Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet. Vol. 3 - Wiring the World (1998)

by Robert X. Cringely

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Documentary Description

Nerds 2.0.1: A Brief History of the Internet (1998) is a three-hour documentary film written and hosted by Mark Stephens under the pseudonym Robert X. Cringely and produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting for PBS. This three-part sequel to the well-received Triumph of the Nerds, recaptures the same trendy style so effectively used by Robert Cringely. A sequel to Triumph of the Nerds, Nerds 2.0.1 documents the development of ARPANET, the Internet, the World Wide Web and the dot-com bubble of the mid- and late-1990s. It was broadcast two years prior to the collapse of the dot-com bubble.

The last part in this series hosted by Robert Cringely - Vol. 3,  Wiring the World - focuses on Excite, a hot, billion-dollar company started up by six Stanford graduates. Cringely continues to pursue information behind the massive development efforts of the many key players of the World Wide Web. One of these figures is Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with the design of the web, and who has fought to keep it free. Giants in the Internet corporate world, including Netscape and Microsoft, are closely examined.

The rise of the personal computer by Apple and IBM introduced the rest of the world to computing. At first, computers were the tools of technically inclined nerds, but new applications drew other people to the keyboard. With an affordable modem, people could connect with other computer enthusiasts and commercial online services. People were using the computer as Bush and Licklider had prophesized, as a medium to interact with other people.

Electronic Meeting Places

As the early computer visionaries (such as Licklider and Nelson) realized in the 1960s, people weren't satisfied with just interacting with their computers. They wanted to use their computers to interact with other people. Computer hobbyists soon came up with their own method of connecting computers over the telephone lines. Prices for modems made it possible for almost everyone to buy one and call other computers.

However, when the other computer answered there really wasn't much to do. Computer hackers wrote programs to answer the phone and interact with the caller, all done automatically without human supervision. Features like message boards, online games, and file exchange were added and a new business was born. The average computer enthusiast could buy (or download) the complete software needed to operate a bulletin board system and set it up themselves.

Although there were bulletin boards earlier, bulletin boards reached their height of popularity soon after 1980. Bulletin board systems were found in every town, and some were advertised in the local newspapers. For many it was a labor of love, and if they charged any money it was to cover the costs of operating the system. However, some of them saw a business opportunity and added value to their systems to attract paying customers.

Online Services

Founded several years before 1980, the Compuserve online service really took off in the early 1980s. They didn't supply access to the Internet yet, but they did give subscribers the opportunity to send email and exchange files with other people across the country and eventually around the world. Compuserve operated a computer center in Columbus, Ohio, but they set up local modem pools in large population centers making it easy for subscribers to dial-in from anywhere. Subscribers could also use access numbers provided by TELENET or TYMNET if Compuserve didnt provide a local phone number for their town.

When people connected to Compuserve in the early 1980s they didn't have the graphic interface taken for granted on the Web today. Instead, subscribers needed to use commands and key sequences to perform the simplest functions. Even with its difficult interface, people joined by the tens of thousands. Other entrepreneurs took notice and decided to join the business, including Delphi, Genie (from GTE), BIX (from BYTE magazine), and later America Online.

Prodigy the first large commercial service to add a graphic interface to the bulletin board system. Using a Macintosh or Windows computer, subscribers could click on icons instead of typing archaic commands.


Some of the community bulletin board systems lived on and prospered. One of the most famous is the WELL, created by Stewart Brand in 1985 using a personal computer on his houseboat in Sasalito, California. He claims that he created the bulletin board system as a virtual commune so he could experience the lifestyle without having to move into a real commune.

[ link: space war - stewart brand ]

Stewart BrandOn the WELL, members could create and host their own topical discussion boards, and the most popular one was devoted to the Grateful Dead, the Deadhead conference. One of the Sysops for the WELL was John Perry Barlow, who was also a lyricists for the Dead and a friend with band member Bob Weir since they met at a boarding school in Colorado.

People from all across the country called in to the bulletin board to join the online community. It was a successful experiment and was copied by other bulletin board systems. Using the WELL and the Internet, Brand and Barlow are now cyberspace activitists and are founding members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Spinning the Web

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, a computer programmer at CERN in Switzerland, began working on a way to provide access to research materials to everyone over the network. Tim Berners-Lee CERN had an international mix of researchers and a diverse collection of computers and operating systems. Reformating documents for each computer platform every time their content changed would require too much time and money.

While Berners-Lee was grappling with this problem, Mike Sendall, a fellow computer programmer at CERN, purchased a new NeXT workstation for evaluation. When he decided not to use it, he offered it to Berners-Lee. Berners-Lee was impressed with the NeXT cube's object-oriented operating system and it gave him an idea for a solution to the problem of distribution.

During the next year Berners-Lee worked on a system including a server to store documents and a client to request documents from the server. He finished the first working "browser" and server in 1991, but it was very primitive and displayed only text. At the time, all Berners-Lee wanted was a way for researchers to access text-based documents - nothing more. Others wanted more.

A Human Face

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champain had always been on the forefront of computer science. It was one of the first dozen nodes on the ARPAnet, and it was chosen to manage the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA). Much of the world's high-power computing happens at UIUC, but not necessarily on campus.

One of the strategies of the NCSA was to provide access to the supercomputers for the country's and world's researchers. Around the clock, scientists would submit jobs to the Cray supercomputers over the NSFnet (the successor to the ARPAnet) and download the output. An army of staff and students maintained the campus computers to keep the connection stable and open.

Marc Andreessen In 1992, a few of the students led by Marc Andreessen came across the World Wide Web protocol released from CERN. They thought it was a great idea, but it was clumsy for most people with a minimum of skill with the computer. They decided it would be a fun a potentially worthwhile project to write a friendlier, graphical interface on the browser. When they had one finished, people asked them to write one for their PC or the Macintosh. Eventually they released it on the Internet, and the downloads increased steadily. In 1993, Andreessen's Mosaic browser was used by over one million people around the world. He had a hit, but he didn't realize it, and it was the school's property.

After graduation, Andreessen found a job in Silicon Valley and moved away from Illinois. High-tech firms were on shaky ground as the computer business was uncertain about their future. Jim Clark, the founder of SGI, decided to retire and look for something new to work on. Clark found out the Andreessen was working nearby, so he arranged a meeting to talk about Mosaic.

Clark was impressed with Andreessen and his enthusiasm for the browser. He decided to invest in a new software company, but he wanted Andreessen to recruit everyone that was involved in writing the Mosaic browser at the University of Illinois. Both of them flew back to Illinois and offered six of the original seven a job in the new company - the seventh, Chris Wilson, had already been hired at Microsoft.

Jim ClarkJim Clark, who had started SGI directly from Stanford, assumed that the University of Illinois would act the same way as Stanford and be pleased to permit a commercial spin-off with a student-created product. Afterall, grateful graduates were generous donors. However, UIUC didn't see it that way and refused to relinquish the Mosaic name.

Andreessen and the Gang of Six eventually rewrote the browser and changed its name to Netscape Navigator (actually, they have always called it Mozilla). Clark used a unique marketing plan, one born for the Internet. Anyone could download it, but if they used it for their own business they had to pay for a license.

"In about a year and a half's time, we had 65 million users - the most rapidly assimilated product in history. No one had ever achieve an installed base of 65 million anything, except perhaps Microsoft."

Jim Clark


Open for Business

During the first twenty years of operation, the Internet was a restricted club of scientists, engineers, and administrators. Official policy for the Internet forbid anyone from using the network for personal gain or anything that didn't have a job-related function. That didn't stop the real hackers, though. Online recreations were a common menace for the network, filling up capacity with starship combat and menacing wizards. Traffic for the Web, gopherspace, WAIS, and hytelnet was taking the majority of the Internet's backbone, and little of it was essential to government research.

Commerce was still taboo for everybody on the Internet. Hackers and bureaucrats were in complete agreement that any commercialization of the Internet would only lead to its demise. However, the power of the Net was no longer a secret, and the business world was beginning to wonder if there was a profit in the Internet.

Rep. Rick Boucher

However, U.S. law was standing in their way. Like the sooners crossing the borders of the Oklahoma territory, some business was sneaking across the network, but it was still illegal. U.S. Rep. Frederick Boucher, from the 9th district of Virginia, proposed to drop the restrictions and give the Internet over to the citizens. In 1992, Boucher proposed an amendment to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 that "authorizes NSF to support the development and use of computer networks which may carry a substantial volume of traffic that does not conform to the current acceptable use policy."

Nobody had a real plan for making money on the Internet, but business dunked a toe to test the digital water and dove in. Soon everyone either had a Web site or was thinking of getting one. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Online Services (like Compuserve and AOL) were outgrowing their capacity with new members. Providing a connection to the Internet was a very profitable business, but online commerce wasn't as profitable as the predicted.

