registered prior to September 14, 1995 will be charged the $50 annual fee on the anniversary of their initial registration. EDU domains are still paid for by the NSF.
The Federal Networking Council (FNC) unanimously passes a resolution defining the term Internet.
RFC 1883 – ‘Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification is released, detailing how IPv6 should work.
The Telecommunications Reform Act is passed, opening local and long distance markets to full competition. The act also included a provision called the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which would be declared unconstitutional because of its vague wording in 1997.
In response to the CDA the EFF launches its famous Blue Ribbon Campaign.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 9 million.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin work on a search engine called BackRub, named for its unique ability to analyze the ‘back links’ pointing to a given website. The search engine was soon renamed ‘Google’, and Google Inc. opened its doors on September 7, 1998.
United Stated Public Law 104-106 directs ARPA to change its name to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
MCI upgrades its backbone to 622Mbps.
After repeated threats via email and snail mail Network Solutions drops 9272 domain names from its DNS tables for failure to pay their domain name fees.
The number of Internet hosts breaks 16 million.
The NCSA’s Software Development Group halts work on NCSA Mosaic.
The 2000th RFC titled ‘Internet Official Protocol Standards’ is released.
The Bonny View Cottage Furniture company registers the one millionth Internet domain name (bonnyview.com) at 12:07:51 pm.
The IAHC is dissolved.
The Communications Decency Act (part of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act) is declared unconstitutional in the case of Reno vs. ACLU.
Human error at Network Solutions causes DNS tables for .net and .com to become corrupted leaving most domain names unreachable while clean databases are distributed.
The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) begins operation.
The US Commerce Department releases its Green Paper proposal, intended to clarify how the domain name registration system should be handled.
Netscape Communications Corporation announces plans to make the source code for Netscape Communicator client software available for free licensing on the Internet.
The International Telecommunication Union announces that technical standards have been agreed upon for the V.90 protocol used in 56K modems.
The two millionth domain name (voyagerstravel.com) is registered.
The Gigabit Ethernet Alliance announces that the IEEE has ratified 802.3z as the Gigabit Ethernet standard.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) if formed and establishes it’s initial board of directors.
The three millionth domain name (lizzybee.com) is registered.
America Online, Inc. announces that it would acquire Netscape Communications Corporation in a stock transaction valued at $4.2 billion.
Online retailers rack up 5.3 billion in sales.
The four millionth domain name (riedelglass.com) is registered.
The Melissa macro virus quickly spreads across the network.
The five millionth domain name (believeinkids.com) is registered.
ISOC approves the formation of the Internet Societal Task Force (ISTF), Vint Cerf serves as first chair. The organization was originally proposed by Sascha Ignjatovic to address societal issues and concerns relating to the Internet.
The original Cleveland Freenet closes.
304 million people have internet access.
The ten millionth domain name is registered.
ICANN selects seven new top level domain names: .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, .pro
Short History of the Internet by Bruce Sterling
F;SF Science Column #5
Some thirty years ago, the RAND Corporation, America’s foremost Cold War think-tank, faced a strange strategic problem. How could the US authorities successfully communicate after a nuclear war?
Postnuclear America would need a command-and-control network, linked from city to city, state to state, base to base. But no matter how thoroughly that network was armored or protected, its switches and wiring would always be vulnerable to the impact of atomic bombs. A nuclear attack would reduce any conceivable network to tatters.
And how would the network itself be commanded and controlled? Any central authority, any network central citadel, would be an obvious and immediate target for an enemy missile. The center of the network would be the very first place to go. RAND mulled over this grim puzzle in deep military secrecy, and arrived at a daring solution. The RAND proposal (the brainchild of RAND staffer Paul Baran) was made public in 1964. In the first place, the network would *have no central authority.* Furthermore, it would be *designed from the beginning to operate while in tatters.*
The principles were simple. The network itself would be assumed to be unreliable at all times. It would be designed from the get-go to transcend its own unreliability. All the nodes in the network would be equal in status to all other nodes, each node with its own authority to originate, pass, and receive messages. The messages themselves would be divided into packets, each packet separately addressed. Each packet would begin at some specified source node, and end at some other specified destination node. Each packet would wind its way through the network on an individual basis.
The particular route that the packet took would be unimportant. Only final results would count. Basically, the packet would be tossed like a hot potato from node to node to node, more or less in the direction of its destination, until it ended up in the proper place. If big pieces of the network had been blown away, that simply wouldn’t matter; the packets would still stay airborne, lateralled wildly across the field by whatever nodes happened to survive. This rather haphazard delivery system might be “inefficient” in the usual sense (especially compared to, say, the telephone system) — but it would be extremely rugged.
During the 60s, this intriguing concept of a decentralized, blastproof, packet-switching network was kicked around by RAND, MIT and UCLA. The National Physical Laboratory in Great Britain set up the first test network on these principles in 1968. Shortly afterward, the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency decided to fund a larger, more ambitious project in the USA. The nodes of the network were to be high-speed supercomputers (or what passed for supercomputers at the time). These were rare and valuable machines which were in real need of good solid networking, for the sake of national research-and-development projects.
In fall 1969, the first such node was installed in UCLA. By December 1969, there were four nodes on the infant network, which was named ARPANET, after its Pentagon sponsor. The four computers could transfer data on dedicated high-speed transmission lines. They could even be programmed remotely from the other nodes. Thanks to ARPANET, scientists and researchers could share one another’s computer facilities by long-distance. This was a very handy service, for computer-time was precious in the early ’70s. In 1971 there were fifteen nodes in ARPANET; by 1972, thirty-seven nodes. And it was good.
By the second year of operation, however, an odd fact became clear. ARPANET’s users had warped the computer-sharing network into a dedicated, high-speed, federally subsidized electronic post- office. The main traffic on ARPANET was not long-distance computing. Instead, it was news and personal messages. Researchers were using ARPANET to collaborate on projects, to trade notes on work, and eventually, to downright gossip and schmooze. People had their own personal user accounts on the ARPANET computers, and their own personal addresses for electronic mail. Not only were they using ARPANET for person-to-person communication, but they were very enthusiastic about this particular service — far more enthusiastic than they were about long-distance computation. It wasn’t long before the invention of the mailing-list, an ARPANET broadcasting technique in which an identical message could be se