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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The World Wide Web unofficial History 1/3

The early days

1858, was the year for the very first try on Cable, carrying instantaneous communications across the ocean. 1866 marks the very first success. It remained in use for almost 100 years.

1876, was the year of the Telephone official (patented) birth. Telephones still provide the backbone of Internet connections today.

1957 (October, 4th), USSR launches the Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite.

1958 (February, 7th), in response, US Department of Defense, establishes the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), fitting together some of the America’s most brilliant people, who developed the first US successful satellite in 18 months. Years later ARPA changed the focus on computer networking and communications technology.

1962, Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (Lick), one of the most important figures in computer science, was chosen to head ARPA’s research in improving the military’s use of computer technology. He contributes in conceiving, funding and managing the research that led to modern personal computers and Internet. He sought the need to move ARPA’s contracts from the private sector to universities. His office developed into a far-reaching basic research program in advanced technology, and was renamed to Information Processing Techniques (IPT or IPTO) to reflect that change. Paul Baran of RAND Corporation publishes the paper “On Distributed Communications Networks” which introduces Packet-switching (PS) networks; no single outage point.

1965, ARPA sponsors study on “cooperative network of time-sharing computers” -- TX-2 at MIT Lincoln Lab and Q-32 at System Development Corporation (Santa Monica, CA) are directly linked (without packet switches). The e-mail was invented, and still the main way of inter-person communication on the Internet today.

1967, ARPA held its yearly meeting, results from the previous year's research was summarized and future research was discussed, Networking was one of the topics brought up at this meeting. After one draft and additional work on this communications position paper report, a two-day meeting was scheduled in early October 1967 by ARPA to "discuss the protocol paper and specifications for the Interface Message Processor (IMP)."

1968, the specification of for the Interface Message Processor (IMP), was completed, the ARPANET procurement officially started. The first meeting of the Network Working Group occurs, with programmers from several of the first hosts to be connected to the network. First packet-switching network was operational and in-place at the National Physical Laboratories in the UK. Parallel efforts in France also resulted in an early packet-switching network at Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques.

1969, is “officially” considered the Birth of Internet. First node at UCLA (Los Angeles) closely followed by nodes at Stanford Research Institute, UCSB (Santa Barbara) and U of Utah (4 Nodes). Information Message Processors (IMP) was developed by BBN Technologies (originally Bolt Beranek and Newman on a ruggedized Honeywell DDP 516 “minicomputer”. The system delivered messages between the 4 nodes network above. It was the first generation of what is known as a router today.

The first LOGIN, on a four-node network (University of California, Los Angeles – Stanford Research Institute – University of California, Santa Barbara – University of Utah in Salt Lake City), the folks from UCLA hope to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send some data. They would start by typing “login”, and seeing the letters appeared on the far-off monitor.

Typed “L” (ok) – typed “O” (ok) – typed “G” – The system crashed, and a revolution had begun…

There is at least one report that indicates experimental inter-system e-mail transfers at ARPA.

1970, Norman Abrahamson develops ALOHAnet at University of Hawaii. ALOHAnet provided the background for the work which later becam e Ethernet. ARPANET hosts start using Network Control Protocol (NCP). This protocol was used until 1982 at which time it was replaced with TCP/IP.

1971, ARPANET had grown to 15 nodes which included 26 hosts: UCLA, SRI, UCSB, University of Utah, BBN, MIT, RAND, SDC, Harvard, Lincoln Lab, Stanford, UIUC, CWRU, CMU, and NASA(Ames). Ray Tomlinson initiated the use of the @ sign to separate the names of the user and their machines in e-mails. The e-mail popularity significantly increased, and it became the killer app of the ARPANET.

All the basic protocols were established and teste d. The first ARPANET successful tests took place.

1972, first public demonstration of ARPANET (between 40 machines) in the basement of the Washington Hilton hotel, letting the public come in and use the ARPANET, running applications all over the U.S. With the name changed into DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), start working on a number of other data transmission technologies, like the NCP and IP protocols, which later becomes the TCP/IP ptotocol.

1973, First international connections to the ARPANET: University College of London (England) and Royal Radar Establishment (Norway). First published outline for the idea of Ethernet: Bob Metcalfe's Harvard PhD Thesis. -- this how local networks are basically connected today. Gateway architecture sketched on back of enve lo pe in hotel lobby in San Francisco. Gateways define how large networks (maybe of different architecture) can be connected together.

1974, the design of TCP was given in "A Protocol for Packet Network Internetworking" by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn. -- how computers send and receive data. DARPA then contracted with BBN Technologies, Stanford University, and the University College London to develop operational versions of the TCP protocol on different hardware platforms. Telenet, a commercial version of ARPANET, opened -- the first public packet data service.

1975, a two-network TCP/IP communications test was performed between Stanford and University College London (UCL).

1976, UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy Program) is developed at AT&T Bell Labs and distributed with UNIX the following year. Queen Elizabeth sends out an e-mail. – Networking comes to many.

1977, Number of hosts breaks 100. A three-network TCP/IP test was conducted between the U.S., UK, and Norway. THEORYNET provides electronic mail to over 100 researchers in computer science (using a locally developed E- mail system and TELENET for access to server). Mail specification was released. First demonstration of ARPANET/Packet Radio Net/SATNET operation of Internet protocols over gateways.