It took a few years before business on the Web began to show a profit. Online companies like and were created just for the Internet, based on revolutionary business models. Entreprenuers had to look at business in a new way, and sometimes only the younger minds could grasp the new concepts. The Internet has forced us to rethink more than how we conduct business.

The Future of the Internet

The networked world imagined by Bush, Licklider, Nelson, and others is finally becoming a reality after three decades and countless hours of late-night hacking and field testing. Many of the predicted benefits of the "Intergalactic Network" are being realized, but new paradigms are constantly created and either thrive or disappear. The "fast as light" pace of the Internet can kill or establish an idea quicker than a marketing department can come up with an ad campaign. One of the products that has thrived is the cross-platform language called Java.

James Gosling James Gosling, a senior programmer at Sun Microsystems, was working on the forefront of new ideas. He had already established himself as one of the world's best programmers, and his job at Sun was to push the limits of computers. However, in 1991 he felt like he was in a rut. Scott McNealy sensed something wrong and asked Gosling if there was a problem. Gosling told him the current operating systems were too restrictive and he wanted to create his own. McNealy told him to do it - no matter what the cost or amount of time.

After three years of hard work by Gosling and a handpicked team of programmers and hardware specialists, the result was Java. Its original intent was to embed a common operating system in household and office appliances, and network them together. A revolutionary idea, but the $20,000 price-tag for a "super" remote made it impractical. However, the cross-platform Java language was quickly accepted around the world for its other properties: cross-platform, object-oriented, network-secure, and easy to program.

A Bigger Pipe

Traffic on the Internet today includes Java applets, streaming video and audio, subscription channels, as well as HTML and email. The government has handed over several sections of the Internet to private companies, and the capacity of the Internet's backbone has been increased to keep up with the exponential growth in traffic. Over the last few years new technologies have widened bandwidth to handle the increased traffic, but engineers don't know how long they'll be able to keep ahead of demands on the network.

Yogi Bera once said that "nobody goes to that restaurant anymore because it's too crowded." Many experts in computer networks, such as Vint Cerf, are predicting an equivalent problem for the Internet in the near future. They warn that too much traffic will shut everything down. To prevent the problem, we'll need faster networks and more efficient protocols.

In answer, there are two competing LAN technologies promising a ten-fold increase in network speeds - ATM (Asynchronus Transfer Mode) and gigabit Ethernet. To handle the faster speeds, a new Internet Protocol has been proposed, IPng (IP new generation, or IPv6). It's designed to handle the growing size of the Internet and faster network speeds. Just as the ARPAnet was based on open standards, all three of these technologies are nonproprietery. And just as the ARPAnet spawned a new industry, new companies are popping up to market products - and some of the players are very familiar.

Larry Roberts is currently President and CEO of Packetcom, a company that designs switches for ATM. One of the leaders in gigabit Ethernet technologies, Granite Systems, was founded by Andy Bechtolsheim (from Sun), but he eventually sold that company to Cisco Systems. Cisco is laying bets on all possible outcomes with products for gigabit Ethernet, ATM, and IPng. To help administrators manage their routers, Cisco recently licensed Novell Directory Services technology (NDS) from Novell. NDS is written in Java. On the browser front, AOL has offered to buy Netscape for over $4 billion. Meanwhile, Microsoft still fights an anti-trust lawsuit with witnesses from Sun, Novell, Netscape, AOL, and others.

Cast of Characters

The Internet has a rich history with colorful characters and comlex plots. This Web site has only presented a small part of its history, and many more stories remain mostly untold. As for the future of the Internet, most people admit it is uncertain, but everyone must agree that it will certainly be interesting and remain an important part of our future.

The Internet is a rich history with a cast of hundreds of characters. While a few claim the title of "Father of the Internet", the Internet also has a large family of aunts and uncles. While we have listed many of them here, there are hundreds if not thousands who have made a significant contribution to what the Internet is today and what it will become in the future.

Norm Abramson

Marc Andreessen

Steve Ballmer

Paul Baran

Andy Bechtolsheim

Tim Berners-Lee

Rep. Frederick C. Boucher

Len Bosack

David Bradford

Stewart Brand

Vennevar Bush

Steve Case

Vint Cerf

Jim Clark

Bernie Cosell

Steve Crocker

Will Crowther

John Doerr

Willie Donahoo

Larry Ellison

Doug Engelbart

Bill Gates

James Gosling

Frank Heart

Steve Jobs

Bill Joy

Bob Kahn

Vinod Khosla

Len Kleinrock

Sandy Lerner

J.C.R. Licklider

Drew Major

John McAfee

Scott McNealy

Bob Metcalfe

Ted Nelson

Ray Noorda

Severo Ornstein

Jonathan Postel

Howard Rheingold

Larry Roberts

Eric Schmidt

Jon Shirley

Ivan Sutherland

Bob Taylor

Larry Tesler

Ray Tomlinson

Don Valentine

Dave Walden

Glossary of the Geek

ALOHAnet - Norm Abramson wanted to surf - so he moved to Hawaii in 1969. Abramson wanted to network with the other islands - so he built the ALOHAnet in 1970. From the University of Hawaii, Abramson connected computers over a network of radio transmitters using a protocol telling the computers how to share the airwaves. more of the story...

ARPA - Advanced Research Projects Agency, founded in 1957 in response to the Russian scientists beating our scientists in putting a satellite into orbit. more of the story...

ARPAnet - Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Bob Taylor came up with the idea of networking all the ARPA-funded computers together so he wouldn't have to change seats. more of the story...

Bandwidth - how much stuff you can cram onto the network. A wider bandwidth means more information in a shorter amount of time.

BBN group

BBN - Bolt, Beranek and Newman, in Cambridge, MA - founded by three partners in the 1950s as a consulting business in acoustic engineering. BBN shifted its business to computers as they became more important. In 1969, BBN was awarded the contract to build the first IMPs. more of the story...

Browser - software for navigating the Web, retrieving documents and other files, and displaying them on the user's screen. Two of the most popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Bulletin Board System (BBS) - the cyberspace equivalent to the office bulletin board, a BBS is software that allows users to post and read messages left by other users. Bulletin Board Systems were very popular in the 1980's when computer enthusiasts set up their own systems on personal computers. more of the story...

Domain Name - When the keepers of the Internet realized that the number of computers on the network was getting too much to handle with simple computer names, they came up with a new addressing system. They added the school, organization, or company name and a domain identifier to tell if it was commercial (com), educational (edu), or something else (org, etc.). The domain for the PBS Web server is "" and the full address "" is the domain name. Other countries have an additional identifier to tell which country it comes from - for example, ".uk" means it's located in the United Kingdom.

Ethernet - a networking technology to connect computers over a local area network invented by Bob Metcalfe and David Boggs at Xerox PARC. Named after the invisible, massless substance that 19th century scientists believed filled the universe. more of the story...

FTP - File Transfer Protocol. One of the first applications developed for the ARPAnet, it's still used to send and retrieve files across the Internet.

Graphical User Interface (GUI) - a visual, icon-driven interface for an operating system or other application. A nice little acronym pronounced "gooey."

Host - Just like a party's host is responsible for all the guests, a computer host takes care of any other computers visiting over a network. In the early days of networking, any computer was a potential host, so now any computer connected to a network is called a host.

HTML - HyperText Markup Language. Publishers have always needed to write down instructions to the printer telling them how they wanted the document to look. Eventually, the printing business developed a standard set of shorthand "markup" instructions or "tags". On the Web, publishers use a Hypertext Markup Language to instruct Web browsers how the document should look. Berners-Lee came up with the first set of HTML tags using a tag style defined by the OSI for their Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The HTML standard is currently defined and controlled by the World Wide Web Consortium.

HTTP - Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is a set of instructions on how Web browsers and servers talk to each other.

Hypertext - a document formatting that allows documents to be linked by making certain words or phrases "clickable." When the link is followed, the information on the second document is related to the word in the first document. Hypertext is the formatting used on the World Wide Web.

installing IMP at UCLA

IMP - Interface Messaging Processor - these were the minicomputers that connected each node on the ARPAnet to the network. Built by BBN, each was a refrigerator-sized Honeywell DDP-516 computer with a whopping 12k of memory. more of the story...

Internet - An internet is a group of networks connected together. The Internet (note the capital "I") refers to the global connection of networks around the world.

InterNIC - a collaborative project by Network Solutions, Inc., and AT&T (supported by the NSF) which provides four services to the Internet community. A "white pages" directory of domain names, IP addresses, and publicly accessible databases, domain name and IP address registration, support services for the Internet community, and an online publication summarizing information of interest to the online community.

IP - Internet Protocol, a protocol telling how packets on an internet are addressed and routed. The second part of TCP/IP.

Java - a high-level, object oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems that runs on most operating platforms. One of the original purposes of the language was to create a common language for all the "smart" appliances in the house. The ultimate in cross-platform, Java was going to let your TV and toaster speak the same language. Its new mission is to provide a language that programmers can use to write applications anyone can use on any computer. more of the story...

