"In the Beginning, ARPA created the ARPANET.
And the ARPANET was without form and void.
And darkness was upon the deep.
And the spirit of ARPA moved upon the face of the network and ARPA said, 'Let there be a protocol,' and there was a protocol. And ARPA saw that it was good.
And ARPA said, 'Let there be more protocols,' and it was so. And ARPA saw that it was good.
And ARPA said, 'Let there be more networks,' and it was so."
This Internet Timeline begins in 1962, before the word ‘Internet’ is invented. The world’s 10,000 computers are primitive, although they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have only a few thousand words of magnetic core memory, and programming them is far from easy.
Domestically, data communication over the phone lines is an AT&T monopoly. The ‘Picturephone’ of 1939, shown again at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, is still AT&T’s answer to the future of worldwide communications.
But the four-year old Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, a future-oriented funder of ‘high-risk, high-gain’ research, lays the groundwork for what becomes the ARPANET and, much later, the Internet.
By 1992, when this timeline ends,
the Internet has one million hosts
the ARPANET has ceased to exist
computers are nine orders of magnitude faster
network bandwidth is twenty million times greater.
At MIT, a wide variety of computer experiments are going on. Ivan Sutherland uses the TX-2 to write Sketchpad, the origin of graphical programs for computer-aided design.
J.C.R. Licklider writes memos about his Intergalactic Network concept, where everyone on the globe is interconnected and can access programs and data at any site from anywhere. He is talking to his own ‘Intergalactic Network’ of researchers across the country. In October, ‘Lick’ becomes the first head of the computer research program at ARPA, which he calls the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO).
Leonard Kleinrock completes his doctoral dissertation at MIT on queuing theory in communication networks, and becomes an assistant professor at UCLA.
The SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment), based on earlier work at MIT and IBM, is fully deployed as the North American early warning system. Operators of ‘weapons directing consoles’ use a light gun to identify moving objects that show up on their radar screens. SAGE sites are used to direct air defense. This project provides experience in the development of the SABRE air travel reservation system and later air traffic control systems.
Licklider starts to talk with Larry Roberts of Lincoln Labs, director of the TX-2 project, Ivan Sutherland, a computer graphics expert whom he has hired to work at ARPA and Bob Taylor, who joins ARPA in 1965. Lick contracts with MIT, UCLA, and BBN to start work on his vision.
Syncom, the first synchronous communication satellite, is launched. NASA’s satellite is assembled in the Hughes Aircraft Company’s facility in Culver City, California. Total payload is 55 pounds.
A joint industry-government committee develops ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange), the first universal standard for computers. It permits machines from different manufacturers to exchange data. 128 unique 7-bit strings stand for either a letter of the English alphabet, one of the Arabic numerals, one of an assortment of punctuation marks and symbols, or a special function, such as the carriage return.
Simultaneous work on secure packet switching networks is taking place at MIT, the RAND Corporation, and the National Physical Laboratory in Great Britain. Paul Baran, Donald Davies, Leonard Kleinrock, and others proceed in parallel research. Baran is one of the first to publish, On Data Communications Networks. Kleinrock’s thesis is also published as a seminal text on queuing theory.
IBM’s new System 360 computers come onto the market and set the de facto worldwide standard of the 8-bit byte, making the 12-bit and 36-bit word machines almost instantly obsolete. The $5 billion investment by IBM into this family of six mutually compatible computers pays off, and within two years orders for the System 360 reach 1,000 per month.
On-line transaction processing debuts with IBM’s SABRE air travel reservation system for American Airlines. SABRE (Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment) links 2,000 terminals in sixty cities via telephone lines.
Licklider leaves ARPA to return to MIT, and Ivan Sutherland moves to IPTO. With IPTO funding, MIT’s Project MAC acquires a GE-635 computer and begins the development of the Multics timesharing operating system.
DEC unveils the PDP-8, the first commercially successful minicomputer. Small enough to sit on a desktop, it sells for $18,000 — one-fifth the cost of a low-end IBM/360 mainframe. The combination of speed, size, and cost enables the establishment of the minicomputer in thousands of manufacturing plants, offices, and scientific laboratories.
With ARPA funding, Larry Roberts and Thomas Marill create the first wide-area network connection. They connect the TX-2 at MIT to the Q-32 in Santa Monica via a dedicated telephone line with acoustic couplers. The system confirms the suspicions of the Intergalactic Network researchers that telephone lines work for data, but are inefficient, wasteful of bandwidth, and expensive. As Kleinrock predicts, packet switching offers the most promising model for communication between computers.
