[ 1950s ] [ 1960s ] [ 1970s ] [ 1980s ] [ 1990s ] [ Growth ] [ FAQ ] [ Sources ]

Hobbes' Internet Timeline v2.4a


Robert H'obbes' Zakon
Internet Evangelist
The MITRE Corporation

Hobbes' Internet Timeline Copyright (c)1993-6 by Robert H Zakon. Permission is granted for use of this document in whole or in part for non commercial purposes as long as appropriate credit is given to the author/maintainer. A copy of the material the Timeline appears in is appreciated. For commercial uses, please contact the author first.

The author wishes to acknowledge the Internet Society for hosting this document, and the many Net folks who have contributed suggestions and helped with the author's genealogy search.

Additional information about the Internet may be found at Hobbes' Internet World


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


Paul Baran, RAND: "On Distributed Communications Networks"

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

ACM Symposium on Operating Principles

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Middlesex, England develops NPL Data Network under D. W. Davies

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

ARPANET commissioned by DoD for research into networking

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


Store-and-forward networks

ALOHAnet developed by Norman Abrahamson, U of Hawaii (:sk2:)

ARPANET hosts start using Network Control Protocol (NCP).

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

International Conference on Computer Communications with demonstration of ARPANET between 40 machines and the Terminal Interface Processor (TIP) organized by Bob Kahn.

InterNetworking Working Group (INWG) created to address need for establishing agreed upon protocols. Chairman: Vinton Cerf.

Ray Tomlinson of BBN invents email program to send messages across a distributed network. (:amk:)

Telnet specification (RFC 318)

First international connections to the ARPANET: University College of London (England) and Royal Radar Establishment (Norway)

Bob Metcalfe's Harvard PhD Thesis outlines idea for Ethernet (:amk:)

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

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

File Transfer specification (RFC 454)

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn publish "A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication" 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)

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

Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom sends out an e-mail (various Net folks have e-mailed dates ranging from 1971 to 1978; 1976 was the most submitted and the only found in print)

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

THEORYNET created by Larry Landweber at U of Wisconsin providing electronic mail to over 100 researchers in computer science (using a locally developed email system and TELENET for access to server).

Mail specification (RFC 733)

Tymshare launches Tymnet

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

Meeting between U of Wisconsin, DARPA, 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 and Steve Bellovin. All original groups 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.


BITNET, the "Because It's Time NETwork"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cutover from NCP to TCP/IP (1 January)

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.

Desktop workstations come into being, many with Berkeley UNIX which includes IP networking software.

Need switches from having a single, large time sharing computer connected to Internet per site, to connection of an entire local network.

Internet Activities Board (IAB) established, replacing ICCB

Berkeley releases 4.2BSD incorporating TCP/IP (:mpc:)

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

FidoNet developed by Tom Jennings.

Domain Name Server (DNS) introduced.

# 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 written by William Gibson

Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) started

NSFNET created (backbone speed of 56Kbps)

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.

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

1000th RFC: "Request For Comments reference guide"

# of hosts breaks 10,000

# of BITNET hosts breaks 1,000

1 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. # of advisories-reports/years: 1/88, 7/89, 12-130/90, 23/91, 21-800/92, 18-1,300/93, 15-2,300/94

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

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

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

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden

# 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 U (:jg1,ph1:)

Corporation for Research and Education Networking (CREN) is formed by the merge of CSNET into BITNET

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) comes into existence under the IAB

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

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

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Australia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, 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 (U of Saskatchewan)

The World comes on-line (world.std.com), 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, (controlled via SNMP) makes its debut at Interop. [picture]

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Greece, India, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland

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 (: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 U of Minn

World-Wide Web (WWW) released by CERN; Tim Berners-Lee developer (:pb1:)

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

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Croatia, Czech Repulic, Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Tunisia

Internet Society (ISOC) is chartered

# of hosts breaks 1,000,000

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

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

Veronica, a gopherspace search tool, is released by UofNevada

World Bank comes on-line

Internet Hunt started by Rick Gates

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Cameroon, Cyprus, Ecuador, Estonia, Kuwait, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Venezuela

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

US White House comes on-line (http://www.whitehouse.gov/):

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) come on-line (:vgc:)

US National Information Infrastructure Act

Businesses and media really take notice of the Internet

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

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Guam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Peru, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukrayne, UAE, Virgin Islands

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 (http://www.kantei.go.jp/)

UK's HM Treasury on-line (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/)

New Zealand's Info Tech Prime Minister on-line (http://www.govt.nz/)

First Virtual, the first cyberbank, open up for business

Radio stations start rockin' (rebroadcasting) round the clock on the Net: WXYC at UofNC, WJHK at UofKS-Lawrence, KUGS at Western WA U.

