Skip to main content
   

This chronology details the history of the Internet from 1940 to 2007 and will help students improve their understanding of chronology and the way one event can pave the way for another.

Download Timeline (83kb)

   

1945

A journal article by Vannevar Bush was published, describing a futuristic device called the ‘Memex’, which, had it ever been built, could have worked in a similar way to the World Wide Web.

   

1950

An article describing the first personal computer, called ‘Simon’, was published in the magazine Scientific American.

1957

USSR launched its Sputnik satellite, beating the United States into space.

1958

US President Eisenhower responded by setting up Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

   

1962

Joseph Licklider, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), published a scientific paper, outlining the idea of networked computers called the 'Galactic Network'.

1964

Paul Baran of the RAND Corporation published research on packets of information and recommended that encryption is built into large communication systems.

1966

ARPAnet research project began.

1967

Meeting between the National Physical Laboratories in Britain, RAND Corporation and ARPA to share ideas.

1968

Joseph Licklider published an article predicting the future of communication using computers.

1969

ARPAnet connected four host computers, in the United States, to create a ‘distributed network’.

1969

A film called ‘Telecommunications Services for the 1990s’ was made. NB Watch this film on the Connected Earth website at: www.connected-earth.com/learning

   

1971

Ray Tomlinson created email and chose the ‘@’ sign as way of separating a user’s name from their computer’s address.

1972

ARPAnet was revealed to the public. It had connections with 50 universities and research centres across the United States.

1973

ARPAnet went global, with international connections in England and Norway.

1974

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn published the design of the special communication protocols by which the Internet works today.

1975

ARPAnet’s first mailing list was created, called ‘MsgGroup’.

1976

Queen Elizabeth II sent an email, while visiting the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern, in the UK.

1977

Ken Olsen (the Chairman of a company called ‘Digital Equipment Corporation’) said he couldn’t see any reason why someone might need a computer in their home!

1978

The original ‘Multi-User Dungeon’ (or ‘MUD’) was created by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at Essex University, in the UK.

   

1980

Tim Berners-Lee started working at CERN physics laboratory in Switzerland.

1982

Norway and University College London left ARPAnet to become an Internet connection over a ‘Satellite Network connection’.

1983

A ‘Name Server’ was developed at the University of Wisconsin, which could deliver email messages without the sender having to specify the exact path they should take to reach their destinations.

1984

The Domain Name System is introduced so that computers could have Internet addresses made up of words, like ‘.com’ and ‘.gov’ instead of numbers.

1988

Jarkko Oikarinen, a university student in Finland, invented Internet Relay Chat – the forerunner to today’s Internet chat movement.

1988

‘Thinking Machines’ developed the first popular Internet search engine, called the Wide Area Information Servers system (or WAIS for short).

1989

Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web.

   

1990

Connections continued to spread through academic institutions in the United States, Canada and Europe – increasing the Internet’s size and reach.

1990

Alan Emtage, a student in Canada, wrote ‘Archie’, an early search tool.

1991

Tim Berners-Lee’s original browser, called WorldWideWeb, was introduced. The first website was info.cern.ch

1991

‘Gopher’, the most sophisticated search engine so far, was developed at the University of Minnesota, in the United States.

1991

The Internet opened for commercial use.

1993

‘Mosaic’, the first graphical web browser was launched.

1994

Pizza Hut announced that Internet users in the United States could now order Pizza online.

1994

The metasearch engine WebCrawler went live on the Internet.

1994

Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSL) was introduced to make online financial transactions secure.

1995

The ‘Security First Network Bank’ was launched in the United States.

1995

Amazon was founded as an online bookshop.

1995

eBay was launched in the United States under its original name ‘Auction Web’.

1996

Internet giant ‘Google’ began life at Stanford University in the United States when students Larry Page and Sergey Brin invented BackRub.

1997

The development of Wi-Fi technology began.

1998

PayPal was set up as a way of transferring money over the Internet – a bit like an electronic bank.

1998

Internet users determined the outcome of a TV sports show online for the first time, by judging a performance of 12 world champion ice skaters.

1999

The Napster music sharing website was created by Shawn Fanning.

1999

‘Roger Wilco’ – a free voice chat application used by online gamers – was developed.

   

2000

Broadband became available to people in the UK.

2000

Friends Reunited was launched.

2001

Apple launched the iPod, a portable media player.

2001

The Napster website was ordered to stay offline.

2002

Napster returned, but as a subscription service.

2003

Apple’s online shop ‘iTunes’ was launched.

2003

MySpace was created in the United States.

2003

Second Life, a 3-D Internet-based virtual world, was launched.

2004

Facebook was born at Harvard University in the United States.

2005

YouTube went live.

2006

Facebook became available to the general public.

2006

BT Vision was launched, enabling people to watch TV over broadband.

2007

Google was widely considered the most popular search engine.

2007

MySpace had over 200 million accounts and Facebook had over 34 million active members.

Download Timeline (83kb)

Suggested general background reading and timeline sources.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...