Timeline of the History of the Internet & The Technology That Fuelled Its Explosive Growth

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1800s

1844 – Samuel Morse sent the first message over the first long-distance telegraph line.

March 10, 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call.

1900s

1900 – Nikola Tesla described plans for a world system of wireless, “the instantaneous and precise wireless transmission of any kind of signals, messages or characters, to all parts of the world.” And “… an inexpensive receiver, not bigger than a watch, will enable him (a user) to listen anywhere, on land or sea, to a speech delivered, or music played in some other place, however distant.”

1930s

1937 – John Atanasoff designed the first electronic digital computer. It would use binary numbers (base 2, in which all numbers are expressed with the digits 0 and 1), and its data would be stored in capacitors.

1940s

July 1945 – Vannevar Bush conceived the encyclopedia of the future as having a mesh of associative trails running through it, akin to hyperlinks, stored in a memex system. Bush envisioned the memex as a device in which individuals would compress and store all of their books, records, and communications, “mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility“.

1950s

1958 – President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), bringing together some of the best scientific minds in the country. Their goal was to help American military technology stay ahead of its enemies. ARPA’s name was changed to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1971. DARPA was changed back to ARPA in 1993 and back to DARPA again in 1996.

1960s

July 1961 – Leonard Kleinrock publishes the first paper on packet switching theory. This was a major step along the path towards computer networking.

August 1962 – The first known description, roughly, of the Internet of today was written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT. He called it the “Galactic Network”. He spoke of a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from anywhere. Licklider would go on to be the first head of  DARPA, just two months later.

1963 (or 1964 by some sources) – Douglas Engelbart & Bill English co-create the mouse.

August 1964 – RAND Corporation published “On Distributed Communications,” Vols. I through XI by Baran with Sharla Boehm co-authoring Volume II and J. W. Smith authoring Volume III. These set forth the concepts of how communication networks could be designed as a message-based, distributed system.

1965 – Thomas Merrill & Lawrence G. Roberts connect the MIT Lincoln Laboratory TX-2 computer with a Q-32 computer at System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, California with a dial-up telephone line creating the first wide-area computer network ever.

March 16, 1966 – Donald Davies, Deputy Superintendent of the Autonomics Division of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL)[UK], gave a public lecture titled: “The Future Digital Communication Network.”

December 9, 1968 – “The Mother of All Demos” was presented by Douglas Engelbart at the Association for Computing Machinery/Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ACM/IEEE)—Computer Society’s Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco.

The live demonstration demonstrated almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing: windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the mouse, word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, and a collaborative real-time editing.

Recommended readingBootstrapping : Douglas Engelbart, coevolution, and the origins of personal computingA Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect

1970s

December 1971 – Project Gutenberg was the first provider of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael S. Hart began Project Gutenberg with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence.

1974 – The first personal computer was the Altair.

1974 – Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn produced the TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). TCP/IP became the basis for how data is transmitted over the Internet.

March 26, 1976 – Queen Elizabeth II sends her first email.

May 1978 – Gary Thuerk sends the world’s first spam mail to hundreds of ARPA users.

1980s

January 1, 1985 – The Internet’s Domain Name System is created.

1985 – Symbolics.com becomes the first registered domain.

July 23, 1985 – Commodore launches the Amiga personal computer at the Lincoln Center in New York.

1986 – Jon Postel introduces top level domains (.com, .org, .gov, .edu, and .mil).

January 19, 1986 – The first PC virus, Brain, starts to spread.

March 13, 1986 – Microsoft Corporation holds its initial public offering at $20 a share.

1988 – Tim Berners-Lee begins to openly discuss his plans for what would become the World Wide Web at CERN.

1989 – The first commercial Internet service providers emerge. As does the first written proposal for the World Wide Web. New Zealand, Japan and Australia get their first Internet connections.

November 1989 – The first commercial dial-up Internet connection in North America is made.

1990s

1990 – Tim Berners-Lee creates the first web server & develops HyperText Markup Language (HTML).

1990 – ARPANET is decommissioned.

September 10, 1990 – The first search engine, Archie, is launched.

25 December 1990 – Tim Berners-Lee’s WorldWideWeb goes live.

August 1991 – WorldWideWeb (later Nexus) is released to the public.