1978-1983, several other TCP/IP prototypes were developed at multiple research centers. Many Networking groups have been created, like: USENET, PRNET, BITNET and CSNET.

1980, physicist Tim Berners-Lee, who was an independent contractor at CERN (Centre European pour la Recherche Nucleaire), proposed and prototyped ENQUIRE, a system for CERN researchers to use and share documents. Rather than a web browser, ENQUIRE was closer to a wiki.

1982, the term “Internet” was created by Vinton Celf.

1983, a Data Communications (DC) Group was set up in the CERN computing division. Berkeley releases new version of UNIX 4.2BSD incorporating TCP/IP. Name Server was developed at University of Wisconsin.

1984, TCP/IP protocol, was introduced at CERN on some key non-Unix machines at CERN including the central IBM-VM mainframe and a VAX VMS system.

Domain Name Server (DNS) was introduced.
  • instead of 123.456.789.10
  • it is easier to remember something like www.myuniversity.mydept.mynetwork.mycountry
  • e.g.

1986, NSF (National Science Foundation – U.S.) establishes 5 super-computing centers to provide high-computing power for all -- This allows an explosion of connections, especially from universities. NSFNET (National Science Foundation network) was created with a backbone speed of 56 Kbps.

1987, Commercialization of Internet was Born. UUNET is founded with Usenix funds to provide commercial UUCP and Usenet access. NSF and Merit Network, Inc. agree to manage the NSFNET backbone.

1988, NSFNET backbone upgraded to T1 (1.544 Mbps) Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed. Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden are on NSFNET.

1989, Tim Berners-Lee, wrote a large hypertext database with typed links, with little interest. His boss, Mike Sendall, encouraged Berners-Lee to begin implementing his system on a newly acquired NeXT workstation. After considering several names, he settled on World Wide Web. First relays between a commercial electronic mail carrier and the Internet. Australia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, UK on NSFNET

1990, Tim Berners-Lee, found an enthusiastic collaborator in Robert Cailliau, who rewrote Tim’s proposal (re-published on November 12, 1990) and sought resources within CERN. Berners-Lee and Cailliau pitched their ideas to the European Conference on Hypertext Technology in September 1990, but found no vendors who could appreciate their vision of marrying hypertext with the Internet.

ARPANET ceases to exist.

CERN had become the largest Internet site in Europe. A Joint proposal for a hypertext system is presented to the management. The first web browser, named “World Wide Web editor”, has been created.

The World comes on-line (, becoming the first commercial provider of Internet dial-up access. NSFNET replaces ARPANET. Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Greece, India, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland on NSFNET. Gopher, a Text based, menu-driven interface to access internet resources, was released by Paul Lindner and Mark P. McCahill from the University of Minnesota.

1991, At CERN, the first website went on-line. Based on the concept of hypertext, the project was aimed at facilitating sharing information among researchers. First server outside of Europe was created at SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) by Paul Kunz, who visited CERN and brought the NeXT software back to SLAC, where librarian Louise Addis adapted it for the VM/CMS operating system on the IBM mainframe as a way to display SLAC’s catalog of online documents.

1992, Berners-Lee and the CERN team released the first draft HTML 1.0. It was a document called “HTML Tags”, first mentioned on the Internet by Berners-Lee in late 1991. It describes 22 elements comprising the initial, relatively simple design of HTML. Thirteen of these elements still exist in HTML 4. The first two line mode multi platforms (other then NeXTcube) browsers stable versions get released.

The Libwww Line Mode Browser, written by Nicola Pellow, an intern working at CERN, and Lynx web browser at University of Kansas. Its ability to provide hypertext links within documents that could reach into documents anywhere on the Internet, has contributed a lot to the creation of the web on the Internet. The world has 50 Web Servers then.

ViolaWWW was created by Pei-Yuan Wei, who at the time was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. It was the first browser to use authoring technology such as embedded scriptable objects, stylesheets, and tables.

Midas, a third browser for Unix systems, was developed during the summer of this year by Tony Johnson at SLAC,to help distribute information to colleagues about his physics research.

MacWWW, also known as Samba, was meant to run on Macintosh computers. Written by Robert Cailliau at CERN, it was the first web browser for the Mac platform, and the first for any non-Unix OS.

Unlike modern browsers it opens each link in a new window. It was a commercial software, and costs 50 ECU (European Currency Units). The source code was also available.

1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone. A copy of the original first webpage, created by Berners-Lee, is kept here.

The “World Wide Web editor” was written using the Next computer, using the “application builder”, and Objective-C.

Later in 1993, Mosaic web browser was released by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois. The intention was to supplement the two existing web browsers: one that ran only on NeXTSTEP, and one that was only minimally user-friendly. It could display and link graphics as well as text to anchor hypertext links, and quickly became the replacement for Lynx.

The Mosaic Web browser, may be considered “The turning point of the World Wide Web”, the project begun in 1992 when NCSA established a website. Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina began work on Mosaic, which was released in February 1993.

After Andreessen’s graduation, he and James H. Clark, former CEO of Silicon Graphics, met and formed Mosaic Communications Corporation (MCC) to develop the Mosaic browser commercially.

You can see the original MCC page from here.

The first Microsoft Windows browser was Cello, written by Thomas R. Bruce for the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School to provide legal information, since most lawyers had access to Windows but not to Unix. Cello was released in June 1993.

The World has 250 Web Server then.

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