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A Little History of Internet

Hardware - Software - Philosophy

1934 The Belgian Paul Otlet launches the idea of Hypertext.

1945 In a paper ("As We May Think", 1945) Vannevar Bush describes a kind of hypertext link, called "memex".

1957 The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is created as a reaction to the successful launching of the Sputnik by the Russians, causing a crisis in American confidence. The Americans hoped not again to be caught off guard on the technological frontier, although, ironically, the greatest achievement of Arpa(net), i.e. the WWW, was realized by the Europeans.

1962 Psychologist and computer scientist JCR Licklider, working for ARPA, proposes to establish computer networks to augment human thinking, and enhance scientific communication.

1965 Ted Nelson coins the word "hypertext".

1966 Larry Roberts, consulted by ARPA, is the main architect of ARPANET. ARPANET includes 15 computers in California, Utah, Cambridge Mass.

1968 The American Department of Defense asks BBN (Bolt Beranek and Newman, Cambridge, Massachusetts) to rebuild ARPANET.

1971 Ray Tomlinson (BBN) sends the first email (probably "QWERTYUIOP"), after having written a first FTP (File Transfer Protocol: "CPYNET") to send files from one ARPANET PDP-10 computer to another in his office. He choosed "@" to start the address after the name of the receiver.

Progressively, the most important activity on ARPANET becomes email. By modem and telephone connections, many small and bigger networks are installed in the world, mainly to use a PC as a kind of terminal to a bigger computer at a university.

1980 While consulting for CERN (European Centre for Nuclear Research at Genève), Tim Berners-Lee writes a notebook program, "Enquire-Within-Upon-Everything", which allows links to be made between arbitrary nodes. Each node had a title, a type, and a list of bidirectional typed links.

1987 Bill Atkinson of Apple Computer realized the first real application with hypertext in his impressive Hypercard program.

1988 Eudora, the first email program, is developed at University of Illinois.

1989 In March 1989 the now historical document (or here) "Information Management: A Proposal" is written by Tim Berners-Lee and circulated for comments at CERN, 

In September 1989 Mike Sendall (Tim's manager at CERN) accepts the purchase of a NeXT cube, and allows Tim to go ahead and write a global hypertext system.

Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau (CERN) conceived HTML  (Hypertext Transfer Markup Language) as a very simple solution for transfer of texts and images, using the NeXTStep development environment.

1990 First names for the project were "Mesh", "Mine of Information", and "Information Mine", but Tim decided on "World Wide Web" when writing the code in 1990.

In November 1990 Robert Cailliau is co-author of the new version and proposal (12 November 1990). Initial WWW program development continues on the NeXT.

In December 1990 Tim Berners-Lee gives a CERN colloquium on hypertext in general. A WWW browser/editor is demonstrated: access is possible to hypertext files. 


In March 1991 a line mode browser (WWW) is released to a limited audience on "PRIAM" Vax, RS6000, Sun4.

In May 1991there is a general release of WWW on central CERN machines. 

On 12 June 1991 a CERN Computing Seminar is given on "Hypertext" and the WWW program.

In August  1991 files are available on the net by FTP. 

In October 1991 the CERN mailing lists www-interest (now www-announce) and [email protected] have been created.

In December 1991a poster and demonstration are presented at the conference Hypertext'91 in San Antonio, Texas (US).

The CERN Computer Newsletter (CNL) 204 announces WWW to the World!

On 12 December 1991 Paul Kunz installs first Web server outside of Europe, at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center)

Separately, Java technology was created as a programming tool in a small, closed-door project initiated by Patrick Naughton, Mike Sheridan, and James Gosling of Sun to anticipate and plan for the "next wave" in computing. Their initial conclusion was that at least one significant trend would be the convergence of digitally controlled consumer devices and computers. However, the project to launch JAVA as a major cable movie language was not a success.

1992 June: Presentation and demo at HEPVM (Lyon (FR)). People at FNAL (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (US)), NIKHEF (Nationaal Instituut voor Kern- en Hoge Energie Fysica, (NL)), DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron, Hamburg, (DE)) join the project with WWW servers.


In February 1993 NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois (US)) releases the first alpha version of Marc Andreesen's "Mosaic for X".

On 30 April 1993: declaration by CERN's directors that WWW technology would be freely usable by anyone, with no fees being payable to CERN. 

In October 1993 there are over 200 known HTTP servers.

The European Commission, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and CERN start the first Web-based project of the European Union (DG XIII): WISE, using the Web for dissemination of technological information to Europe's less favoured regions.

Robert Cailliau gets go-ahead from CERN management to organize the First International WWW Conference at CERN.


In March 1994 Marc Andreesen and colleagues leave NCSA to form "Mosaic Communications Corp." (now Netscape). 

In June over 1500 servers are now registered and the load on the first Web server ( is 1000 times what it has been 3 years earlier.

CERN decides, for stringent budget restrictions, imposed by the development of the new Hadron Collider, not to continue WWW development, and in concertation with the European Commission and INRIA (the Institut National pour la Recherche en Informatique et Automatique, FR) transfers the WebCore project to INRIA, France.

Hotmail starts web based email, checkable everywhere on the net.

In October 1994 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded. The Consortium's stated purpose is to "support the advancement of information technology in the field of networking, graphics and user interface by evolving the World Wide Web toward a true information infrastructure, and to encourage cooperation in the industry through the promotion and development of standard interfaces in the information envroment known as the 'World Wide Web."' (Berners-Lee). The W3C consists of a number of companies interested in the promotion of an interactive Web, and is headquartered at MIT. This organization will likely be the primary source of the newest innovations to the Web, and a sort of governing body for the Web. Tim Berners-Lee, who while at CERN created the original Web standards, is now the director of W3C.

1995 In March 1995 the JAVA source code was released over the Internet. The team knew that releasing code to developers for free is one of the fastest ways to create widespread adoption.

1996 Mirabilis (Israel) starts ICQ ("I Seek You"), the first and still most popular form of "Instant Messaging".

1998 Google is founded by two Stanford graduate students, who worked on the idea since 1995.

Microsoft acquires Hotmail; AOL acquires Mirabilis and Netscape.

Other interesting Links: The Pioneers  |  Ideas for an Interplanetary Internet

Est. 02/02 - Latest Update 28/2/02