Javascript - A scripting language developed by Netscape Communications to add interactivity to Web pages. It really has little to do with Java, but Javascript is supposed to work across platforms and browsers.

Killer Application - Every step in the development of computers had a special application that made that step work and succeed - a killer app. For the personal computer it was the spread-sheet, and for the Internet it was email.

Local Area Network (LAN) - a group of computers, usually all in the same room or building, connected for the purpose of sharing files, exchanging email, and collaboration.

Mainframe - a large, multi-user computer. Before personal computers were available, businesses and universities purchased large and expensive mainframes and housed them away in large, air-conditioned rooms.

Metcalfe's Law - Metcalfe believes that a network's worth is directly related to the number of people on the networking. In the language of math, his law says "where N is the number of nodes, the power of a network is N squared."

old modem

Modem - modulator/demodulator - a device that converts digital (binary) signals from a computer into analog signals suitable for transmission over a phone line. On the other end, another modem it receives analog signals from a phone line and translates the analog signal back into digital bits.

MOSAIC - Soon after Marc Andreessen saw what the new World Wide Web could do in 1992, he thought a graphical interface for the browser would let everyone use the Web. He and seven other student programmers at the University of Illinois wrote the world's frist graphics Web browser, Mosaic, in 1992. more of the story...

NSFnet - A wide-area network developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1985. NSFnet replaced ARPAnet as the main government network linking universities and research facilities in 1990.

Node- a processing location on a network.

Packet - to send a message over a packet-switched network, the whole message it first cut up into smaller "packets" and each is numbered and labeled with an address saying where it came from and another saying where its going.

Packet switching - the technology that made large-scale computer networking possible. Instead of a dedicated connection between two computers, messages are divided up into packets and transmitted over a decentralized network. Once all the packets arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message. more of the story...

Protocol - format or set of rules for communication, either over a network or between applications.

Router - a descendent of the IMP, a router directs packets between separate local area networks. To make the connection more efficient, a router reads each packet's header and directs it in the fastest direction. more of the story...

Search Engine - a program accessible on the Web which has a catalog of scanned Web sites in a large database. The user enters a list of keyword or search parameters, and the search engine creates a list of matches for the user to choose from.

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, first defined by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn in 1973, the protocol made the Internet possible and has become the default network protocol around the world. more of the story...

Vint Cerf telnet

TELNET - Terminal Emulation. Telnet allows a user at a remote computer to log on to another computer over a network and enter commands at a prompt as if they were directly connected to the remote computer.

Unix - an operating system developed by Kerrigan and Richie at AT&T Bell Labs in the late 1960's. It was written entirely in the C programming language, which made it easier to port to other platforms. It is still the primary operating system for the biggest servers on the Internet.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator, the address of a document or other resource reachable on the Internet. A URL has three components, specifying the protocol, server domain name, and the file location. For example, "" specifies using the HTTP protocol (others include ftp or gopher), on the server, and the file "/nerds201/index.html."

Usenet - A worldwide bulletin board system that can be accessed through the Internet or through many online services. The USENET contains more than 14,000 forums, called newsgroups, which cover almost every imaginable interest group. Created years before the Web, It is still used daily by millions of people around the world.

World Wide Web (WWW) - The protocol devised and implemented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 to help researchers at CERN share information across a diverse computer network. more of the story...

Xanadu - a networked, non-sequential, hyperlinked system of documents and multimedia objects first proposed by Ted Nelson in 1965. Nelson's system was similar to the World Wide Web, but included the ability to compose documents from sections scattered around the network and a method of making micro-payments to copyright holders. more of the story...

Xerox PARC - The Palo Alto Research Center was built by Xerox in the early 1970s to keep them ahead of the other office equipment companies in developing the office of the future. It is the location of many of the innovations that have changed the computer and communications.


Hobbes' Internet Timeline v8.2


Hobbes' Internet Timeline Copyright (c)1993-2006 by Robert H Zakon. Permission is granted for use of this document in whole or in part for non-commercial purposes as long as this Copyright notice and a link to this document, at the archive listed at the end, is included. A copy of the material the Timeline appears in is requested. For commercial uses, please contact the author first. Links to this document are welcome after e-mailing the author with the document URL where the link will appear. As the Timeline is frequently updated, copies to other locations on the Internet are not permitted.

If you enjoy the Timeline or make use of it in some way, please consider a contribution.



USSR launches Sputnik, first artificial earth satellite. In response, US forms the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), the following year, within the Department of Defense (DoD) to establish US lead in science and technology applicable to the military (:amk:)



Leonard Kleinrock, MIT: "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets" (May 31)

* First paper on packet-switching (PS) theory


J.C.R. Licklider & W. Clark, MIT: "On-Line Man Computer Communication" (August)

* Galactic Network concept encompassing distributed social interactions


Paul Baran, RAND: "On Distributed Communications Networks"

* Packet-switching networks; no single outage point


ARPA sponsors study on "cooperative network of time-sharing computers"

* TX-2 at MIT Lincoln Lab and AN/FSQ-32 at System Development Corporation (Santa Monica, CA) are directly linked (without packet switches) via a dedicated 1200bps phone line; Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) computer at ARPA later added to form "The Experimental Network"


Lawrence G. Roberts, MIT: "Towards a Cooperative Network of Time-Shared Computers" (October)

* First ARPANET plan


ARPANET design discussions held by Larry Roberts at ARPA IPTO PI meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan (April)

ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles in Gatlinburg, Tennessee (October)

* First design paper on ARPANET published by Larry Roberts: "Multiple Computer Networks and Intercomputer Communication

* First meeting of the three independent packet network teams (RAND, NPL, ARPA)

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Middlesex, England develops NPL Data Network under Donald Watts Davies who coins the term packet. The NPL network, an experiment in packet-switching, used 768kbps lines


PS-network presented to the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)

Request for quotation for ARPANET (29 Jul) sent out in August; responses received in September

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) awarded Network Measurement Center contract in October

Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) awarded Packet Switch contract to build Interface Message Processors (IMPs)

US Senator Edward Kennedy sends a congratulatory telegram to BBN for its million-dollar ARPA contract to build the "Interfaith" Message Processor, and thanking them for their ecumenical efforts

Network Working Group (NWG), headed by Steve Crocker, loosely organized to develop host level protocols for communication over the ARPANET. (:vgc:)

Tymnet built as part of Tymshare service (:vgc:)


ARPANET commissioned by DoD for research into networking

Nodes are stood up as BBN builds each IMP [Honeywell DDP-516 mini computer with 12K of memory]; AT&T provides 50kbps lines

Node 1: UCLA (30 August, hooked up 2 September)

* Function: Network Measurement Center

* System,OS: SDS SIGMA 7, SEX

* Diagram of the first host to IMP connection

Node 2: Stanford Research Institute (SRI) (1 October)

* Network Information Center (NIC)

* SDS940/Genie

* Doug Engelbart's project on "Augmentation of Human Intellect"

Node 3: University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) (1 November)

* Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics

* IBM 360/75, OS/MVT

Node 4: University of Utah (December)

* Graphics

* DEC PDP-10, Tenex

Diagram of the 4-node ARPAnet

First Request for Comment (RFC): "Host Software" by Steve Crocker (7 April)

RFC 4: Network Timetable

First packets sent by Charley Kline at UCLA as he tried logging into SRI. The first attempt resulted in the system crashing as the letter G of LOGIN was entered. (October 29) [ Log entry ]

Univ of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State Univ establish X.25-based Merit network for students, faculty, alumni (:sw1:)



First publication of the original ARPANET Host-Host protocol: C.S. Carr, S. Crocker, V.G. Cerf, "HOST-HOST Communication Protocol in the ARPA Network," in AFIPS Proceedings of SJCC (:vgc:)

First report on ARPANET at AFIPS: "Computer Network Development to Achieve Resource Sharing" (March)

ALOHAnet, the first packet radio network, developed by Norman Abramson, Univ of Hawaii, becomes operational (July) (:sk2:)

* connected to the ARPANET in 1972

ARPANET hosts start using Network Control Protocol (NCP), first host-to-host protocol

First cross-country link installed by AT&T between UCLA and BBN at 56kbps. This line is later replaced by another between BBN and RAND. A second line is added between MIT and Utah


15 nodes (23 hosts): UCLA, SRI, UCSB, Univ of Utah, BBN, MIT, RAND, SDC, Harvard, Lincoln Lab, Stanford, UIU(C), CWRU, CMU, NASA/Ames

BBN starts building IMPs using the cheaper Honeywell 316. IMPs however are limited to 4 host connections, and so BBN develops a terminal IMP (TIP) that supports up to 64 terminals (September)

Ray Tomlinson of BBN invents email program to send messages across a distributed network. The original program was derived from two others: an intra-machine email program (SENDMSG) and an experimental file transfer program (CPYNET) (:amk:irh:)

Project Gutenberg is started by Michael Hart with the purpose of making copyright-free works, including books, electronically available. The first text is the US Declaration of Independence (:dhr,msh:)


Ray Tomlinson (BBN) modifies email program for ARPANET where it becomes a quick hit. The @ sign was chosen from the punctuation keys on Tomlinson's Model 33 Teletype for its "at" meaning (March)

Larry Roberts writes first email management program (RD) to list, selectively read, file, forward, and respond to messages (July)

International Conference on Computer Communications (ICCC) at the Washington D.C. Hilton with demonstration of ARPANET between 40 machines and the Terminal Interface Processor (TIP) organized by Bob Kahn. (October)

First computer-to-computer chat takes place at UCLA, and is repeated during ICCC, as psychotic PARRY (at Stanford) discusses its problems with the Doctor (at BBN).

