Internet:History and future

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By the end of this section you will be able to give

  • A brief overview of the history of the Internet
  • Important Internet milestones
  • How the Internet has grown
  • What could be the future

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Learning Activity

Using the timeline tool Tiki-Toki ( ) (or another visual tool) create a timeline that visualizes your own evolution in internet use (spanning at least 5 years), against the major internet milestones described in the sources below.

On Wikipedia

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From W3C

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History - Interactive infographics

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Internet History: HTML Code Evolution 1.0 to 5.0 (INFOGRAPHIC) (Bartels, 2011)[1]

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History of the Internet INFOGRAPHIC( Powers, N.d.)[2]

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History of Search (Wordstream, 2010)[3]

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The Evolution of the Web (Google, Hyperakt, Vizzuality, 2011)[4]


History of the Internet (Bilgil, 2009)[5]


Future vision

A Day Made of Glass... Made possible by Corning.


Also to show advances in software: Miku 39 is a virtual Performer projected on a large glass screen performing with a live band, voice as well as image all computer generated.


1960’s - The Cold War

First ARPANET sites

The Internet has had a relatively brief history. It grew out of an experiment begun in the 1960’s by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). They wanted to create a computer network that would continue to function in the event of a disaster, such as a nuclear war. If part of the network were damaged or destroyed, the rest of the system still had to work. In 1962 Paul Baran of RAND Corporation published "On Distributed Communications Networks" which introduced Packet-switching (PS) networks; no single outage point. In this system packets of data are individually addressed and transferred from node to node, with none of the nodes being more important than any other.

1970’s -[71 ARPANET 4 Nodes, eMail, 75 ARPANET operational]

ARPANET Control Center

In 1969 a trial network, called ARPANET, was launched. To begin with there were 4 nodes or hosts, all super-computers at U.S. universities. Researchers at each institution could send data to each other and remotely control each other’s computers. Gradually through the early 70’s more hosts were added (see table 2.1.). In 1971 Ray Tomlinson developed email. In 1975 ARPANET had proved to be so successful that it was converted from an experimental network to an operational one.

Although ARPANET was supposed to be used for long-distance computer research, it quickly became apparent that most of the traffic was actually made up of messages sent from researcher to researcher. While many of the messages were notes about long distance networking, such as suggestions for improving the software and hardware of the network, they also included news, gossip and discussion about hobbies. From the beginning, the culture of the Internet, and the collaborative procedures for running it began to evolve.

ARPANET’s original standard for communication was known as Network Control Protocol or NCP. As more and more hosts were added through the 70’s, it became apparent that NCP would not be able to handle indefinite expansion. Researchers began to work out a new protocol that would allow billions of hosts to be added. This higher-level, more sophisticated standard was called TCP/IP.

By the late 70’s many other networks of computers had been created, all linked to ARPANET using the TCP/IP protocol. Around this time the whole thing began to be called the Internet.

1980’s - [83 MILNET, 85 NSF Net, 89 ARPANET retired]

In 1983 the original military segment of ARPANET broke away to form MILNET. One of the other networks was NSFNET, a series of networks for research and education communication created by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). In 1985, the NSF began to upgrade their national network – it was much faster than ARPANET so it took over the duty of the backbone of the Internet. At the same time, many regional networks were created to link individual institutions with the national backbone service. In 1989 ARPANET was finally retired.

1990 - [91:Berners-Lee Hypertext; 92: Veronica. 93:Mosaic, InterNIC]

NFS net 1992

The Internet grew rapidly in the late 80’s and early 90’s as people discovered its potential, and as new software applications were created to make access easier. In 1991 NSF lifted its ban on commercial traffic on its network and Corporations began to link their own networks to NSFNET.

In the early years of the Internet all navigation was by text-only computer commands, making it difficult for the non-programmer to understand. However in 1991 Tim Berners-Lee of CERN released the hypertext system, which allowed links to be made from page to page, and images to be included in pages. This system, called the World Wide Web really took off when the first easy to use browser, called Mosaic, was released by NSCA in 1993.

In 1993 the NSF set up a service called InterNIC, which registered all addresses on the Internet so that data could be routed to the right system.

