Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Nerds 2.0.1
[section buttons]
Internet Timeline
[page buttons]

dot 1981

BITNET, the "Because It's Time NETwork" started as a cooperative network at the City University of New York, with the first connection to Yale.
Provides electronic mail and listserv servers to distribute information, as well as file transfers.

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

dot 1982

DCA and ARPA establish the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, for ARPANET. (:vgc:) This leads to one of the first definitions of an "internet" as a connected set of networks, specifically those using TCP/IP, and "Internet" as connected TCP/IP internets. DoD declares TCP/IP suite to be standard for DoD (:vgc:)

dot 1983

Name server developed at Univ 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.

Berkeley releases 4.2BSD incorporating TCP/IP, with much of the programming done by Bill Joy

dot 1984

Domain Name System (DNS) introduced.

Number of hosts breaks 1,000

Moderated newsgroups introduced on USENET (mod.*)

George Orwell's prophesy of the universal loss of individual rights doesn't come true.

dot 1985

Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL), operated by Stewart Brand on his houseboat, is open for calls.

On march 15th, is assigned the first registered domain. Other firsts:,,, (April); (June);, .uk (July)

100 years to the day of the last spike being driven on the cross-Canada railroad, the last Canadian university is connected to NetNorth in a one year effort to have coast-to-coast connectivity.

dot 1986

NSFNET created (backbone speed of 56Kbps)
NSF establishes 5 super-computing centers to provide high-computing power for all (JVNC@Princeton, PSC@Pittsburgh, SDSC@UCSD, NCSA@UIUC, Theory Center@Cornell). This allows an explosion of connections, especially from universities.


Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) comes into existence under the IAB. First IETF meeting held in January at Linkabit in San Diego

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

Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) designed to enhance Usenet news performance over TCP/IP.

dot 1987

Number of hosts breaks 10,000

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

dot 1988

2 November - Internet worm burrows through the Net, affecting ~6,000 of the 60,000 hosts on the Internet

CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) formed by DARPA in response to the needs exhibited during the Morris worm incident. The worm is the only advisory issued this year.

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

NSFNET backbone upgraded to T1 (1.544Mbps)

CERFnet (California Education and Research Federation network) founded by Susan Estrada, named after Vint Cerf

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed by Jarkko Oikarinen

FidoNet gets connected to the Net, enabling the exchange of e-mail and news

dot 1989

Number of hosts breaks 100,000

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 Univ.

First Interop conference in San Jose, CA, created to promote the use of TCP/IP packet-switched networking

Countries connecting to NSFNET: Australia (AU), Germany (DE), Israel (IL), Italy (IT), Japan (JP), Mexico (MX),Netherlands (NL), New Zealand (NZ), Puerto Rico (PR), United Kingdom (UK)

Source: Hobbes' Internet Timeline

The 1990'sarrow

Nerds Home
Networking the Nerds | Serving the Suits | Wiring the World
Cast of Characters | Glossary of Geek | Timeline

Copyright © 1998, PBS Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Site Designed and Developed by OPB Learning Media

OPB online PBS online Internet Quiz Glossary of Geek Nerds Home Page The 1990's The 1970's