International Network Working Group (INWG) formed in October as a result of a meeting at ICCC identifying the need for a combined effort in advancing networking technologies. Vint Cerf appointed first Chair. By 1974, INWG became IFIP WG 6.1 (:vgc:)

Louis Pouzin leads the French effort to build its own ARPANET - CYCLADES

RFC 318: Telnet specification


First international connections to the ARPANET: University College of London (England) via NORSAR (Norway)

Bob Metcalfe's Harvard PhD Thesis outlines idea for Ethernet. The concept was tested on Xerox PARC's Alto computers, and the first Ethernet network called the Alto Aloha System (May) (:amk:)

Bob Kahn poses Internet problem, starts Internetting research program at ARPA. Vinton Cerf sketches gateway architecture in March on back of envelope in a San Francisco hotel lobby (:vgc:)

Cerf and Kahn present basic Internet ideas at INWG in September at Univ of Sussex, Brighton, UK (:vgc:)

RFC 454: File Transfer specification

Network Voice Protocol (NVP) specification (RFC 741) and implementation enabling conference calls over ARPAnet. (:bb1:)

SRI (NIC) begins publishing ARPANET News in March; number of ARPANET users estimated at 2,000

ARPA study shows email composing 75% of all ARPANET traffic

Christmas Day Lockup - Harvard IMP hardware problem leads it to broadcast zero-length hops to any ARPANET destination, causing all other IMPs to send their traffic to Harvard (25 December)


RFC 602: The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney with Care


Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn publish "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection" which specified in detail the design of a Transmission Control Program (TCP). [IEEE Trans Comm] (:amk:)

BBN opens Telenet, the first public packet data service (a commercial version of ARPANET) (:sk2:)


Operational management of Internet transferred to DCA (now DISA)

First ARPANET mailing list, MsgGroup, is created by Steve Walker. Einar Stefferud soon took over as moderator as the list was not automated at first. A science fiction list, SF-Lovers, was to become the most popular unofficial list in the early days

John Vittal develops MSG, the first all-inclusive email program providing replying, forwarding, and filing capabilities.

Satellite links cross two oceans (to Hawaii and UK) as the first TCP tests are run over them by Stanford, BBN, and UCL

"Jargon File", by Raphael Finkel at SAIL, first released (:esr:)

Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (:pds:)


Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom sends out an email on 26 March from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern

UUCP (Unix-to-Unix CoPy) developed at AT&T Bell Labs and distributed with UNIX one year later.

Multiprocessing Pluribus IMPs are deployed


THEORYNET created by Larry Landweber at Univ of Wisconsin providing electronic mail to over 100 researchers in computer science (using a locally developed email system over TELENET)

RFC 733: Mail specification

Tymshare spins out Tymnet under pressure from TELENET. Both go on to develop X.25 protocol standard for virtual circuit style packet switching (:vgc:)

First demonstration of ARPANET/SF Bay Packet Radio Net/Atlantic SATNET operation of Internet protocols with BBN-supplied gateways in July (:vgc:)


TCP split into TCP and IP (March)



Meeting between Univ of Wisconsin, DARPA, National Science Foundation (NSF), and computer scientists from many universities to establish a Computer Science Department research computer network (organized by Larry Landweber).

USENET established using UUCP between Duke and UNC by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, and Steve Bellovin. All original groups were under net.* hierarchy.

First MUD, MUD1, by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw at U of Essex

ARPA establishes the Internet Configuration Control Board (ICCB)

Packet Radio Network (PRNET) experiment starts with DARPA funding. Most communications take place between mobile vans. ARPANET connection via SRI.

On April 12, Kevin MacKenzie emails the MsgGroup a suggestion of adding some emotion back into the dry text medium of email, such as -) for indicating a sentence was tongue-in-cheek. Though flamed by many at the time, emoticons became widely used after Scott Fahlman suggested the use of :-) and :-( in a CMU BBS on 19 September 1982



ARPANET grinds to a complete halt on 27 October because of an accidentally-propagated status-message virus

First C/30-based IMP at BBN


BITNET, the "Because It's Time NETwork"

* Started as a cooperative network at the City University of New York, with the first connection to Yale (:feg:)

* Original acronym stood for 'There' instead of 'Time' in reference to the free NJE protocols provided with the IBM systems

* Provides electronic mail and listserv servers to distribute information, as well as file transfers

CSNET (Computer Science NETwork) built by a collaboration of computer scientists and Univ of Delaware, Purdue Univ, Univ of Wisconsin, RAND Corporation and BBN through seed money granted by NSF to provide networking services (especially email) to university scientists with no access to ARPANET. CSNET later becomes known as the Computer and Science Network. (:amk,lhl:)

C/30 IMPs predominate the network; first C/30 TIP at SAC

Minitel (Teletel) is deployed across France by France Telecom.

True Names by Vernor Vinge (:pds:)

RFC 801: NCP/TCP Transition Plan


Norway leaves network to become an Internet connection via TCP/IP over SATNET; UCL does the same

DCA and ARPA establish the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, for ARPANET. (:vgc:)

* This leads to one of the first definitions of an "internet" as a connected set of networks, specifically those using TCP/IP, and "Internet" as connected TCP/IP internets.

* DoD declares TCP/IP suite to be standard for DoD (:vgc:)

EUnet (European UNIX Network) is created by EUUG to provide email and USENET services. (:glg:)

* original connections between the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and UK

Exterior Gateway Protocol (RFC 827) specification. EGP is used for gateways between networks.


Name server developed at Univ of Wisconsin, no longer requiring users to know the exact path to other systems

Cutover from NCP to TCP/IP (1 January)

No more Honeywell or Pluribus IMPs; TIPs replaced by TACs (terminal access controller)

Stuttgart and Korea get connected

Movement Information Net (MINET) started early in the year in Europe, connected to Internet in Sept

CSNET / ARPANET gateway put in place

ARPANET split into ARPANET and MILNET; the latter became integrated with the Defense Data Network created the previous year. 68 of the 113 existing nodes went to MILNET

Desktop workstations come into being, many with Berkeley UNIX (4.2 BSD) which includes IP networking software (:mpc:)

Networking needs switch from having a single, large time sharing computer connected to the Internet at each site, to instead connecting entire local networks

Internet Activities Board (IAB) established, replacing ICCB

EARN (European Academic and Research Network) established. Very similar to the way BITNET works with a gateway funded by IBM-Europe

FidoNet developed by Tom Jennings


Domain Name System (DNS) introduced

Number of hosts breaks 1,000

JUNET (Japan Unix Network) established using UUCP

JANET (Joint Academic Network) established in the UK using the Coloured Book protocols; previously SERCnet

Moderated newsgroups introduced on USENET (mod.*)

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Canada begins a one-year effort to network its universities. The NetNorth Network is connected to BITNET in Ithaca from Toronto (:kf1:)

Kremvax message announcing USSR connectivity to USENET


Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) started

Information Sciences Institute (ISI) at USC is given responsibility for DNS root management by DCA, and SRI for DNS NIC registrations is assigned on 15 March to become the first registered domain. Other firsts:,,,,,, (24 Apr); (23 May); (24 may); (June);, .uk (July)

100 years to the day of the last spike being driven on the cross-Canada railroad, the last Canadian university is connected to NetNorth in a one year effort to have coast-to-coast connectivity. (:kf1:)

RFC 968: 'Twas the Night Before Start-up


NSFNET created (backbone speed of 56Kbps)

* NSF establishes 5 super-computing centers to provide high-computing power for all ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Theory [email protected]).

* This allows an explosion of connections, especially from universities.

NSF-funded SDSCNET, JVNCNET, SURANET, and NYSERNET operational (:sw1:)

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) comes into existence under the IAB. First IETF meeting held in January at Linkabit in San Diego

The first Freenet (Cleveland) comes on-line 16 July under the auspices of the Society for Public Access Computing (SoPAC). Later Freenet program management assumed by the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN) in 1989 (:sk2,rab:)

Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) designed to enhance Usenet news performance over TCP/IP.

Mail Exchanger (MX) records developed by Craig Partridge allow non-IP network hosts to have domain addresses.

The great USENET name change; moderated newsgroups changed in 1987.