Late in the year, Ivan Sutherland hires Bob Taylor from NASA. Taylor pulls together the ideas about networking that are gaining momentum amongst IPTO’s computer-scientist contractors.
The ARPA-funded JOSS (Johnniac Open Shop System) at the RAND Corporation goes on line. The JOSS system permits online computational problem solving at a number of remote electric typewriter consoles. The standard IBM Model 868 electric typewriters are modified with a small box with indicator lights and activating switches. The user input appears in green, and JOSS responds with the output in black.
Taylor succeeds Sutherland to become the third director of IPTO. In his own office, he has three different terminals, which he can connect by telephone to three different computer systems research sites around the nation. Why can’t they all talk together? His problem is a metaphor for that facing the ARPA computer research community.
Taylor meets with Charles Herzfeld, the head of ARPA, to outline his issues. Twenty-minutes later he has a million dollars to spend on networking. The idea is to link all the IPTO contractors. After several months of discussion, Taylor persuades Larry Roberts to leave MIT to start the ARPA network program.
Simultaneously, the English inventor of packet switching, Donald Davies, is theorizing at the British National Physical Laboratory (NPL) about building a network of computers to test his packet switching concepts.
Honeywell introduces the DDP-516 minicomputer and demonstrates its ruggedness with a sledgehammer. This catches Roberts’ eye.
Larry Roberts convenes a conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to bring the ARPA researchers together. At the conclusion, Wesley Clark suggests that the network be managed by interconnected ‘Interface Message Processors’ in front of the major computers. Called IMPs, they evolve into today’s routers.
Roberts puts together his plan for the ARPANET. The separate strands of investigation begin to converge. Donald Davies, Paul Baran, and Larry Roberts become aware of each other’s work at an ACM conference where they all meet. From Davies, the word ‘packet’ is adopted and the proposed line speed in ARPANET is increased from 2.4 Kbps to 50 Kbps.
The acoustically coupled modem, invented in the early sixties, is vastly improved by John van Geen of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). He introduces a receiver that can reliably detect bits of data amid the hiss heard over long-distance telephone connections.
Roberts and the ARPA team refine the overall structure and specifications for the ARPANET. They issue an RFQ for the development of the IMPs.
At Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), Frank Heart leads a team to bid on the project. Bob Kahn plays a major role in shaping the overall BBN designs. BBN wins the project in December.
Roberts works with Howard Frank and his team at Network Analysis Corporation designing the network topology and economics. Kleinrock’s team prepares the network measurement system at UCLA, which is to become the site of the first node.
The ILLIAC IV, the largest supercomputer of its time, is being built at Burroughs under a NASA contract. More than 1,000 transistors are squeezed onto its RAM chip, manufactured by the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, yielding 10 times the speed at one-hundredth the size of equivalent core memory. ILLIAC-IV will be hooked to the ARPANET so that remote scientists can have access to its unique capabilities.
Frank Heart puts a team together to write the software that will run the IMPs and to specify changes in the Honeywell DDP- 516 they have chosen. The team includes Ben Barker, Bernie Cosell, Will Crowther, Bob Kahn, Severo Ornstein, and Dave Walden.
Four sites are selected. At each, a team gets to work on producing the software to enable its computers and the IMP to communicate. At UCLA, the first site, Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, and Jon Postel work with Kleinrock to get ready. On April 7, Crocker sends around a memo entitled ‘Request for Comments.’ This is the first of thousands of RFCs that document the design of the ARPANET and the Internet.
The team calls itself the Network Working Group (RFC 10), and comes to see its job as the development of a ‘protocol,’ the collection of programs that comes to be known as NCP (Network Control Protocol).
The second site is the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), where Doug Englebart saw the ARPA experiment as an opportunity to explore wide-area distributed collaboration, using his NLS system, a prototype ‘digital library.’ SRI supported the Network Information Center, led by Elizabeth (Jake) Feinler and Don Nielson.
At the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) Glen Culler and Burton Fried investigate methods for display of mathematical functions using storage displays to deal with the problem of screen refresh over the net. Their investigation of computer graphics supplies essential capabilities for the representation of scientific information.
After installation in September, handwritten logs from UCLA show the first host-to-host connection, from UCLA to SRI, is made on October 25, 1969. The first ‘Log-In’ crashes the IMPs, but the next one works!