Looking Back, Looking Forward Tim Berners Lee
Tim Berners-Lee icon of YouTube presentation : Looking Back, Looking Forward

1991 : Countries connected

Countries connected to internet in 1991

1994 - Navigator, IE, Java, Browser wars

Gradually commercial firms and other regional network providers took over the operation of the major Internet arteries from the NSF. Similarly Internet software was increasingly released by commercial firms, instead of as a result of collaboration by academics. As the WWW became more commercialised and easy to use, and as more multimedia applications became available, so its popularity exploded

1996 [NZ Xtra]

1997 [NZ: BankDirect]

Countries Connected ('97)

Countries connected to internet in 1997

1998 [Google, NZ:Telecom trials broadband]

1999 [First Blog, Napster, NZ:TradeMe, Jetstream]





Internet 2: Abilene backbone map

Internet2, Abilene backbone and performance ('03)

Abilene is a 10-Gigabit-per-second national backbone supporting high-performance connectivity and Internet innovation within the U.S. research university community. The set of advanced services supported include IPv6 and multicast and Abilene’s leading-edge infrastructure supports applications such as Internet-based High Definition Television and remote control of distant telescopes. ( )

Comparison of speeds: Downloading the DVD Movie "The Matrix"

The Matrix DVD box
Type Speed
56K Modem 171 hours
ISDN 74 hours
DSL/Cable 25 hours
T1 6.4 hours
Internet2 30 seconds

Source: Mike Wendland (2003)



geographical search engines

Dial-up vs Broadband The OECD ranks countries by total broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. New Zealand's total base of 283,798 translates into 6.9 subscribers per 100. South Korea was again first, with 25.5 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. (Nowak, 2005, October 25)[7]


New Zealand


Personal spaces


Online help files

Mobile access




Mobile Technologies

New Zealand


2007 Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections

Japan has the world's fastest Internet connections, and delivers more data at a lower cost than anywhere else in the world. In fact, broadband service in Japan is between eight to 30 times faster than in the United States and much less expensive. Faster Internet speeds in Japan, South Korea, and much of Europe will lead to Internet innovations that are likely to remain unavailable in the United States for many years. The high Internet speeds in Japan allow Internet users to watch broadcast quality, full-screen television over the Internet while all most Americans can access are wallet-sized, grainy images. Other Internet applications in Japan currently unavailable to Americans include low-cost, high-definition teleconferencing, which has been used by doctors in urban areas to diagnose patients, and advanced telecommuting. Analysts say Japan's advancement is largely due to better wire and more aggressive government regulation. In 2000, the Japanese government compelled its large phone companies to share wires with startup Internet providers. As competition grew, the cost of broadband in Japan fell by about half and broadband speed increased 33-fold. In 1996, a similar measure to allow access to phone company lines was strongly endorsed by Congress, but federal support fell through in 2003 and 2004 when the Federal Communications Commission and a federal court ruled major companies do not have to share phone or fiber lines with competitors, and the Bush administration did not appeal the decision. "The Bush administration largely turned its back on the Internet, so we have just drifted downwards," says former U.S. diplomat to Japan Thomas Bleha. (Harden ,2007, August 29)[9]

2007 Internet map

The shape of the online universe

The shape of the online universe. This image shows the hierarchical structure of the Internet, based on the connections between individual nodes (such as service providers). Three distinct regions are apparent: an inner core of highly connected nodes, an outer periphery of isolated networks, and a mantle-like mass of peer-connected nodes. The bigger the node, the more connections it has. Those nodes that are closest to the center are connected to more well-connected nodes than are those on the periphery. Image Credit: Lanet-vi program of I. Alvarez-Hamelin et al. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) Graham-Rowe, D. (2007, June 19) Mapping the Internet Routing traffic through peer-to-peer networks could stave off Internet congestion, according to a new study. Retrieved June 21, 2007 from


Early 2008 Statistics NZ announced broadband subscribers had overtaken dial-up. To December 2007 there were 757,100 broadband subscribers and for every 100 people 18.3 had a broadband connection (the OECD average is 20 per 100) (Hoyle, 2008, May 21)[10].




So long

The Internet in 60 seconds (2011)[14]

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How The World Spends Its Time Online (visualeconomics, 2010)[15]

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What Happens In An Internet Minute?

