History of the Internet


1957: U.S. forms Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA)

USSR launched Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite. The following year, the US formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) within the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish US leadership in science and technology applicable to the military.

1960s: ARPANET, the forerunner of today’s Internet, is created

ARPA wanted to create a computer network that would continue to function in the event of a disaster, such as a nuclear war, so that if part of the network was damaged or destroyed the rest of the system would work. That network was named ARPANET, (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), which linked US scientific and academic researchers. It was the forerunner of today's Internet. In time, ARPANET computers were installed at every university in the US that had defense related funding. Gradually, the Internet had gone from a military pipeline to a communications tool for scientists.

arapanet usa network

1970: ARPANET makes its first cross country connection

The first cross-country link installed by AT&T was between University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN).

the at sign

1972: E-mail is created by Ray Tomlinson at BBN. "@" symbol chosen to mean “at”

1973: ARPANET makes its first international connection

The first ARPANET connection outside the US was established to NORSAR in Norway in 1973, just before the connection to University College of London (England). ARPANET had 2000 users at this point, 75% which used it for email.

Vinton Cerf

1974: The Internet is born

The term “Internet” was coined by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine at Stanford University to describe a global transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) network, or the rules that allow for information to be sent back and forth over the Internet.

1976: Apple Computer is founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak

Prior to Apple, computers were sold in kits that required assembling. In 1977 Apple Computers introduced the Apple II, the world’s first personal computer, which was mass-marketed and pre-assembled allowing a wider range of people to use computers, focusing more on software applications and less on the development of the computer.

Compuserve logo

1979: CompuServe became the first online service provider to offer e-mail capabilities and technical support to personal computer users.

Compuserve was eventually purchased in 1998 by AOL, who arrived on the scene in the early 90’s. AOL came out with an aggressive marketing strategy, new social features such as chat rooms and online games, and an updated monthly vs. hourly pricing model which made the web much more affordable. Millions of new users signed up almost overnight making the web more mainstream.

1981: IBM announces its first Personal Computer (PC)

A team known as "Project Chess" built the IBM PC, which launched on August 12, 1981. Although not cheap, at a base price of US$1,565 it was affordable for businesses — and many businesses purchased PCs.

the world wide web

1989: ARPANET ends. Sir Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web, what we know as today’s modern Internet

The World Wide Web, or "the Web," although commonly confused with the Internet, is actually an application built on top of the Internet that connects hypertext pages or web pages. With a Web browser, one can view Web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them using hyperlinks. The World Wide Web enabled the spread of information over the Internet through an easy-to-use and flexible format. It thus played an important role in popularizing use of the Internet.

Mosaic logo

1993: Mosaic, the first web browser, is created

Mosaic is the web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. It was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and was one of the first to provide a multimedia graphical user interface that allowed users to more easily navigate the web by converting text commands to images. Mosaic was subsequently renamed Netscape Navigator, and the company took the 'Netscape' name on November 14, 1994.

Internet Explorer logo

1996: Start of browser wars with Netscape and Microsoft leading the charge

Netscape Navigator was the dominant and most widely used web browser at that time, while Microsoft had just released the first version of Internet Explorer as part of the Microsoft Windows 95 Plus! Pack. Over the next three years the two would introduce new features and battle it out for the most users.

Netscape was defeated by the end of 1998, after which the company was acquired by America Online. Internet Explorer became the new dominant browser, attaining a peak of about 96% of the web browser usage share during 2002, more than Netscape had at its peak.

network cables

1997: Broadband Internet is introduced

High-speed home networking was first introduced in 1997 with a cable modem. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) was introduced two years later. By 2001 cable and DSL subscriptions had quickly surpassed that of dial-up, as the faster speeds allowed users to utilize the newest web applications that were beginning to take shape.

1998: Search giant Google is founded

Google began as a research project of Larry Page and Sergey Brin while studying for their Ph.Ds at Stanford University. Convinced that the most relevant page associated with a search were the ones with the most links to them from other highly relevant web pages, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies and laid the foundation for their search engine, which today is the most visited site on the web and has become the most powerful brand in the world.

Time magazine cover

2006: Time names “You” person of the year and the rise of Web 2.0

With over 6 billion people online worldwide and the web becoming more accessible and user-friendly, social development tools like wikis, blogs, social networks and video sharing sites like YouTube arrive to give everyday people a platform to communicate, share and collaborate.  


2007: iPhone introduces mobile web

Apple computers introduces a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, which is multiple products in one: a phone, a web browser, a camera, a means to access "apps," and much more. The smartphone age begins.


2013: 56% of Americans own a smartphone

Smartphones become maintream with 56% of Americans owning a device. All manner of services, including banking, college and job application, are also now online. The Digital Divide is closing but 15% of Americans remain offline.