Nodes are added to the ARPANET at the rate of one per month.
Programmers Dennis Ritchie and Kenneth Thompson at Bell Labs complete the UNIX operating system on a spare DEC minicomputer. UNIX combines many of the time-sharing and file-management features offered by Multics and wins a wide following, particularly among scientists.
Bob Metcalfe builds a high-speed (100 Kbps) network interface between the MIT IMP and a PDP-6 to the ARPANET. It runs for 13 years without human intervention. Metcalfe goes on to build another ARPANET interface for Xerox PARC’s PDP-10 clone (MAXC).
DEC announces the Unibus for its PDP-11 minicomputers to allow the addition and integration of myriad computer-cards for instrumentation and communications.
In December, the Network Working Group (NWG) led by Steve Crocker finishes the initial ARPANET Host-to-Host protocol, called the Network Control Protocol (NCP).
The ARPANET begins the year with 14 nodes in operation. BBN modifies and streamlines the IMP design so it can be moved to a less cumbersome platform than the DDP-516. BBN also develops a new platform, called a Terminal Interface Processor (TIP) which is capable of supporting input from multiple hosts or terminals.
The Network Working Group completes the Telnet protocol and makes progress on the file transfer protocol (FTP) standard. At the end of the year, the ARPANET contains 19 nodes as planned.
Intel’s release of the 4004, the first ‘computer on a chip,’ ushers in the epoch of the microprocessor. The combination of memory and processor on a single chip reduces size and cost, and increases speed, continuing the evolution from vacuum tube to transistor to integrated circuit.
Many small projects are carried out across the new network, including the demonstration of an aircraft-carrier landing simulator. However, the overall traffic is far lighter than the network’s capacity. Something needs to stimulate the kind of collaborative and interactive atmosphere consistent with the original vision. Larry Roberts and Bob Kahn decide that it is time for a public demonstration of the ARPANET. They choose to hold this demonstration at the International Conference on Computer Communication (ICCC) to be held in Washington, DC, in October 1972.
The ARPANET grows by ten more nodes in the first 10 months of 1972. The year is spent finishing, testing and releasing all the network protocols, and developing network demonstrations for the ICCC.
At BBN, Ray Tomlinson writes a program to enable electronic mail to be sent over the ARPANET. It is Tomlinson who develops the ‘user@host’ convention, choosing the @ sign arbitrarily from the non-alphabetic symbols on the keyboard. Unbeknownst to him, @ is already in use as an escape character, prompt, or command indicator on many other systems. Other networks will choose other conventions, inaugurating a long period known as the e-mail ‘header wars.’ Not until the late 1980s will ‘@’ finally become a worldwide standard.
Following the lead of Intel’s 4004 chip, hand-held calculators ranging from the simple Texas Instruments four-function adding machines to the elaborate Hewlett-Packard scientific calculators immediately consign ordinary slide rules to oblivion.
Xerox PARC develops a program called Smalltalk, and Bell Labs develops a language called ‘C.’
Steve Wozniak begins his career by building one of the best-known ‘blue boxes;’ tone generators that enable long-distance dialing while bypassing the phone company’s billing equipment.
The ICCC demonstrations are a tremendous success. One of the best known demos features a conversation between ELIZA, Joseph Weizenbaum’s artificially-intelligent psychiatrist located at MIT, and PARRY, a paranoid computer developed by Kenneth Colby at Stanford. Other demos feature interactive chess games, geography quizzes, and an elaborate air traffic control simulation. An AT&T delegation visits ICCC but leaves in puzzlement.
Thirty institutions are connected to the ARPANET. The network users range from industrial installations and consulting firms like BBN, Xerox PARC and the MITRE Corporation, to government sites like NASA’s Ames Research Laboratories, the National Bureau of Standards, and Air Force research facilities.
The ICCC demonstrations prove packet-switching a viable technology, and ARPA (now DARPA, where the ‘D’ stands for ‘Defense’) looks for ways to extend its reach. Two new programs begin: Packet Radio sites are modeled on the ALOHA experiment at the University of Hawaii designed by Norm Abramson, connecting seven computers on four islands; and a satellite connection enables linking to two foreign sites in Norway and the UK.
Bob Kahn moves from BBN to DARPA to work for Larry Roberts, and his first self-assigned task is the interconnection of the ARPANET with other networks. He enlists Vint Cerf, who has been teaching at Stanford. The problem is that ARPANET, radio-based PRnet, and SATNET all have different interfaces, packet sizes, labeling, conventions and transmission rates. Linking them together is very difficult.
