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Internet History

The following Internet timeline was compiled from timelines found at the following sites. Please refer to the sites listed for more detailed information about people, agencies, and events. Note that there is some conflict on exact dates when events occurred, partly because development times may span more than a year. In particular, some of the people involved in the early Internet pull dates out of their head. A technology or protocol is often released for testing on one date and officially announced on another date. Some sites obtain dates from RFC, but in many cases, RFCs are released either before or after the actual technology is put into use. Where there is discrepancy, I have dug deeper into RFC or fall back on Hobbes’ Internet Timeline.

Note: Some of the papers are located at multiple sites. If a Web link fails, search for the paper’s title with an Internet search engine.

Hobbes' Internet Timeline by Robert H’obbes’ Zakon

RFC 1000. This RFC has an introduction with historical information by Stephen Crocker.

RFC 1336, "Who's Who in the Internet, Biographies of IAB, IESG and IRSG Members."

BBN Timeline

"The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History" by Gregory R. Gromov

A Brief History of the Internet, by the original architects

Computer Networking: Global Infrastructure for the 21st Century" by Vinton Cer

"How the Internet Came to Be" by Vinton Cerf (as told to Bernard Aboba). This document contains many names of people involved.

"The History of the Net" by Henry Edward Hardy


History of the World Wide Web

"A Short History of the Web" by Robert Cailliau (this document contains a lot of interesting early history)

Internet historical and educational links

Yahoo! Internet History links


Late 1950s

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) founded

J.C R. Licklider named first director of ARPA IPTO (Information Processing Technology Office

Early 1960s

Packet-switching concepts developed by Paul Baran at Rand Corporation, Other people are also working up packet-switching concepts, including Leonard Kleinrock at MIT

J.C R. Licklider envisions a "Galactic Network" concept

Lawrence Roberts and Thomas Merrill developed a method in which one time-sharing computer could dial into another and remotely running programs on that system.

IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office) becomes interested in concept of remote access to multi-million dollar computers. Lawrence Roberts is called in because of his remote computing work.

Late 1960s

Thomas Merril is working with Roberts.

Lawrence Roberts, then at Lincoln Laboratory in Massachusetts, develops plan for ARPANET, based on previous remote computing work done by Thomas Merril. He proposes an "interface message processor" or IMP to connect hosts over dial-up lines and provides message exchange between them.

Wes Clark proposes that the IMP be a standalone device, rather that a process that runs in the host. This becomes a critical feature in all future design.

In 1968, ARPA includes $500,000 in its budget for development work on the ARPANET concept. Later that year, Larry Roberts develops an RFQ (request for quotation) for four IMPs and sends it to 140 potential bidders.

ARPA selects BBN’s proposal, put together by Bob Kahn and Frank Heart. Raytheon was a runner-up, but Roberts later mentioned that the company had too many layers of management involved.

The first BBN-developed IMP is delivered to UCLA in 1969.

September, 1969: IMPs installed at UCLA and Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and connected by 50 Kbps link. Later, UCSB and Univ. of Utah connected.

UNIX invented at AT&T Bell Labs (not released to the public until 1973)

Alohanet, a satellite network, is developed. Later, it inspires Bob Metcalfe in his development of Ethernet.


Vint Cerf and Steve Crocker develop NCP, the host-host protocol.

The first cross-country connection is put into place between UCLA and BBN. Soon, six more sites are added.

By the end of the year, a 230.4 Kbits/sec circuit is being tested by BBN.

Note: The ARPANET is not yet an internetwork. It is still just a remote-computing network. Internetworking developed in 1972 and first appears in 1973.


ARPA changes its name to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)

Over 20 sites connected to ARPANET by IMPs

Application development underway following NCP deployment

Telnet and file transfer protocol under development

Terminal IMP are developed that support up to 63 hosts and/or peripheral devices

The network grew during the 1970, partly because it was so easy to expand. Its open architecture design made it possible to add different types of computers. However, traffic is still light.


International Network Working Group (INWG) formed to further explore packet switching concepts and internetworking. Vinton Cert named chairman. INWG was initially affiliated with IFIP (International Federation of Information Processing).

