|We've come a long way, baby. Here's a timeline of some of
the significant milestones in the internet's history.
1969 - The first node is connected to the internet's military
ancestor, ARPANET. With no HQ and the ability to bounce messages between
surviving nodes until they reach their destination, ARPANET was intended
to be America's bomb-proof communications network at the height of the
1971 - Michael Hart begins Project
Gutenberg to make copyright-free works electronically available. The
first is the US declaration of independence.
1972 - Bolt Beranek and Newman computer engineer Ray Tomlinson
invents email by adapting an internal messaging program and extending it
to use the ARPANET to send messages between sites. Within a year, three
quarters of ARPANET traffic is email.
1973 - University College of London is one of the first
international connections to ARPANET.
1976 - The Queen sends an email from the Royal Signals and
Radar Establishment in Malvern.
1982 - Scott Fahlman kick-starts smiley-culture by suggesting
using the :-) and :-( smileys to convey emotions in emails. His message
has been preserved at http://research.microsoft.com/~mbj/Smiley/Smiley.html.
1984 - Joint Academic Network (JANET) built to connect UK
universities to each other over the internet.
1986 - Internet newsgroups are born. Rick Adams at the Center
for Seismic Studies releases software enabling news transmission,
posting and reading using internet-standard TCP/IP connections. His
software builds on work begun in 1979 at Duke University to exchange
information between Unix machines.
1988 - The first internet worm is unleashed by Robert Morris.
It infects about 6000 computers. Although it causes no physical damage,
it clogs up the internet and loses hundreds of thousands of dollars in
1989 - Tim Berners-Lee and the team at CERN invent the World
Wide Web to make information easier to publish and access on the
1993 - Marc Andreesen of the National Center for SuperComputer
Applications in the US launches web-browser Mosaic. It introduces
proprietary HTML tags and more sophisticated image capabilities. The
browser is a massive success and businesses start to notice the web's
potential. Andreesen goes on to develop the Netscape web browser.
1994 - Internet Magazine launches. It reports on London's
first cybercafe and reviews 100 websites. It's billed as the 'most
extensive' list of websites ever to appear in a magazine. A 28.8Kbps
modem costs £399 (plus VAT).
1995 - Digital Equipment Corporation's Research lab launches
search engine Alta Vista, which
it claims can store and index the HTML from every internet page. It also
introduces the first multilingual search.
1994 - Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web is
renamed Yahoo! and receives 100,000
visitors. In 1995, it begins displaying adverts.
1995 - Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com,
an online bookseller that pioneers ecommerce.
1995 - eBay is launched to
enable internet users to trade with each other.
1996 - The browser wars begin. Microsoft sees the internet as
a threat and integrates Internet Explorer with Windows. Netscape and
Microsoft go head-to-head, intensively developing and releasing upgrades
to their browsers.
1996 - Macromedia Flash 1.0 launches to add interactive
animation to webpages. Early adopters include Disney and MSN.
1998 - Google arrives. It
pioneers a ranking system that uses links to assess a website's
popularity. Google's simple design is soothing while existing search
engines cram their pages with animated adverts.
1999 - Shawn Fanning launches Napster.
The peer-to-peer software enables internet users to swap MP3 music files
stored on their computers and to find each other through a central
directory. Record labels are furious. By November 2002, they shut it
2000 - The dotcom bust. After several years of venture
capitalists throwing money at proposals with 'internet' on the cover, it
all starts unravelling as many of these businesses fail to find a market
and other realise they don't have a business plan.
2001 - US regulators approve the merger of AOL and Time
Warner. Shareholders of relative upstart AOL own 55% of the new company.
AOL started in 1985 and grew its modest internet connection business
into one of the world's biggest media companies.
2003 - Nearly half of us are connected: UK telecomms regulator
Oftel reports that 47% of UK homes have internet access and 58% have a
PC. Of those online, 15% use broadband and 92% are satisfied with their
2004 - As broadband becomes more popular, media companies
start selling music and video online. Napster relaunches as a paid music
download store. It's up against iTunes, Apple's download store for its
trendy iPod portable music players.