BARRNET (Bay Area Regional Research Network) established using high speed links. Operational in 1987.

New England gets cut off from the Net as AT&T suffers a fiber optics cable break between Newark/NJ and White Plains/NY. Yes, all seven New England ARPANET trunk lines were in the one severed cable. Outage took place between 1:11 and 12:11 EST on 12 December

.fi is registered by members of the Finnish Unix User Group (FUUG) in Tampere (12 Dec)


NSF signs a cooperative agreement to manage the NSFNET backbone with Merit Network, Inc. (IBM and MCI involvement was through an agreement with Merit). Merit, IBM, and MCI later founded ANS.

UUNET is founded with Usenix funds to provide commercial UUCP and Usenet access. Originally an experiment by Rick Adams and Mike O'Dell

First TCP/IP Interoperability Conference (March), name changed in 1988 to INTEROP

Email link established between Germany and China using CSNET protocols, with the first message from China sent on 20 September. (:wz1:)

The concept and plan for a national US research and education network is proposed by Gordon Bell et al in a report to the Office of Science and Technology, written in response to a congressional request by Al Gore. (Nov) It would take four years until the establishment of this network by Congress (:gb1:)

1000th RFC: "Request For Comments reference guide"

Number of hosts breaks 10,000

Number of BITNET hosts breaks 1,000


2 November - Internet worm burrows through the Net, affecting ~6,000 of the 60,000 hosts on the Internet (:ph1:)

CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) formed by DARPA in response to the needs exhibited during the Morris worm incident. The worm is the only advisory issued this year.

DoD chooses to adopt OSI and sees use of TCP/IP as an interim. US Government OSI Profile (GOSIP) defines the set of protocols to be supported by Government purchased products (:gck:)

Los Nettos network created with no federal funding, instead supported by regional members (founding: Caltech, TIS, UCLA, USC, ISI).

NSFNET backbone upgraded to T1 (1.544Mbps)

CERFnet (California Education and Research Federation network) founded by Susan Estrada.

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) established in December with Jon Postel as its Director. Postel was also the RFC Editor and US Domain registrar for many years.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed by Jarkko Oikarinen (:zby:)

First Canadian regionals join NSFNET: ONet via Cornell, RISQ via Princeton, BCnet via Univ of Washington (:ec1:)

FidoNet gets connected to the Net, enabling the exchange of email and news (:tp1:)

The first multicast tunnel is established between Stanford and BBN in the Summer of 1988.

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Canada (CA), Denmark (DK), France (FR), Iceland (IS), Norway (NO), Sweden (SE)


Number of hosts breaks 100,000

RIPE (Reseaux IP Europeens) formed (by European service providers) to ensure the necessary administrative and technical coordination to allow the operation of the pan-European IP Network. (:glg:)

First relays between a commercial electronic mail carrier and the Internet: MCI Mail through the Corporation for the National Research Initiative (CNRI), and CompuServe through Ohio State Univ (:jg1,ph1:)

Corporation for Research and Education Networking (CREN) is formed by merging CSNET into BITNET (August)

AARNET - Australian Academic Research Network - set up by AVCC and CSIRO; introduced into service the following year (:gmc:)

First link between Australia and NSFNET via Hawaii on 23 June. Australia had been limited to USENET access since the early 1980s

Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll tells the real-life tale of a German cracker group who infiltrated numerous US facilities

UCLA sponsors the Act One symposium to celebrate ARPANET's 20th anniversary and its decommissioning (August)

RFC 1121: Act One - The Poems


Countries connecting to NSFNET: Australia (AU), Germany (DE), Israel (IL), Italy (IT), Japan (JP), Mexico (MX), Netherlands (NL), New Zealand (NZ), Puerto Rico (PR), United Kingdom (UK)



ARPANET ceases to exist

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is founded by Mitch Kapor

Archie released by Peter Deutsch, Alan Emtage, and Bill Heelan at McGill

Hytelnet released by Peter Scott (Univ of Saskatchewan)

The World comes on-line (, becoming the first commercial provider of Internet dial-up access

ISO Development Environment (ISODE) developed to provide an approach for OSI migration for the DoD. ISODE software allows OSI application to operate over TCP/IP (:gck:)

CA*net formed by 10 regional networks as national Canadian backbone with direct connection to NSFNET (:ec1:)

The first remotely operated machine to be hooked up to the Internet, the Internet Toaster by John Romkey, (controlled via SNMP) makes its debut at Interop.

Czechoslovakia (.cs) connects to EARN/BitNet (11 Oct); .cs deleted in 1993

RFC 1149: A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers. Implementation is completed 11 years later by the Bergen Linux Users Group (28 Apr 2001)

RFC 1178: Choosing a Name for Your Computer

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Argentina (AR), Austria (AT), Belgium (BE), Brazil (BR), Chile (CL), Greece (GR), India (IN), Ireland (IE), Korea (KR), Spain (ES), Switzerland (CH)


First connection takes place between Brazil, by Fapesp, and the Internet at 9600 baud.

Commercial Internet eXchange (CIX) Association, Inc. formed by General Atomics (CERFnet), Performance Systems International, Inc. (PSInet), and UUNET Technologies, Inc. (AlterNet), after NSF lifts restrictions on the commercial use of the Net (March) (:glg:)

Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS), invented by Brewster Kahle, released by Thinking Machines Corporation

Gopher released by Paul Lindner and Mark P. McCahill from the Univ of Minnesota

World-Wide Web (WWW) released by CERN; Tim Berners-Lee developer (:pb1:). First Web server is, launched in Nov 1990 and later renamed

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) released by Philip Zimmerman (:ad1:)

US High Performance Computing Act (Gore 1) establishes the National Research and Education Network (NREN)

NSFNET backbone upgraded to T3 (44.736Mbps)

NSFNET traffic passes 1 trillion bytes/month and 10 billion packets/month

Defense Data Network NIC contract awarded by DISA to Government Systems Inc. who takes over from SRI in May

Start of JANET IP Service (JIPS) which signaled the changeover from Coloured Book software to TCP/IP within the UK academic network. IP was initially 'tunneled' within X.25. (:gst:)

RFC 1216: Gigabit Network Economics and Paradigm Shifts

RFC 1217: Memo from the Consortium for Slow Commotion Research (CSCR)

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Croatia (HR), Hong Kong (HK), Hungary (HU), Poland (PL), Portugal (PT), Singapore (SG), South Africa (ZA), Taiwan (TW), Tunisia (TN)


Internet Society (ISOC) is chartered (January)

IAB reconstituted as the Internet Architecture Board and becomes part of the Internet Society

Number of hosts breaks 1,000,000

First MBONE audio multicast (March) and video multicast (November)

RIPE Network Coordination Center (NCC) created in April to provide address registration and coordination services to the European Internet community (:dk1:)

Veronica, a gopherspace search tool, is released by Univ of Nevada

World Bank comes on-line

The term "surfing the Internet" is coined by Jean Armour Polly (:jap:); Brendan Kehoe uses the term "net-surfing" as early as 6 June 1991 in a USENET post (:bt1:)

Zen and the Art of the Internet is published by Brendan Kehoe (:jap:)

Internet Hunt started by Rick Gates

RFC 1300: Remembrances of Things Past

RFC 1313: Today's Programming for KRFC AM 1313 - Internet Talk Radio

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Antarctica (AQ), Cameroon (CM), Cyprus (CY), Ecuador (EC), Estonia (EE), Kuwait (KW), Latvia (LV), Luxembourg (LU), Malaysia (MY), Slovenia (SI), Thailand (TH), Venezuela (VE)


InterNIC created by NSF to provide specific Internet services: (:sc1:)

* directory and database services (AT&T)

* registration services (Network Solutions Inc.)

* information services (General Atomics/CERFnet)

US White House comes on-line (

* President Bill Clinton: [email protected]

* Vice-President Al Gore: [email protected]

Worms of a new kind find their way around the Net - WWW Worms (W4), joined by Spiders, Wanderers, Crawlers, and Snakes ...

Internet Talk Radio begins broadcasting (:sk2:)

United Nations (UN) comes on-line (:vgc:)

US National Information Infrastructure Act

Businesses and media begin taking notice of the Internet

.sk (Slovakia) and .cz (Czech Republic) created after split of Czechoslovakia; .cs decomissioned

InterCon International KK (IIKK) provides Japan's first commercial Internet connection in September. TWICS, though an IIKK leased line, begins offering dial-up accounts the following month (:tb1:)

Mosaic takes the Internet by storm (22 Apr); WWW proliferates at a 341,634% annual growth rate of service traffic. Gopher's growth is 997%.