Cerf and Kahn develop internetworking concepts and the idea of the CATENET (concatenated network). The goal is to connect networks that use different packet types and transmission rates such as a satellite and radio network. These "autonomous" systems will be joined with gateways (routers). Cerf and Kahn start developing a host-to-host protocol for the task. TCP is the result of this work.

Ray Tomlinson (BBN) develops basic email send/receive software

Lawrence Roberts organizes public demonstration of ARPANET to get more universities motivated into connecting their systems. Legends such as Jon Postel and Bob Metcalfe are involved in the demonstration. AT&T is skeptical that the ARPANET will actually work. The names of other people instrumental in that project may be found in "How the Internet Came to Be" by Vinton Cerf as told to Bernard Aboba (see earlier references).


Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn work up plans for what will eventually become TCP/IP, developing the concept of a "network of networks" or "internet."

Bob Metcalfe develops concepts that will eventually lead to Ethernet. The concepts are tested at Xerox PARC.

First international connection between England and Norway

Email becomes the most used feature of the network, generating 75% of its traffic

Vint Cerf starts designing gateways to succeed IMPs

UNIX released for outside use by AT&T Bell Labs. It runs on DEC PDP-11 computers. By 1979, its runs on other computers and ARPA chooses it as the base operating system to promote open interchange across the ARPANET.


Cerf and Kahn jointly publish a paper called "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection" that outlines TCP, datagrams, Internetwork gateways, and other internetworking features.

BBN creates Telenet, a commercial version of the ARPANET


ARPA is fading, but the NSF (National Science Foundation) starts to take on an important role in the computer networking community. Most important, it is funding projects.

ARPANET control moves to the Defense Communications Agency

63 IMPs are interconnected

First major changes are made to network addressing techniques

Number of hosts increasing as LANs are deployed


X.25 protocols developed for public packet networking

New router technology under development


The first internetwork is demonstrated by Cerf and Kahn. They connect three networks with TCP: a radio network, SATNET (satellite network), and ARPANET.


UUCP (UNIX to UNIX Copy) is developed by AT&T Bell Labs. It provides mail services and file transfer services. It leads to the development of newsgroups.

Cerf, Jon Postel, and Danny Cohen decide to split TCP into TCP and IP.


USENET news and discussion groups go online

SGML is created by Charles Goldfarb. HTML will later be developed from this work.

ARPA chooses UNIX as the preferred operating system for the ARPANET in order to promote open interchange. UC Berkeley’s Computer Systems Research Group is contracted to enhance the operating system, which leads to UNIX 4BSD (Fourth Berkely Software Distribution).


TCP/IP protocol design is "frozen" and efforts are started to adopt the protocol throughout the ARPANET.

ARPANET growth makes it no longer feasible to maintain a single table of hosts. Alternative methods are under development, leading to DNS.

Ethernet becomes a commercial product sold by 3Com (Bob Metcalfe’s company) and other vendors.


As Ethernet LANs come into use in organizations, ARPANET becomes a sort of backbone network that interconnects them

The National Science Foundation creates CSNET (Computer Science Network) which connects computer science departments around the U.S. with 56 Kbits/sec lines. CSNET is not connected to ARPANET, but an inter-network connection is planned and completed by 1983.

BITNET ("Because its There Network" or "Because its Time Network") is established. The network provides store-and-forward message exchange between IBM "dinosaur" mainframes. It provides ARPANET users with links to IBM systems at academic sites, although with lots of complaints.

IBM PC and MS-DOS introduced


TCP/IP is adopted as a defense standard by DCA (now Defense Information System Agency) and ARPA.

Sun Microsystems is started and begins shipping its "network workstations," which run UNIX and TCP/IP.

EGP (Exterior Gateway Protocol) specified in RFC 827 as the routing protocol that operates between network gateways. Later, it will be replaced with BGP as the Internet grows into a hierarchical network of autonomous systems.

The International Organization for Standards is developing its Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standard for network connection. By the end of the 1980s, governments around the world, including the U.S. Government, want to adopt it. However, it fails at becoming an internetworking standard due to proliferation of TCP/IP and the Internet.


January 1: All ARPANET hosts convert simultaneously from NCP to TCP/IP. Dan Lynch, who later found INTEROP, handled most of the logistics for this transition from his office at USC.

ARPANET splits into ARPANET and MILNET. Of the original 113 nodes, 68 are given to MILNET (Hobbes)

ARPANET and CSNET are joined by gateways.