Kahn and Cerf set about designing a net-to-net connection protocol. Cerf leads the newly formed International Network Working Group. In September 1973, the two give their first paper on the new Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) at an INWG meeting at the University of Sussex in England.
Meanwhile, at Xerox PARC, Bob Metcalfe is working on a wire-based system modeled on ALOHA protocols for Local Area Networks (LANs). It will become Ethernet.
Daily traffic on the ARPANET exceeds 3 million packets. DARPA funds three contracts, one at Stanford (Cerf and his students), one at BBN (directed by e-mail inventor Ray Tomlinson), and one at University College London (directed by Peter Kirstein) to develop and implement the Kahn-Cerf TCP protocol. Their presentation is published as A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection in May 1974 in the IEEE Transactions on Communications Technology.
Ethernet is demonstrated by networking Xerox PARC’s new Alto computers.
BBN recruits Larry Roberts to direct a new venture, called Telenet, which is the first public packet-switched service. Roberts’ departure creates a crisis in the DARPA IPTO office.
DARPA has fulfilled its initial mission. Discussions about divesting DARPA of operational responsibility for the network are held. Because it is DARPA-funded, BBN has no exclusive right to the source code for the IMPs. Telenet and other new networking enterprises want BBN to release the source code. BBN argues that it is always changing the code and that it has recently undergone a complete rewrite at the hands of John McQuillan. Their approach makes Roberts’ task of finding a new director for IPTO difficult. J.C.R. Licklider agrees to return to IPTO from MIT on a temporary basis.
In addition to DARPA, The National Science Foundation (NSF) is actively supporting computing and networking at almost 120 universities. The largest NSF installation is at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. There, scientists use a home-built ‘remote job entry’ system to connect to NCAR’s CDC 7600 from major universities.
The ARPANET geographical map now shows 61 nodes. Licklider arranges its administration to be turned over to the Defense Communications Agency (DCA). BBN remains the contractor responsible for network operations. BBN agrees to release the source code for IMPs and TIPs.
The Network Working Group maintains its open system of discussion via RFCs and e-mail lists. Discomfort grows with the bureaucratic style of DCA.
The Department of Energy creates its own net to support its own research. This net operates over dedicated lines connecting each site to the computer centers at the National Laboratories.
NASA begins planning its own space physics network, SPAN. These networks have connections to the ARPANET so the newly developed TCP protocol begins to get a workout. Internally, however, the new networks use such a variety of protocols that true interoperability is still an issue.
DARPA supports computer scientists at UC Berkeley who are revising a Unix system to incorporate TCP/IP protocols. Berkeley Unix also incorporates a second set of Bell Labs protocols, called UUCP, for systems to use dial-up connections.
Seymour Cray demonstrates the first vector-processor supercomputer, the CRAY-1. The first customers include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and NCAR. The CRAY-1 hardware is more compact and faster than previous supercomputers. No wire is more than 4 feet long, and the clock period is 12.5 nanoseconds (billionths of a second). The machine is cooled by freon circulated through stainless steel tubing bonded within vertical wedges of aluminum between the stacks of circuit boards (Cray patents the bonding process). The CRAY-1’s speed and power attract researchers, who want access to it over networks.
Vint Cerf moves from Stanford to DARPA to work with Bob Kahn on networking and the TCP/IP protocols.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs announce the Apple II computer. Also introduced are the Tandy TRS-80 and the Commodore Pet. These three off-the-shelf machines create the consumer and small business markets for computers.
Cerf and Kahn mount a major demonstration, ‘internetting’ among the Packet Radio net, SATNET, and the ARPANET. Messages go from a van in the Bay Area across the US on ARPANET, then to University College London and back via satellite to Virginia, and back through the ARPANET to the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute. This shows its applicability to international deployment.
Larry Landweber of the University of Wisconsin creates THEORYNET providing email between over 100 researchers and linking elements of the University of Wisconsin in different cities via a commercial packet service like Telenet.
The appearance of the first very small computers and their potential for communication via modem to dial up services starts a boom in a new set of niche industries, like software and modems.
Vint Cerf at DARPA continues the vision of the Internet, forming an International Cooperation Board chaired by Peter Kirstein of University College London, and an Internet Configuration Control Board, chaired by Dave Clark of MIT.
