Today, the Internet is everywhere. Literally. With the help of Wi-Fi and satellite Internet, there isn’t a remote corner of the world where you can’t connect. Many of us take Internet access for granted, never leaving home without our iPhone or Blackberry. Indeed, dial-up AOL seems a thing of the distant past, not to mention what preceded it. But, though it may be hard to remember a time without the web, things were not always this way. Here’s a timeline marking some important milestones in the history of the Internet.
1969: Arpanet, the network that was to become the basis for the Internet, came to fruition on October 29, connecting for university computers and Stanford and UCLA. Unix was developed the same year by a group of AT&T employees and later influenced the design of the Linus and FreeBSD operating systems popularly used in today’s servers.
1970: An Arpanet network was established between Harvard, MIT, and BBN.
1971: Email was created by Ray Tomlinson, who also initiated the use of the @ symbol. Project Gutenberg also began in 1971, putting computer storage capacity to use in the birth of eBooks.
1973: Arpanet made the first trans-Atlantic connection with University College London. The same year also saw the popularity of email rise to 75% of all Arpanet network activity.
1974: It was proposed that all Arpa-like networks be linked together in one “inter-network.” This idea gave birth to what eventually became TCP/IP.
1975: John Vittal developed the first modern email program, which included “reply” and “forward” functions.
1977: The PC modem was developed by Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington and used by computer hobbyists.
1978: The first unsolicited commercial email message, or spam, was sent.
1979: Grandfather to World of Warcraft and Second Life, text-based MUD (short for MultiUser Dungeon), became the first multi-player game, mixing role-playing, interactive, fictional, and online chat components.
1982: The first emoticon: – ) was brought into use after jokes.
1983: Arpanet computers switched over to TCP/IP.
1984: The domain name system (DNS) was created to make online addresses more user-friendly, replacing a series of numbers with easy-to-remember words.
1987: The number of hosts on the Internet grew to 30,000.
1988: Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was first used, laying the foundation for real-time chat and the instant-messaging programs used today.
1988: “The Morris Worm,” one of the first major Internet worms was released, resulting in significant interruptions for many users.
1989: AOL was launched.
1989: The concept behind the World Wide Web was proposed.
1990: Arpanet was retired and the first commercial dial-up ISP, The World, was introduced, and the World Wide Web code was written, including standards for HTML, HTTP, and URLs.
1991: The first web page created as a World Wide Web tutorial. The same year brought into existence the first content-based search protocol, called Gopher, as well as MP3 standardization and the first webcam.
1993: Mosaic became the first web browser that was easy for the general public to use. Governments also began to go online, introducing.org and.gov domain names.
1994: Netscape Navigator became Mosaic’s first big competitor.
1995: This year is credited for the commercialization of the Internet, the launch of Geocities and Java, and Internet use by the Vatican.
1996: Hotmail, the first webmail service, was launched. Also, the first consumer Satellite Internet service became available.
1997: The term “weblog” was coined.
1998: The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal became the first news story to be broken online rather than through traditional media. Google was born in the same year, and Internet-based file-sharing became popular with Napster.
2000: The dotcom bubble burst, causing devastating losses for many investors.
2001: Wikipedia was launched.
2003: VoIP (Voice Over IP) calling was released to the public in the form of Skype, MySpace became the most popular social network, and the CAN-SPAM Act helped control the problem of unsolicited pornographic emails.
2004: “Web 2.0” and “social media” became mainstream concepts, in the same year that Facebook (later to overtake MySpace in popularity) was first opened to college students.
2005: YouTube made free online video sharing and hosting available to the masses.
2006: Twitter was launched.
2007: TV shows became legally available online with the launch of Hulu in the same year that the revolutionary iPhone was introduced, drawing attention to mobile web applications and design.
2008: The United States presidential campaigns took advantage of the Internet through online campaign videos and fundraising through Facebook.
As our world becomes increasingly dependent on the Internet, new innovations are constantly being introduced to make our lives easier and faster. Just as dial-up was once considered groundbreaking and speedy, in the rapidly changing world of technology, it’s hard to say exactly what the future has in store for what are currently considered high-speed connections, like cable, DSL, and satellite broadband. But when you look at how far we’ve come since the humble beginnings of Arpanet, the progress is remarkable.