IAB (Internet Activities Board) formed to coordinate Internet growth. IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) is part of IAB.

Paul Mockapetris (USC/ISI) invents DNS (Domain Name System). DNS simplifies how one system obtains an address to another system, automating the process by providing a server for address look-ups.

UNIX release 4.2BSD with integrated TCP/IP suite and remote software components is released and available at no charge. It runs on a variety of computer systems. This event is critical to the growth of the Internet and creates and explosion of new services.


DNS implementation starts to take place

Commercial routers are commonly available for connecting LANs to the ARPA internetwork.

The NSF created five supercomputer centers and set about connecting them together. This system, called the NSFNET, will become the Internet (the original ARPANET is still in place as a separate network). CSNET remains on-line as a 56 Kbits/sec network.

Concept of "cyberspace" as coined by William Gibson in Neruomancer becomes popular

1,000 hosts


IETF working groups begin to form.

DNS management assigned to USC ISI (Information Sciences Institute). DNS NIC registration given to SRI (Stanford Research Institute)

NSFNET network under development to connect the supercomputer centers with 1.5 Mbits/sec T1 lines. The 50 Kbits/sec ARPANET is still in place, as well as the 56 Kbits/sec CSNET and a variety of satellite and radio links.

Email is widely used and well-known even outside the Internet community

TCP/IP ported into Berkeley UNIX release v4.2

UNIX and LAN technology continues to grow, pushing the growth of NSFNET.

2,000 hosts

RFC 942 (Transport Protocols for Department of Defense Data Networks, February 1985) describes the DOD network requirements for operational readiness, mobilization, and war-fighting capabilities. The RFC states that the network must function "after many nodes and links have been destroyed," presumably in a nuclear attack.


NSFNET comes on line with 56 Kbits/sec links. This is the start of what will be called the "Internet" (i.e., with a capital I).

The Internet organizational infrastructure, hierarchically arranged under the (then) Internet Activities Board (IAB) is formally declared by RFC 985, "Requirements for Internet Gateways" (also formally defines Internet interoperability)

The IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) is formed to provide engineering and technical management.

According to Vint Cerf, the exponential growth of the Internet began this year after the establishment of NSFNET.

Al Gore sponsors legislation calling for the interconnection of nations Supercomputer centers with high-speed fiber-optic networks. This leads to the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Initiative.

2300 hosts


Merit (at University of Michigan), IBM, and MCI win contract to manage NSFNET backbone. All would later found ANS.

NSF merges BITNET and CSNET to form CREN (Corporation for Research and Educational Networking).

10,000 hosts


NSF instructs MERIT, IBM, and MCI begin development on a 45 Mbits/sec T3-based backbone network. This backbone will become a reality in 1992.

NSFNET high-speed backbone upgraded to 1.5 Mbits/sec T1 links

CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) is created to monitor and keep the network community informed about security problems and issues after a "worm" disables thousands of hosts

The U.S. Government adopts OSI protocols and dictates that all purchases must conform to GOSIP (US Government OSI Profile). TCP/IP is viewed as an interim protocol. (In retrospect, OSI was the interim protocol).


ARPANET shuts down and is replaced by the Internet (which is composed of the NSFNET and many interconnected regional networks).

IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) established

Tim Berners-Lee develops Web technology at CERN

Archie developed. It helps locate information on FTP servers throughout the Internet.

100,000 hosts on the Internet


MCI Mail is allowed to connect with Internet. An experimental mail relay connect MCI Mail with CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiative).

Public email use takes off

300,000 hosts and 10,000 domains


NSF relaxes its Acceptable Use Policies for the Internet, which removes the restrictions that limit commercial use.

Commercial Internet service providers begin to appear. PSI (Performance Systems International), UUNET, and CERFNet are among other starters.

The High Performance Computer Act is enacted by the U.S. Congress. This leads the NSF to establish NREN (National Research and Education Network), a high-speed network for advanced research. NREN succeeds NSFNET as a non-commercial research network.

CIX (Commercial Internet Exchange) formed to provide a place where Internet traffic could be exchanged among service providers.

Gopher is developed by Mark MaCahill and Paul Lindne. It is a program for finding and linking to files on the Internet.