RFC 1437: The Extension of MIME Content-Types to a New Medium

RFC 1438: IETF Statements of Boredom (SOBs)

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Bulgaria (BG), Costa Rica (CR), Egypt (EG), Fiji (FJ), Ghana (GH), Guam (GU), Indonesia (ID), Kazakhstan (KZ), Kenya (KE), Liechtenstein (LI), Peru (PE), Romania (RO), Russian Federation (RU), Turkey (TR), Ukraine (UA), UAE (AE), US Virgin Islands (VI)


ARPANET/Internet celebrates 25th anniversary

Communities begin to be wired up directly to the Internet (Lexington and Cambridge, Mass., USA)

US Senate and House provide information servers

Shopping malls arrive on the Internet

First cyberstation, RT-FM, broadcasts from Interop in Las Vegas

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) suggests that GOSIP should incorporate TCP/IP and drop the "OSI-only" requirement (:gck:)

Arizona law firm of Canter & Siegel "spams" the Internet with email advertising green card lottery services; Net citizens flame back

NSFNET traffic passes 10 trillion bytes/month

Yes, it's true - you can now order pizza from the Hut online

WWW edges out telnet to become 2nd most popular service on the Net (behind ftp-data) based on % of packets and bytes traffic distribution on NSFNET

Japanese Prime Minister on-line (

UK's HM Treasury on-line (

New Zealand's Info Tech Prime Minister on-line (

First Virtual, the first cyberbank, open up for business

Radio stations start rockin' (rebroadcasting) round the clock on the Net: WXYC at Univ of NC, KJHK at Univ of KS-Lawrence, KUGS at Western WA Univ

IPng recommended by IETF at its Toronto meeting (July) and approved by IESG in November. Later documented as RFC 1752

The first banner ads appear on in October. They were for Zima (a beverage) and AT&T

Trans-European Research and Education Network Association (TERENA) is formed by the merger of RARE and EARN, with representatives from 38 countries as well as CERN and ECMWF. TERENA's aim is to "promote and participate in the development of a high quality international information and telecommunications infrastructure for the benefit of research and education" (October)

After noticing that many network software vendors used in their documentation examples, Bill Woodcock and Jon Postel register the domain. Sure enough, after looking at the domain access logs, it was evident that many users were using the example domain in configuring their applications.

RFC 1605: SONET to Sonnet Translation

RFC 1606: A Historical Perspective On The Usage Of IP Version 9


Countries connecting to NSFNET: Algeria (DZ), Armenia (AM), Bermuda (BM), Burkina Faso (BF), China (CN), Colombia (CO), Jamaica (JM), Jordan (JO), Lebanon (LB), Lithuania (LT), Macao (MO), Morocco (MA), New Caledonia (NC), Nicaragua (NI), Niger (NE), Panama (PA), Philippines (PH), Senegal (SN), Sri Lanka (LK), Swaziland (SZ), Uruguay (UY), Uzbekistan (UZ)

Top 10 Domains by Host #: com, edu, uk, gov, de, ca, mil, au, org, net


NSFNET reverts back to a research network. Main US backbone traffic now routed through interconnected network providers

The new NSFNET is born as NSF establishes the very high speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS) linking super-computing centers: NCAR, NCSA, SDSC, CTC, PSC

Neda Rayaneh Institute (NRI), Iran's first commercial provider, comes online, connecting via satellite to Cadvision, a Canadian provider (:rm1:)

Hong Kong police disconnect all but one of the colony's Internet providers for failure to obtain a license; thousands of users are left without service (:kf2:)

Sun launches JAVA on May 23

RealAudio, an audio streaming technology, lets the Net hear in near real-time

Radio HK, the first commercial 24 hr., Internet-only radio station starts broadcasting

WWW surpasses ftp-data in March as the service with greatest traffic on NSFNet based on packet count, and in April based on byte count

Traditional online dial-up systems (CompuServe, America Online, Prodigy) begin to provide Internet access

Chris Lamprecht (aka "Minor Threat") becomes the first person banned from accessing the Internet by a US District Court judge in Texas

Thousands in Minneapolis-St. Paul (USA) lose Net access after transients start a bonfire under a bridge at the Univ of MN causing fiber-optic cables to melt (30 July)

A number of Net related companies go public, with Netscape leading the pack with the 3rd largest ever NASDAQ IPO share value (9 August)

Registration of domain names is no longer free. Beginning 14 September, a $50 annual fee has been imposed, which up until now was subsidized by NSF. NSF continues to pay for .edu registration, and on an interim basis for .gov

The Vatican comes on-line (

The Canadian Government comes on-line (

The first official Internet wiretap was successful in helping the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) apprehend three individuals who were illegally manufacturing and selling cell phone cloning equipment and electronic devices

Operation Home Front connects, for the first time, soldiers in the field with their families back home via the Internet.

Richard White becomes the first person to be declared a munition, under the USA's arms export control laws, because of an RSA file security encryption program tattooed on his arm (:wired496:)

RFC 1882: The 12-Days of Technology Before Christmas

Country domains registered: Ethiopia (ET), Cote d'Ivoire (CI), Cook Islands (CK) Cayman Islands (KY), Anguilla (AI), Gibraltar (GI), Vatican (VA), Kiribati (KI), Kyrgyzstan (KG), Madagascar (MG), Mauritius (MU), Micronesia (FM), Monaco (MC), Mongolia (MN), Nepal (NP), Nigeria (NG), Western Samoa (WS), San Marino (SM), Tanzania (TZ), Tonga (TO), Uganda (UG), Vanuatu (VU)

Top 10 Domains by Host #: com, edu, net, gov, mil, org, de, uk, ca, au

Technologies of the Year: WWW, Search engines

Emerging Technologies: Mobile code (JAVA, JAVAscript), Virtual environments (VRML), Collaborative tools

Hacks of the Year: The Spot (Jun 12), Hackers Movie Page (12 Aug)


Internet phones catch the attention of US telecommunication companies who ask the US Congress to ban the technology (which has been around for years)

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, PLO Leader Yasser Arafat, and Phillipine President Fidel Ramos meet for ten minutes in an online interactive chat session on 17 January.

The controversial US Communications Decency Act (CDA) becomes law in the US in order to prohibit distribution of indecent materials over the Net. A few months later a three-judge panel imposes an injunction against its enforcement. Supreme Court unanimously rules most of it unconstitutional in 1997.

9,272 organizations find themselves unlisted after the InterNIC drops their name service as a result of not having paid their domain name fee

Various ISPs suffer extended service outages, bringing into question whether they will be able to handle the growing number of users. AOL (19 hours), Netcom (13 hours), AT&T WorldNet (28 hours - email only)

Domain name sold to CNET for US$15,000

New York's Public Access Networks Corp (PANIX) is shut down after repeated SYN attacks by a cracker using methods outlined in a hacker magazine (2600)

MCI upgrades Internet backbone adding ~13,000 ports, bringing the effective speed from 155Mbps to 622Mbps.

The Internet Ad Hoc Committee announces plans to add 7 new generic Top Level Domains (gTLD): .firm, .store, .web, .arts, .rec, .info, .nom. The IAHC plan also calls for a competing group of domain registrars worldwide.

A malicious cancelbot is released on USENET wiping out more than 25,000 messages

The WWW browser war, fought primarily between Netscape and Microsoft, has rushed in a new age in software development, whereby new releases are made quarterly with the help of Internet users eager to test upcoming (beta) versions.

RFC 1925: The Twelve Networking Truths

Restrictions on Internet use around the world:

* China: requires users and ISPs to register with the police

* Germany: cuts off access to some newsgroups carried on CompuServe

* Saudi Arabia: confines Internet access to universities and hospitals

* Singapore: requires political and religious content providers to register with the state

* New Zealand: classifies computer disks as "publications" that can be censored and seized

* source: Human Rights Watch

Country domains registered: Qatar (QA), Central African Republic (CF), Oman (OM), Norfolk Island (NF), Tuvalu (TV), French Polynesia (PF), Syria (SY), Aruba (AW), Cambodia (KH), French Guiana (GF), Eritrea (ER), Cape Verde (CV), Burundi (BI), Benin (BJ) Bosnia-Herzegovina (BA), Andorra (AD), Guadeloupe (GP), Guernsey (GG), Isle of Man (IM), Jersey (JE), Lao (LA), Maldives (MV), Marshall Islands (MH), Mauritania (MR), Northern Mariana Islands (MP), Rwanda (RW), Togo (TG), Yemen (YE), Zaire (ZR)

Top 10 Domains by Host #: com, edu, net, uk, de, jp, us, mil, ca, au

Hacks of the Year: US Dept of Justice (17 Aug), CIA (19 Sep), Air Force (29 Dec), UK Labour Party (6 Dec), NASA DDCSOL - USAFE - US Air Force (30 Dec)

Technologies of the Year: Search engines, JAVA, Internet Phone

Emerging Technologies: Virtual environments (VRML), Collaborative tools, Internet appliance (Network Computer)


2000th RFC: "Internet Official Protocol Standards"

71,618 mailing lists registered at Liszt, a mailing list directory

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is established to handle administration and registration of IP numbers to the geographical areas currently handled by Network Solutions (InterNIC), starting March 1998.