Trans-European Research and Education Network Association (TERENA) is formed by the merge of RARE and EARN, with representatives from 38 countries as well as CERN and ECMWF. TERERNA'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"

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Algeria, Armenia, Bermuda, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, French Polynesia, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macau, Morocco, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Uruguay, Uzbekistan

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

Hong Kong police disconnect all but 1 of the colony's Internet providers in search of a hacker. 10,000 people are left without Net access. (:api:)

Radio HK, the first 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, American Online, Prodigy) begin to provide Internet access

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

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

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 (http://www.vatican.va/)

The Canadian Goverment comes on-line (http://canada.gc.ca/)

The first official Internet wiretap was successful in helping the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) aprehend 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.

Technologies of the Year: WWW, Search engines
Emerging Technologies: Mobile code (JAVA, JAVAscript), Virtual environments (VRML), Collaborative tools

The Internet 1996 World Exposition - the first World's Fair to take place on the Internet

"A Day in the Life of the Internet" begs to be published (:rhz:)


Internet growth:

   Date       Hosts        |      Date       Hosts     Networks    Domains
   -----    ---------      +      -----    ---------   --------    -------
    1969            4      |      07/89      130,000        650      3,900
   04/71           23      |      10/89      159,000        837
   06/74           62      |      10/90      313,000      2,063      9,300
   03/77          111      |      01/91      376,000      2,338
   08/81          213      |      07/91      535,000      3,086     16,000
   05/82          235      |      10/91      617,000      3,556     18,000
   08/83          562      |      01/92      727,000      4,526
   10/84        1,024      |      04/92      890,000      5,291     20,000
   10/85        1,961      |      07/92      992,000      6,569     16,300
   02/86        2,308      |      10/92    1,136,000      7,505     18,100
   11/86        5,089      |      01/93    1,313,000      8,258     21,000
   12/87       28,174      |      04/93    1,486,000      9,722     22,000
   07/88       33,000      |      07/93    1,776,000     13,767     26,000
   10/88       56,000      |      10/93    2,056,000     16,533     28,000
   01/89       80,000      |      01/94    2,217,000     20,539     30,000
                           |      07/94    3,212,000     25,210     46,000
                           |      10/94    3,864,000     37,022     56,000
                           |      01/95    4,852,000     39,410     71,000
                           |      07/95    6,642,000     61,538    120,000
                           |      01/96    9,472,000     93,671    240,000
Figure: Internet hosts

Figure: Internet networks and domains

Worldwide networks growth: (I)nternet (B)ITNET (U)UCP (F)IDONET (O)SI

           ____# Countries____                         ____# Countries____
   Date     I   B   U   F   O                  Date     I   B   U   F   O
   -----   --- --- --- --- ---                 -----   --- --- --- --- ---
   09/91    31  47  79  49                     08/93    59  51 117  84  31
   12/91    33  46  78  53                     02/94    62  51 125  88  31
   02/92    38  46  92  63                     07/94    75  52 129  89  31
   04/92    40  47  90  66  25                 11/94    81  51 133  95  --
   08/92    49  46  89  67  26                 02/95    86  48 141  98  --
   01/93    50  50 101  72  31                 06/95    96  47 144  99  --
   04/93    56  51 107  79  31
Figure: Worldwide networks growth

USENET growth:

   Date  Sites  ~MB  ~Posts  Groups  |  Date   Sites   ~MB  ~Posts  Groups
   ----  -----  ---  ------  ------  +  ----  -------  ---  ------  ------
   1979      3            2       3  |  1986     2200  2.0     946     241
   1980     15           10          |  1987     5200  2.1     957     259
   1981    150  0.05     20          |  1988     7800  4.4    1933     381
   1982    400           35          |  HELP: Where is data archived for
   1983    600          120          |        this period 1989-1991?
   1984    900          225          |  1992   63,000   42  17,556
   1985   1300  1.0     375          |  1993   69,000   50  19,362
                                     |  1994  190,000  190  72,755

      ~ approximate: MB - megabytes per day, Posts - articles per day
Additional growth charts (square root, logarithmic) available from http://www.is-bremen.de/~mhi/inetgrow.htm.

Hobbes' Internet Timeline FAQ

1. Why did you compile Hobbes' Internet Timeline?
For use in the Internet courses I teach: Introduction to the Internet, Internet Tools Administration, and Net Surfing 101.

2. How do I get Hobbes' Internet Timeline?
The Timeline is archived at: http://info.isoc.org/guest/zakon/Internet/History/HIT.html. If you prefer a copy via e-mail, send a blank message to timeline@hobbes.mitre.org. For comments/corrections please use hobbes@hobbes.mitre.org.