Wais is developed by Brewster Kahle. It is a program for

Tim Berners-Lee posts his hypertext software which will eventually become the basis of the Web in a newsgroup called "alt.hypertext"

Marc Andreesen and fellow students at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana are busy developing Tim Berners-Lee’s hypertext concepts into what will become the first Web browser called Mosaic.

Web servers are installed at CERN. The first Web server in the U.S. is installed at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Linux operating system developed by Linus Torvalds and released to the public.


The 45 Mbits/sec T3-based NSFNET backbone debuts.

World Wide Web debuts

Internet Society formed

Internet Activities Board reorganized under the Internet Society and renamed IAB (Internet Architecture Board)

Internet consists of 1 million hosts and 17,000 networks in 33 countries.

MBONE (Multicast backbone) debuts


NII (National Information Infrastructure Act)

CERN announces that it will not hold copyright on Web technologies

NSF creates the InterNIC, which provides important Internet services such as directory services, registation, and information services.

Marc Andreesen and fellow students at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana release the first Web browser, Mosaic

First Internet Talk Radio broadcast

1.5 to 2 million hosts

50 Web servers in January, 200 by October


NII (National Information Infrastructure) proposed

New networks are added to expand NSFNET, including ATM networks running at 145 Mbits/sec.

NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) suggest government should drop OSI-only requirements specifed by GOSIP and adopt TCP/IP as well.

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) founded

Jerry Yang and David Filo create a set of bookmarks to sites on the Web. Their company is called Yahoo!, which by 1999, had better brand recognition than Coke.

3 to 4 million hosts

2,7 Web servers by mid-year, 10,000 by December


The term "Internet" is officially defined by the U.S. Federal Networking Council

Domain registration fees set at $50.

NSFNET reverts to a research only network. The backbone is now mainly owned and operated by private companies.

Netscape goes public. It is one of the biggest IPOs in history and sets the stage for future Internet company IPOs

The Java programming language, ideally suited for the Web, is introduced.

Search engines and Web browser technologies grow in popularity. Alta Vista search engine goes online.

IPv6 specification released

50,000 networks worldwide. 5 million permanently attached hosts, 30,000 Web sites


NSF establishes the vBNS (very high speed Backbone Networks Service) to link its supercomputer centers.

Privately funded backbones begin to dominate the Internet

Internet phones begin to appear. US Telecommunication providers attempt to ban them.

MCI upgrades its backbone by adding 13,000 ports and increasing the speed from 155 Mbits/sec to 622 Mbits/sec.

Search engines and Web browser technologies continue to grow in popularity

XML introduced in draft form

On-line stock discussion groups may be driving the market

10 million to 12 million hosts, 100,000 to 230,000 Web sites


ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers) is organized to handle the IP number management services previously handled by InterNIC, i.e., Network Solutions. The change takes place in March of 1998.

Search engines and Web browser technologies still continue to grow in popularity

On-line stock trading takes off

Push (psuedo-multicasting) technology is overhyped

20 million hosts. 640,000 Web sites in January, 1,681,998 Web sites by December


US Department of Commerce outlines its plan to privatize DNS. Later, DoC enters into an agreement with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers) to manage the transition process.

"Hobbes' Internet Timeline" is released as RFC 2235. An updated version is available at

Search engines and Web browser technologies still continue to grow in popularity

On-line stock trading becomes serious competition for brokers

Electronic commerce and portals take off. shows the world how to do on-line stores.

e-Bay online auctions take off

300 million Web sites


MCI upgrades the vBNS to 2.5 Gbits/sec

Internet2 (and Abalene) under development

New optical networking technologies begin to reshape the Internet backbone.

Abundant bandwidth is in site in the backbone and to the home. Vendors and Web sites begin to prepare applications and content for a new high-speed era.

Everyone is talking about the convergence of the Internet and public telephone system.


XML takes off

Cell phones with Web interfaces

Small mobile wireless computing devices

Massively distributed embedded systems

The concept of a server-centric Web gives way to "peer-to-peer servers everywhere" Web

Privacy decreases as information about people is collected and shared all over the Web

The explosion (young millionaires are created by foolish investors)


The implosion (ex-paper millionaires go looking for real jobs)

More pending. Readers: please submit
worthy additions to this timeline.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.