CA*net II launched in June to provide Canada's next generation Internet using ATM/SONET

In protest of the DNS monopoly, AlterNIC's owner, Eugene Kashpureff, hacks DNS so users going to end up at

Domain name sold for US$150,000

Early in the morning of 17 July, human error at Network Solutions causes the DNS table for .com and .net domains to become corrupted, making millions of systems unreachable.

Longest hostname registered with InterNIC: CHALLENGER.MED.SYNAPSE.UAH.UALBERTA.CA

101,803 Name Servers in whois database

RFC 2100: The Naming of Hosts

Country domains registered: Falkland Islands (FK), East Timor (TP), R of Congo (CG), Christmas Island (CX), Gambia (GM), Guinea-Bissau (GW), Haiti (HT), Iraq (IQ), Libya (LY), Malawi (MW), Martinique (MQ), Montserrat (MS), Myanmar (MM), French Reunion Island (RE), Seychelles (SC), Sierra Leone (SL), Somalia (SO), Sudan (SD), Tajikistan (TJ), Turkmenistan (TM), Turks and Caicos Islands (TC), British Virgin Islands (VG), Heard and McDonald Islands (HM), French Southern Territories (TF), British Indian Ocean Territory (IO), Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (SJ), St Pierre and Miquelon (PM), St Helena (SH), South Georgia/Sandwich Islands (GS), Sao Tome and Principe (ST), Ascension Island (AC), US Minor Outlying Islands (UM), Mayotte (YT), Wallis and Futuna Islands (WF), Tokelau Islands (TK), Chad Republic (TD), Afghanistan (AF), Cocos Island (CC), Bouvet Island (BV), Liberia (LR), American Samoa (AS), Niue (NU), Equatorial New Guinea (GQ), Bhutan (BT), Pitcairn Island (PN), Palau (PW), DR of Congo (CD)

Top 10 Domains by Host #: com, edu, net, jp, uk, de, us, au, ca, mil

Hacks of the Year: Indonesian Govt (19 Jan, 10 Feb, 24 Apr, 30 Jun, 22 Nov), NASA (5 Mar), UK Conservative Party (27 Apr), Spice Girls (14 Nov)

Technologies of the Year: Push, Multicasting

Emerging Technologies: Push


Hobbes' Internet Timeline is released as RFC 2235 & FYI 32

US Depart of Commerce (DoC) releases the Green Paper outlining its plan to privatize DNS on 30 January. This is followed up by a White Paper on June 5

La Fête de l'Internet, a country-wide Internet fest, is held in France 20-21 March

Web size estimates range between 275 (Digital) and 320 (NEC) million pages for 1Q

Companies flock to the Turkmenistan NIC in order to register their name under the .tm domain, the English abbreviation for trademark

Internet users get to be judges in a performance by 12 world champion ice skaters on 27 March, marking the first time a television sport show's outcome is determined by its viewers.

Network Solutions registers its 2 millionth domain on 4 May

Electronic postal stamps become a reality, with the US Postal Service allowing stamps to be purchased and downloaded for printing from the Web.

Canada kicks off CA*net 3, the first national optical internet

Compaq pays US$3.3million for

CDA II and a ban on Net taxes are signed into US law (21 October) accidentally posts test US election returns one day early (2 November)

Indian ISP market is deregulated in November causing a rush for ISP operation licenses

US DoC enters into an agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers (ICANN) to establish a process for transitioning DNS from US Government management to industry (25 November)

San Francisco sites without off-city mirrors go offline as the city blacks out on 8 December

Chinese government puts Lin Hai on trial for "inciting the overthrow of state power" for providing 30,000 email addresses to a US Internet magazine (December) [ He is later sentenced to two years in jail ]

French Internet users give up their access on 13 December to boycott France Telecom's local phone charges (which are in addition to the ISP charge)

Open source software comes of age

RFC 2321: RITA -- The Reliable Internetwork Troubleshooting Agent

RFC 2322: Management of IP numbers by peg-dhcp

RFC 2323: IETF Identification and Security Guidelines

RFC 2324: Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol (HTCPCP/1.0)

Country domains registered: Nauru (NR), Comoros (KM)

Bandwidth Generators: Winter Olympics (Feb), World Cup (Jun-Jul), Starr Report (11 Sep), Glenn space launch

Top 10 Domains by Host #: com, net, edu, mil, jp, us, uk ,de, ca, au

Hacks of the Year: US Dept of Commerce (20 Feb), New York Times (13 Sep), China Society for Human Rights Studies (26 Oct), UNICEF (7 Jan)

Technologies of the Year: E-Commerce, E-Auctions, Portals

Emerging Technologies: E-Trade, XML, Intrusion Detection


Internet access becomes available to the Saudi Arabian (.sa) public in January

vBNS sets up an OC48 link between CalREN South and North using Juniper M40 routers

First Internet Bank of Indiana, the first full-service bank available only on the Net, opens for business on 22 February

IBM becomes the first Corporate partner to be approved for Internet2 access

European Parliament proposes banning the caching of Web pages by ISPs

The Internet Fiesta kicks off in March across Europe, building on the success of La Fête de l'Internet held in 1998

US State Court rules that domain names are property that may be garnished

MCI/Worldcom, the vBNS provider for NSF, begins upgrading the US backbone to 2.5Gbps

A forged Web page made to look like a Bloomberg financial news story raised shares of a small technology company by 31% on 7 April.

ICANN announces the five testbed registrars for the competitive Shared Registry System on 21 April: AOL, CORE, France Telecom/Oléane, Melbourne IT, 29 additional post-testbed registrars are also selected on 21 April, followed by 8 on 25 May, 15 on 6 July, and so on for a total of 98 by year's end. The testbed, originally scheduled to last until 24 June, is extended until 10 September, and then 30 November. The first registrar to come online is on 7 June

First large-scale Cyberwar takes place simultaneously with the war in Serbia/Kosovo

Abilene, the Internet2 network, reaches across the Atlantic and connects to NORDUnet and SURFnet

The Web becomes the focal point of British politics as a list of MI6 agents is released on a UK Web site. Though forced to remove the list from the site, it was too late as the list had already been replicated across the Net. (15 May)

Activists Net-wide target the world's financial centers on 18 June, timed to coincide with the G8 Summit. Little actual impact is reported.

MCI/Worldcom launches vBNS+, a commercialized version of vBNS targeted at smaller educational and research institutions

DoD issues a memo requiring all US military systems to connect via NIPRNET, and not directly to the Internet by 15 Dec 1999 (22 Aug)

Somalia gets its first ISP - Olympic Computer (Sep)

ISOC approves the formation of the Internet Societal Task Force (ISTF). Vint Cerf serves as first chair

Free computers are all the rage (as long as you sign a long term contract for Net service)

Country domains registered: Bangladesh (BD), Palestine (PS)

vBNS reaches 101 connections is sold for US$7.5million (it was purchased in 1997 for US$150,000 (30 Nov)

RFC 2549: IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service

RFC 2550: Y10K and Beyond

RFC 2551: The Roman Standards Process -- Revision III

RFC 2555: 30 Years of RFCs

RFC 2626: The Internet and the Millennium Problem (Year 2000)

Top 10 TLDs by Host #: com, net, edu, jp, uk, mil, us, de, ca, au

Hacks of the Year: Star Wars (8 Jan), .tp (Jan), USIA (23 Jan), E-Bay (13 Mar), US Senate (27 May), NSI (2 Jul), Paraguay Gov't (20 Jul), AntiOnline (5 Aug), Microsoft (26 Oct), UK Railtrack (31 Dec)

Technologies of the Year: E-Trade, Online Banking, MP3

Emerging Technologies: Net-Cell Phones, Thin Computing, Embedded Computing

Viruses of the Year: Melissa (March), ExploreZip (June)



The US timekeeper (USNO) and a few other time services around the world report the new year as 19100 on 1 Jan

A massive denial of service attack is launched against major web sites, including Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay in early February

Web size estimates by NEC-RI and Inktomi surpass 1 billion indexable pages

ICANN redelegates the .pn domain, returning it to the Pitcairn Island community (February)

Internet2 backbone network deploys IPv6 (16 May)

Various domain name hijackings took place in late May and early June, including,, and

A testbed allowing the registration of domain names in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean begins operation on 9 November. This testbed, created by VeriSign without IETF authorization, only allows the second-level domain to be non-English, still forcing use of .com, .net, .org. The Chinese government blocks internal registrations, stating that registrations in Chinese are its sovereignty right

ICANN selects new TLDs: .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, .pro (16 Nov)

Mexico's connection to Internet2 becomes fully operational as the California research network (CalREN-2) is connected with Mexico's Corporación Universitaria para el Desarrollo de Internet (CUDI) network. Though connected in November, the link's inauguration by California's Governor and Mexico's President was not until March of 2001.