3. What do you do at MITRE?
I design the soccer shoe of the future (wrong MITRE :-) Actually, I wear the following hats: Net Evangelist, HCI Engineer, Systems Integrator, Information Engineer, NIDR Administrator, Lead Scientist, Instructor, He with the Most Toys

4. Why don't you list the # of Internet users?
This is too controversial, and relatively inaccurate, an issue which the author does not want to get flamed or spammed for. His guess would be between 1 (himself) and 5 billion (but then again, one never knows if you're a dog on the Net).

5. Is your license plate really NET SURF?
Yes, and there is a frame around it with INTERNET at the top, and my e-mail address at the bottom. (My wife is too embarrassed to drive it:) Oh, and the bumper sticker says "I'd Rather Be Net Surfing"

6. Can I re-print the Timeline or use parts of it for ... ?
Drop me an e-mail. The answer is most likely (though don't assume) 'yes' for non-profit use, and 'maybe' for for-profit; but to be sure you are not going to break any copyright laws, drop me an e-mail and wait for a reply.

[ I realize the question below is outdated, but I leave it as proof of my prediction powers :-]
7. Who do you think is going to win the '94 World Cup?
Brasil, of course! (I was born in Rio de Janeiro ...)

8. Peddie (Ala Viva!), CWRU (North Side), Amici Usque Ad Aras (OH Epsilon)
E-mail me if you know


Hobbes' Internet Timeline was compiled from a number of sources, with some
of the stand-outs being:

Cerf, Vinton (as told to Bernard Aboba). "How the Internet Came to Be."
This article appears in "The Online User's Encyclopedia," by Bernard Aboba.
Addison-Wesley, 1993.

Hardy, Henry. "The History of the Net."  Master's Thesis, School of
Communications, Grand Valley State University.

Hauben, Ronda and Michael. "The Netizens and the Wonderful World of the Net."
and http://scrg.cs.tcd.ie/scrg/u/rcwoods/netbook/contents.html

Kulikowski, Stan II. "A Timeline of Network History." (author's email below)

Quarterman, John. "The Matrix: Computer Networks and Conferencing Systems
Worldwide."  Bedford, MA: Digital Press. 1990

"ARPANET, the Defense Data Network, and Internet".  Encyclopedia of 
Communications, Volume 1.  Editors: Fritz Froehlich, Allen Kent.  
New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. 1991

Internet growth summary compiled from:
  - zone program reports maintained by Mark Lottor at:
  - connectivity table maintained by Larry Landweber at:

USENET growth summary compiled from Quarterman and Hauben sources above,
and news.lists postings.  Lots of historical USENET postings also provided 
by Tom Fitzgerald (fitz@wang.com). 

Many of the URLs provided by Arnaud Dufour (arnaud.dufour@hec.unil.ch)

Contributors to Hobbes' Internet Timeline have their initials next to the
contributed items in the form (:zzz:) and are:

ad1 - Arnaud Dufour (arnaud.dufour@hec.unil.ch)
amk - Alex McKenzie (mckenzie@bbn.com)
ec1 - Eric Carroll (eric@enfm.utcc.utoronto.ca)
esr - Eric S. Raymond (esr@locke.ccil.org)
feg - Farrell E. Gerbode (farrell@is.rice.edu)
gck - Gary C. Kessler (kumquat@hill.com)
glg - Gail L. Grant (grant@openmarket.com)
gmc - Grant McCall (g.mccall@unsw.edu.au)
jg1 - Jim Gaynor (gaynor@agvax.ag.ohio.state.edu)
lhl - Larry H. Landweber (lhl@cs.wisc.edu)
mpc - Mellisa P. Chase (pc@mitre.org)
pb1 - Paul Burchard (burchard@cs.princeton.edu)
ph1 - Peter Hoffman (hoffman@ece.nps.navy.mil)
rab - Roger A. Bielefeld (rab@hal.cwru.edu)
sc1 - Susan Calcari (susanc@is.internic.net)
sk2 - Stan Kulikowski (stankuli@uwf.bitnet) - see sources section
tp1 - Tim Pozar (pozar@kumr.lns.com)
vgc - Vinton Cerf (vcerf@isoc.org) - see sources section
zby - Zenel Batagelj (zenel.batagelj@uni-lj.si)

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) ;-) Help the Author (-: (-: (-: (-: (-: (-: (-: The author is on an eternal genealogical search. If you know of someone whose last name is Zakon or could spare 1 minute to check your local phone book, please e-mail any info (i.e., name, phone, address, city) to rhz@po.cwru.edu; your help is greatly appreciated. Help update: Thanks to Net folks, 32 new Zakon's have been found so far, making the current total around 150! (this after a decade of research)
Archive-name: Hobbes' Internet Timeline v2.3a Archive-location: http://info.isoc.org/guest/zakon/Internet/History/HIT.html Last-updated: 22 February 1996 Maintainer: Robert H'obbes' Zakon, zakon@info.isoc.org Description: An Internet timeline highlighting some of the key events and technologies which helped shape the Internet as we know it today.