February 26: Origins of the Internet

A timeline of select important events about the origins of the internet.

Source: Internet Society
Published: February 1997

Origins of the Internet

The concept of globally interconnected computers began to take shape during the 1960s. The research at MIT, RAND, and NPL proceeded in parallel without any of the researchers knowing about the other work— a problem the internet would one day help researchers overcome.

A timeline of select important events:

Year: 1961
Event: The feasibility of computers communicating through packets rather than circuits was first understood. This is known as the ‘packet switching theory.’
Key Contributors: Leonard Kleinrock

Year: 1962
Event: The ‘Galactic Network’ concept - networking that enabled social interactions through interconnected computers - was examined.
Key Contributors: J.C.R. Licklider

Year: 1965
Event: The first wide-area computer network was built with a low-speed dial-up telephone line.
Key Contributors: Lawrence G. Roberts and Thomas Merrill

Year: 1966
Event: A planfor an experimental network for computers -  ARPANET (the ‘Advanced Research Projects Agency Network’ of the U.S. Department of Defense)-  was developed.
Key Contributors: Lawrence G. Roberts

Year: 1968
Event: The development of Interface Message Processors (packet switches) began. IMPs were integral to data communications because they grouped data in order to be transmitted effectively.
Key Contributors: Frank Heart and Bob Kahn

Year: 1969
Event: The first messages were sent between computers, marking the beginnings of the internet. The first message was “LO’ because the network crashed before finishing the message.
Key Contributors: UCLA was the first host computer and it was connected to the Stanford Research Institute

Year: 1972
Event: Electronic mail application was introduced, which took off as the most popular app for over a decade and propelled the use of the internet forward.
Key Contributors: Ray Tomlinson and Lawrence G. Roberts

Bonus: Familiar with the early days of the internet? Join the discussion.


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