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The Internet is growing exponentially. It doubles in size every 18 months. The table below shows the growth of the Internet, measured in the number of hosts, i.e. the number of unique IP addresses registered.

Table of internet hosts by month and year 1969-86

Source: Hobbes’ Internet Timeline: .

Timeline graph of Internet growth showing exponential growth

Internet growth in New Zealand 1999-2004

In the NZ Internet E-commerce Outlook report (IDC) Feb 2000, the number of Kiwis with internet access were estimated at

(Source: IDG ( )


Selected moments from Google history

6 Predictions for the internet

6 Predictions about the internet

Six quirky Predictions about the internet, Would be interesting to see these come true.

History of the Australian Web (Graphical)

History of the Australian Web(n.d.)[17]

Comments for the page

Hey, the page looks a bit chaotic. But that doesn't hurt. You've certainly got me thinking. That tiki-toki tool is interesting. I keep thinking about how to displays parrallel evolutions.

I'd tend to ask students to do "their" version, after assembling a few more interesting perspectives. This one might be useful. It tends to break down the belief that the internet is some cohesive thing.

The "evolution of html" is obviously still too close to the top. Tim berners lee's proposal for the www being in 1990. As he said ""I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta- da!—the World Wide Web."

So maybe some background on the history of hypertext may be an idea. This one's not real good.

You might also want to bring "the internet" down to a local level and ask students, "so which network do we use to connect to the Internet in this classroom?". That should get a few brain cells twitching. (Just so you're a chapter ahead. It's at your end)

Do us a favour. I'm not based anywhere. Been travelling for the past 18 months. Europe last year. Asia this. Thailand today. Please don't "consider a separate part for other countries". I spend most of my time trying to get NRENs to collaborate. They don't. They compare. That's why OERers end up having to cobble together tools like this google group, with a wiki (in our case). AsiaPac doesn't have an (active) association for NRENs. But the euo based one is not bad.

Government and education are the only two industries which can't adapt to a globalized world. They just can't get past their national borders. I won't rave on here as I want to start at wayne's critical point - ".. a ludicrous situation where taxpayers are frequently required to pay twice for their learning materials."

21/8/2011: Simonfj

(Looks like I really do have to rebuild this page!! - vmvadmin 20:04, 21 August 2011 (EDT) )

Icon References.png References

  1. Bartels, A. (2011)Internet History: HTML Code Evolution 1.0 to 5.0 (INFOGRAPHIC)<. Retrieved from
  2. Powers, J (n.d.) History of the Internet. Retrieved from
  3. Wordstream (2010) Internet History of Search. Retrieved from
  4. Google, Hyperakt, Vizzuality (2011) The Evolution of the Web. Retrieved from
  5. (Bilgil, M.(2009). History of the Internet. Retrieved from
  6. Webdesigner Depot (2009) The History and Evolution of Social Media Retrieved from
  7. Nowak, P. (2005, October 25) Free calls mean less broadband – Telecom. Retrieved March 20, 2005 from
  8. Gruener, W. (2007, Oct 9) 100 Gb/s Internet2 Completed. TG Daily Retrieved October 11, 2007 from
  9. Harden, B. (2007, August 29) Japan's Warp-Speed Ride to Internet Future. Retrieved August 29, 2007 from Washington Post
  10. Hoyle, J. (2008, May 21) NZ broadband uptake raises OECD ranking. The Dominion Post, C1.
  11. Krause, R. (2010)World Wide Web May Split Up Into Several Separate Networks. Retrieved February 1, 2010 from
  12. Cox, J. (2010). Five billionth device about to plug into Internet.Network World (08/16/10). Retrieved August 25, 2010 from
  13. Hayes, I., (2011, May 24) But how should I address you?. Retrieved from
  14. The Internet in 60 seconds. (2011) Retrieved June 19, 2011 from
  15. visualeconomics (2010) How The World Spends Its Time Online. Retrieved from
  16. Harris, C (2012, Nov 1) Kiwis still behind in adopting new tech. Dominion Post. Retrieved from
  17. History of the Australian Web(n.d.). Retrieved August 7, 2009 from

Internet:History and future. (2014). In virtualMV's ( Michael Verhaart ) wiki. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from    (zotero)
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