After months of legal proceedings, the French court rules Yahoo! must block French users from accessing hate memorabilia in its auction site (Nov). Given its inability to provide such a block on the Internet, Yahoo! removes those auctions entirely (Jan 2001). The case is eventually thrown out (Feb 2003).

The European Commission contracts with a consortium of 30 national research networks for the development of Géant, Europe's new gigabit research network meant to enhance the current capability provided by TEN-155 (6 Nov)

Australian government endorses the transfer of authority for the .au domain to auDA (18 Dec). ICANN signs over control to auDA on 26 Oct 2001.

RFC 2795: The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite

Hacks of the Year: RSA Security (Feb), Apache (May), Western Union (Sep), Microsoft (Oct)

Technologies of the Year: ASP, Napster

Emerging Technologies: Wireless devices, IPv6

Viruses of the Year: Love Letter (May)

Lawsuits of the Year: Napster, DeCSS


The first live distributed musical -- The Technophobe & The Madman -- over Internet2 networks debuts on 20 Feb

VeriSign extends its multilingual domain testbed to encompass various European languages (26 Feb), and later the full Unicode character set (5 Apr) opening up most of the world's languages

Forwarding email in Australia becomes illegal with the passing of the Digital Agenda Act, as it is seen as a technical infringement of personal copyright (4 Mar)

Radio stations broadcasting over the Web go silent over actor royalty disputes (10 Apr)

High schools in five states (Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington) become the first to gain Internet2 access

[email protected] launches on 17 May and within four weeks its distributed Internet clients provide more computing power than the most powerful supercomputer of its time (:par:)

US Dept of Commerce issues a notice of intent on 6 April to turn over management for the .edu domain from VeriSign to Educause. Award agreement is reached on 29 October. Community colleges will finally be able to register under .edu

Napster keeps finding itself embroiled in litigation and is eventually forced to suspend service; it comes back later in the year as a subscription service

European Council finalizes an international cybercrime treaty on 22 June and adopts it on 9 November. This is the first treaty addressing criminal offenses committed over the Internet.

.biz and .info are added to the root server on 27 June with registrations beginning in July. .biz domain go live on 7 Nov.

Afghanistan's Taliban bans Internet access country-wide, including from Government offices, in an attempt to control content (13 Jul)

Code Red worm and Sircam virus infiltrate thousands of web servers and email accounts, respectively, causing a spike in Internet bandwidth usage and security breaches (July)

A fire in a train tunnel running through Baltimore, Maryland seriously damages various fiber-optic cable bundles used by backbone providers, disrupting Internet traffic in the Mid-Atlantic states and creating a ripple effect across the US (18 Jul)

Brazil RNP2 is connected to Internet2's Abilene over 45Mbps line (21 Aug)

GÉANT, the pan-European Gigabit Research and Education Network, becomes operational (23 Oct), replacing the TEN-155 network which was closed down (30 Nov)

.museum begins resolving (Nov)

First uncompressed real-time gigabit HDTV transmission across a wide-area IP network takes place on Internet2 (12 Nov).

Dutch SURFnet and Internet2's Abilene connect via gigabit ethernet (15 Nov)

.us domain operational responsibility assumed by NeuStar (20 Nov)

RFC 3091: Pi Digit Generation Protocol

RFC 3092: Etymology of "Foo"

RFC 3093: Firewall Enhancement Protocol (FEP)

Viruses of the Year: Code Red (Jul), Nimda (Sep), SirCam (Jul), BadTrans (Apr, Nov)

Emerging Technologies: Grid Computing, P2P


US ISP Association (USISPA) is created from the former CIX (11 Jan)

.name begins resolving (15 Jan)

.coop registrations begin (30 Jan)

Global Terabit Research Network (GTRN) is formed composed of two OC-48 2.4GB circuits connecting Internet2 Abiline, CANARIE CA*net3, and GÉANT (18 Feb)

.aero registrations begin 18 March and beings resolving 2 September

Federally recognized US Indian tribes become eligible to register under .gov (26 Apr)

Hundreds of Internet radio stations observe a Day of Silence in protest of proposed song royalty rate increases (1 May)

Abilene (Internet2) backbone deploys native IPv6 (5 Aug)

The 69/8 IP range is allocated to ARIN in August after having been in the bogon list; users and servers assigned a 69/8 address find themselves blocked from many Internet sites

Internet2 now has 200 university, 60 corporate, and 40 affiliate members (2 Sep)

Having your own Blog becomes hip

Hundreds of Spain-based web sites take their content offline in protest of a new law that took effect on 12 Oct requiring all commercial Web sites to register with the government

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack struck the 13 DNS root servers knocking out all but 5 (21-23 Oct). Amidst national security concerns, VeriSign hastens a planned relocation of one of its two DNS root servers

A new US law creates a kids-safe "dot-kids" domain ( to be implemented in 2003 (3 Dec)

The FBI teams up with Terras Lycos to disseminate virtual wanted posts across the Web portal's properties (11 Dec)

RFC 3251: Electricity over IP

RFC 3252: Binary Lexical Octet Ad-hoc Transport


Public Interest Registry (PIR) takes over as .org registry operator on 1 Jan. Transition is completed on 27 Jan. By giving up .org, VeriSign is able to retain control over .com domains

The first official Swiss online election takes place in Anières (7 Jan)

The registration for domain is deleted (11 Jan) by the German registrar at the request of a German prosecutor claiming objectionable content; the site however is hosted in the United States and complies with US laws.

The SQL Slammer worm causes one of the largest and fastest spreading DDoS attacks ever. Taking roughly 10 minutes to spread worldwide, the worm took down 5 of the 13 DNS root servers along with tens of thousands of other servers, and impacted a multitude of systems ranging from (bank) ATM systems to air traffic control to emergency (911) systems (25 Jan). This is followed in August by the Sobig.F virus (19 Aug), the fastest spreading virus ever, and the Blaster (MSBlast) worm (11 Aug), another one of the most destructive worms ever changes to using nsd vs. bind to increase diversity of software in the root name server system (19 Feb)

.nl registrations open up to anyone, including individuals and foreigners (29 Jan); .se also opens up its registration in April.

.af is redelegated on 8 Jan and becomes live once again on 12 Feb with UNDP technical assistance. First domains are and (15 Feb)

.pro sunrise registration begins 23 Apr under,,

Flash mobs, organized over the Net, start in New York and quickly form in cities worlwide

Taxes make headlines as: larger US Internet retailers begin collecting taxes on all purchases; some US states tax Internet bandwidth; and the EU requires all Internet companies to collect value added tax (VAT) on digital downloads starting 1 July

The French Ministry of Culture bans the use of the word "e-mail" by government ministries, and adopts the use of the more French sounding "courriel" (Jul)

KRNIC begins offering domains (19 Aug) sunrise registration begins 17 June and public registration on 9 Sep

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sues 261 individuals on 8 Sep for allegedly distributing copyright music files over peer-to-peer networks

VeriSign deploys a wildcard service (Site Finder) into the .com and .net TLDs causing much confusion as URLs with invalid domains are redirected to a VeriSign page (15 Sep). ICANN orders VeriSign to stop the service, which they comply with on 4 Oct

Last Abilene segment upgraded to 10Gbps (5 Nov)

National LambdaRail announced as a new US R&D networking infrastructure (16 Sep). The first connection takes place between Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) in Chicago (18 Nov)

Little GLORIAD (Global Ring Network for Advanced Application Development) starts operations (22 Dec), consisting of a networked ring across the northern hemisphere with connections in Chicago, Amsterdam, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Zabajkal'sk, Manzhouli, Beijing, and Hong Kong. This is the first-ever fiber network connections across the Russia-China border

RFC 3514: The Security Flag in the IPv4 Header (The Evil Bit)


For the first time, there are more instances of DNS root servers outside the US with the launch of an anycast instance of the RIPE NCC operated K-root server

Abiline, the Internet2 backbone, upgrade from 2.5Gbps to 10Gbps is completed (4 Feb)

Network Solutions begins offering 100 year domain registration (24 Mar)

One of the .ly nameservers stops responding (7 Apr) causing the other nameserver to go offline (9 Apr), making the domain inaccessible. Service is restored 13 Apr

VeriSign Naming and Directory Service (VNDS) begins updating all 13 .com/.net authoritative name servers in near real-time vs. twice each day (8 Sep)

Lycos Europe releases a screen saver to help fight spam by keeping spam servers busy with requests (1 Dec). The service is discontinued within a few days after backbone providers block access to the download site and the service causese some servers to crash.

CERNET2, the first backbone IPv6 network in China, is launched by the China Education and Research Network (CERN) connecting 25 universities in 20 cities at speeds of 1-10Gbps (27 Dec)


Displaying 1 comment:

D. Matthews wrote 13 years ago.
I worked for BYTE and before that IDG at Incider Mag. where
we added Babs "the bore" Cringely to our masthead.
Robt. Cringely was our inspiration. Does anyone remember the
Bixens? (BIX)

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