January 1992 – First stable version of the world’s second web browser Line Mode Browser is released.

1992 – Audio and video are distributed over the Internet.

January 1993 – web brower Mosaic launches. Its USP was the ability to load images.

November 22, 1993 – world’s first livestream was used to check on a coffee pot at Cambridge University.

1993 – The number of websites reaches 600.

February 1994 – David Filo and Jerry Yang creat Yahoo.

September 9, 1994 – First beta version of Netscape is released.

1 October 1994 – World Wide Web Consortium is founded.

1994 – The Connectix QuickCam became the first online webcam available to the public.

July 1995 – Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.

August 16, 1995 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 1.0 is released.

September 1995 – AuctionWeb, which would become eBay, goes online.

November 22, 1995 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 2 is released.

1995 – Craigslist launches.

July 1996 – Hotmail becomes available.

August 13, 1996 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 is released.

June 1997 – WiFi first released to the public.

September 1997 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 is released.

1998: The Internet Protocol version 6 introduced. IPv6, with 128-bit addresses, will allow 3.4 x 1038 unique addresses, or 340 trillion trillion trillion.

August 1998 – Andy Bechtolsheim wrote Larry Page and Sergey Brin a check for $100,000, and Google Inc. is born.

February 1999 – QQ launches.

March 18, 1999 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 is released.

June 1, 1999 – Napster is released.

2000s

February 2000 – teenager Mike “MafiaBoy” Calce launched a DDoS attack that crippled a host of sites including CNN, Dell, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo.

May 3, 2000 – LimeWire is released.

June 30, 2000 – Friends Reunited launches.

January 15, 2001 – Wikipedia goes live.

August 27, 2001 – Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 is released.

September 23, 2002 – Mozilla Firefox is released.

March 22, 2003 – Friendster launches.

May 5, 2003 – LinkedIn launches.

May 27, 2003 – WordPress is launched.

April 28, 2003 – Apple launches iTunes.

August 1, 2003 – MySpace launches.

2004 – Windows Live Spaces/MSN Spaces launches.

February 4, 2004 – The Facebook launches.

April 1, 2004 – Gmail launches.

December 5, 2004 – Digg becomes available to the public.

January 2005 – Bebo launches.

February 8, 2005 – Google Maps launches.

February 14, 2005 – Youtube launches.

March 16, 2005 – Yahoo! 360° launches.

June 23, 2005 – Reddit launches.

March 21, 2006 – Twitter launches.

October 18, 2006 – Windows Internet Explorer 7 is released.

November 2006 – Badoo launches.

2007 – Netflix start streaming.

February 2007 – Tumblr launches.

June 2007 – Dropbox launches.

June 29, 2007 – Apple released the first iPhone.

August 23, 2007 – The use of hashtags was first proposed by Chris Messina in a tweet.

September 2, 2008 – Google Chrome released. Over the next 12 years Google would wipe out Microsoft’s dominance in the web browser space & become the world’s most used browser.

February 2009 – WhatsApp launches.

March 11, 2009 – Foursquare launches.

March 19, 2009 – Windows Internet Explorer 8 is released.

2010s

February 9, 2010 – Google Buzz launches. It is discontinued on December 15, 2011.

March 2010 – Pinterest launches.

October 6, 2010 – Instagram launches.

March 14, 2011 – Windows Internet Explorer 9 is released.

April 21, 2011 – Zoom launches.

June 28, 2011 – Google+ launches. This was a rare misstep by Google & was wound up within about 8 years.

August 9, 2011 – Facebook Messenger launches.

September 2011 – Snapchat launches.

October 12, 2011 – iMessenger launches.

April 24, 2012 – Google Drive launches.

September 12, 2012 – Tinder launches.

October 26, 2012 – Windows Internet Explorer 10 is released.

January 24, 2013 – Vine launches.

February 21, 2013 – Google Pixel launches.

May 15, 2013 – Google Hangouts launches.

August 14, 2013 – Telegram launches.

October 17, 2013 – Internet Explorer 11 is released.

July 29, 2014 – Signal launches.

March 26, 2015 – Periscope launches.

September 2016 – TikTok launches.