The ARPANET experiment formally is complete. This leaves an array of boards and task forces over the next few years trying to sustain the vision of a free and open Internet that can keep up with the growth of computing.
Larry Landweber at Wisconsin holds a meeting with six other universities to discuss the possibility of building a Computer Science Research Network to be called CSNET. Bob Kahn attends as an advisor from DARPA, and Kent Curtis attends from NSF’s computer research programs. The idea evolves over the summer between Landweber, Peter Denning (Purdue), Dave Farber (Delaware), and Tony Hearn (Utah).
In November, the group submits a proposal to NSF to fund a consortium of eleven universities at an estimated cost of $3 million over five years. This is viewed as too costly by the NSF.
USENET starts a series of shell scripts written by Steve Bellovin at UNC to help communicate with Duke. Newsgroups start with a name that gives an idea of its content. USENET is an early example of a client server where users dial in to a server with requests to forward certain newsgroup postings. The server then ‘serves’ the request.
Landweber’s proposal has many enthusiastic reviewers. At an NSF-sponsored workshop, the idea is revised in a way that both wins approval and opens up a new epoch for NSF itself. The revised proposal includes many more universities. It proposes a three-tiered structure involving ARPANET, a TELENET-based system, and an e-mail only service called PhoneNet. Gateways connect the tiers into a seamless whole. This brings the cost of a site within the reach of the smallest universities. Moreover, NSF agrees to manage CSNET for two years, after which it will turn it over to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which is made up of more than 50 academic institutions.
The National Science Board approves the new plan and funds it for five years at a cost of $5 million. Since the protocols for interconnecting the subnets of CSNET include TCP/IP, NSF becomes an early supporter of the Internet.
NASA has ARPANET nodes, as do many Department of Energy (DOE) sites. Now several Federal agencies support the Internet, and the number is growing.
Research by David Patterson at Berkeley and John Hennessy at Stanford promotes ‘reduced instruction set’ computing. IBM selects the disk operating system DOS, developed by Microsoft, to operate its planned PC.
By the beginning of the year, more than 200 computers in dozens of institutions have been connected in CSNET. BITNET, another startup network, is based on protocols that include file transfer via e-mail rather than by the FTP procedure of the ARPA protocols.
The Internet Working Group of DARPA publishes a plan for the transition of the entire network from the Network Control Protocol to the TCP/IP protocols developed since 1974 and already in wide use (RFC 801).
At Berkeley, Bill Joy incorporates the new TCP/IP suite into the next release of the Unix operating system. The first ‘portable’ computer is launched in the form of the Osborne, a 24-pound suitcase-sized device.
The IBM PC is launched in August 1981.
Meanwhile, Japan mounts a successful challenge to US chip makers by producing 64-kbit chips so inexpensively that U.S. competitors charge the chips are being ‘dumped’ on the U.S. market.
Time magazine names ‘the computer’ its ‘Man of the Year.’ Cray Research announces plans to market the Cray X-MP system in place of the Cray-1. At the other end of the scale, the IBM PC ‘clones’ begin appearing.
An NSF panel chaired by the Courant Institute’s Peter Lax reports that U.S. scientists lack access to supercomputers. It contains the testimony of University of Illinois astrophysicist Larry Smarr that members of his discipline have been forced to travel to Germany to use American-made supercomputers.
The period during which ad hoc networking systems have flourished has left TCP/IP as only one contender for the title of ‘standard.’ Indeed, the International Organization for Standards (ISO) has written and is pushing ahead with a ‘reference’ model of an interconnection standard called Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) — already adopted in preliminary form for interconnecting DEC equipment. But while OSI is a standard existing for the most part on paper, the combination of TCP/IP and the local area networks created with Ethernet technology are driving the expansion of the living Internet.
Drew Major and Kyle Powell write Snipes, an action game to be played on PC’s over the network. They package the game as a ‘demo’ for a PC software product from SuperSet Software, Inc. This is the beginning of Novell.
Digital Communications Associates introduces the first coaxial cable interface for micro-to-mainframe communications.
In January, the ARPANET standardizes on the TCP/IP protocols adopted by the Department of Defense (DOD). The Defense Communications Agency decides to split the network into a public ‘ARPANET’ and a classified ‘MILNET, ‘ with only 45 hosts remaining on the ARPANET. Jon Postel issues an RFC assigning numbers to the various interconnected nets. Barry Leiner takes Vint Cerf’s place at DARPA, managing the Internet.
Numbering the Internet hosts and keeping tabs on the host names simply fails to scale with the growth of the Internet. In November, Jon Postel and Paul Mockapetris of USC/ISI and Craig Partridge of BBN develop the Domain Name System (DNS) and recommend the use of the now familiar firstname.lastname@example.org addressing system.
The number of computers connected via these hosts is much larger, and the growth is accelerating with the commercialization of Ethernet.
Having incorporated TCP/IP into Berkeley Unix, Bill Joy is key to the formation of Sun Microsystems. Sun develops workstations that ship with Berkeley Unix and feature built-in networking. At the same time, the Apollo workstations ship with a special version of a token ring network.
In July 1983, an NSF working group, chaired by Kent Curtis, issues a plan for ‘A National Computing Environment for Academic Research’ to remedy the problems noted in the Lax report. Congressional hearings result in advice to NSF to undertake an even more ambitious plan to make supercomputers available to US scientists.
In January, Apple announces the Macintosh. Its user-friendly interface swells the ranks of new computer users.
Novelist William Gibson coins the term cyberspace in Neuromancer, a book that adds a new genre to science fiction and fantasy.
The newly developed DNS is introduced across the Internet, with the now familiar domains of .gov, .mil, .edu, .org, .net, and .com. A domain called .int, for international entities, is not much used. Instead, hosts in other countries take a two-letter domain indicating the country. The British JANET explicitly announces its intention to serve the nation’s higher education community, regardless of discipline.
Most important for the Internet, NSF issues a request for proposals to establish supercomputer centers that will provide access to the entire U.S. research community, regardless of discipline and location. A new division of Advanced Scientific Computing is created with a budget of $200 million over five years.
Datapoint, the first company to offer networked computers, continues in the marketplace, but fails to achieve critical mass.
NSF announces the award of five supercomputing center contracts:
Cornell Theory Center (CTC), directed by Nobel laureate Ken Wilson;
The John Von Neumann Center (JVNC) at Princeton, directed by computational fluid dynamicist Steven Orszag;
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), directed at the University of Illinois by astrophysicist Larry Smarr;
The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), sharing locations at Westinghouse, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University, directed by Michael Levine and Ralph Roskies;
The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), on the campus of the University of California, San Diego, and administered by the General Atomics Company under the direction of nuclear engineer Sid Karin.
By the end of 1985, the number of hosts on the Internet (all TCP/IP interconnected networks) has reached 2,000.
MIT translates and publishes Computers and Communication by Dr. Koji Kobayashi, the Chairman of NEC. Dr. Kobayashi, who joined NEC in 1929, articulates his clear vision of ‘C & C’, the integration of computing and communication.
The 56Kbps backbone between the NSF centers leads to the creation of a number of regional feeder networks - JVNCNET, NYSERNET, SURANET, SDSCNET and BARRNET - among others. With the backbone, these regionals start to build a hub and spoke infrastructure. This growth in the number of interconnected networks drives a major expansion in the community including the DOE, DOD and NASA.
Between the beginning of 1986 and the end of 1987 the number of networks grows from 2,000 to nearly 30,000.
TCP/IP is available on workstations and PCs such as the newly introduced Compaq portable computer. Ethernet is becoming accepted for wiring inside buildings and across campuses. Each of these developments drives the introduction of terms such as bridging and routing and the need for readily available information on TCP/IP in workshops and manuals. Companies such as Proteon, Synoptics, Banyan, Cabletron, Wellfleet, and Cisco emerge with products to feed this explosion.
At the same time, other parts of the U.S. Government and many of the traditional computer vendors mount an attempt to validate their products being built to the OSI theoretical specifications, in the form of the Corporation for Open Systems.
USENET starts a major shakeup which becomes known as the ‘Great Renaming’. A driving force is that, as many messages are traveling over ARPANET, desirable new news groups such as ‘alt.sex’ and ‘alt.drugs’ are not allowed.
The NSF, realizing the rate and commercial significance of the growth of the Internet, signs a cooperative agreement with Merit Networks which is assisted by IBM and MCI. Rick Adams co-founds UUNET to provide commercial access to UUCP and the USENET newsgroups, which are now available for the PC. BITNET and CSNET also merge to form CREN.
The NSF starts to implement its T1 backbone between the supercomputing centers with 24 RT-PCs in parallel implemented by IBM as ‘parallel routers’. The T1 idea is so successful that proposals for T3 speeds in the backbone begin.
In early 1987 the number of hosts passes 10,000 and by year-end there have been over 1,000 RFCs issued.
Network management starts to become a major issue and it becomes clear that a protocol is needed between routers to allow remote management. SNMP is chosen as a simple, quick, near term solution.
The upgrade of the NSFNET backbone to T1 completes and the Internet starts to become more international with the connection of Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
In the US more regionals spring up - Los Nettos and CERFnet both in California. In addition, Fidonet, a popular traditional bulletin board system (BBS) joins the net.
Dan Lynch organizes the first Interop commercial conference in San Jose for vendors whose TCP/IP products interoperate reliably. 50 companies make the cut and 5,000 networkers come to see it all running, to see what works, and to learn what doesn’t work.
The US Government pronounces its OSI Profile (GOSIP) is to be supported in all products purchased for government use, and states that TCP/IP is an interim solution!
The Morris WORM burrows on the Internet into 6,000 of the 60,000 hosts now on the network. This is the first worm experience and DARPA forms the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to deal with future such incidents.
The number of hosts increases from 80,000 in January to 130,000 in July to over 160,000 in November!
Australia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom join the Internet.
Commercial e-mail relays start between MCIMail through CNRI and Compuserve through Ohio State. The Internet Architecture Board reorganizes again reforming the IETF and the IRTF.
Networks speed up. NSFNET T3 (45Mbps) nodes operate. At Interop 100Mbps LAN technology, known as FDDI, interoperates among several vendors. The telephone companies start to work on their own wide area packet switching service at higher speeds - calling it SMDS.
Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf at CNRI hold the first Gigabit (1000Mbps) Testbed workshops with funding from ARPA and NSF. Over 600 people from a wide range of industry, government and academia attend to discuss the formation of 6 gigabit testbeds across the country.
The Cray 3, a direct descendant of the Cray line, starting from the CDC 6600, is produced.
In Switzerland at CERN Tim Berners-Lee addresses the issue of the constant change in the currency of information and the turn-over of people on projects. Instead of an hierarchical or keyword organization, Berners-Lee proposes a hypertext system that will run across the Internet on different operating systems. This was the World Wide Web.
ARPANET formally shuts down. In twenty years, ‘the net’ has grown from 4 to over 300,000 hosts. Countries connecting in 1990 include Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Greece, India, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, and Switzerland.
Several search tools, such as ARCHIE, Gopher, and WAIS start to appear. Institutions like the National Library of Medicine, Dow Jones, and Dialog are now on line.
More ‘worms’ burrow on the net, with as many as 130 reports leading to 12 real ones! This is a further indication of the transition to a wider audience.
The net’s dramatic growth continues with NSF lifting any restrictions on commercial use. Interchanges form with popular providers such as UUNET and PSInet. Congress passes the Gore Bill to create the National Research and Education Network, or NREN initiative. In another sign of popularity, privacy becomes an ‘issue,’ with proposed solutions such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
The NSFNET backbone upgrades to T3, or 44 Mbps. Total traffic exceeds 1 trillion bytes, or 10 billion packets per month! Over 100 countries are now connected with over 600,000 hosts and nearly 5,000 separate networks.
WAIS’s and Gophers help meet the challenge of searching for information throughout this exploding infrastructure of computers.
The Internet becomes such a part of the computing establishment that a professional society forms to guide it on its way. The Internet Society (ISOC), with Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn among its founders, validates the coming of age of inter-networking and its pervasive role in the lives of professionals in developed countries. The IAB and its supporting committees become part of ISOC.
The number of networks exceeds 7,500 and the number of computers connected passes 1,000,000. The MBONE for the first time carries audio and video. The challenge to the telephone network’s dominance as the basis for communicating between people is seen for the first time; the Internet is no longer just for machines to talk to each other.
During the summer, students at NCSA in Champagne-Urbana modify Tim Berners-Lee’s hypertext proposal. In a few weeks MOSAIC is born within the campus. Larry Smarr shows it to Jim Clark, who founds Netscape as a result.
The WWW bursts into the world and the growth of the Internet explodes like a supernova. What had been doubling each year, now doubles in three months. What began as an ARPA experiment has, in the span of just 30 years, become a part of the world’s popular culture.
This timeline was initially created for the Supercomputing 97 Conference as a forty-foot long by ten-foot high wall. This wall embedded actual physical artifacts relating to the timeline and was produced with support from ACM/IEEE CS SC97.