Links To The Past

This part of our site is intended as a place where you may find links to both historic documents on the Internet as well as sites on the net which specialize in net history. The list which follows is by no means the complete collection of things available; it is simply those places and things of which we are familiar. The list below will change from time to time as new resources become available or known to us. With that in mind, won't you please share what you know with us, so that it can be placed here for everyone's benefit. And thank you very much for checking out these resources; we wish that every Netizen had an interest in our past, since surely understanding our past will help us build a better future.

Please send notice of incorrect (dead) links to our attention as well as information on sites to be added.

Was it Sir Isaac Newton who once commented, "If it appears I have seen much further than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants ... " As you examine these links -- which do not even begin to cover a small part of the rich history of the 'net -- think of the giants who have brought us this far.

A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future. Robert A. Heinlein

Net Wars - an Online Book
I couldn't resist saving the best for first! Wendy Grossman only arrived on the net about 1993, but she has done an excellent job in describing it to newcomers in her 1997 book Net Wars which has been placed in its entireity on line for your reading pleasure. She tells it like is in several lengthy chapters. Read it all for free here -   

Brief History of the Internet and Related Networks
Technical evolution of the Internet and related networks.    

How the Internet Came to Be
Vinton Cerf, considered 'Father of the Internet' tells of the beginning years and the work involved.    

Emerging Technologies Research Group: Internet Timeline
Tool for explaining the history of the Net and examining probable future scenarios. From Find/SVP.    

The Internet Archives
An attempt has been going on since 1996 to try and capture everything -- every single page at every single site -- into a permanent archives of our virtual community. Around the clock, a 'Web crawler' just keeps processing it all, terabyte after terabyte. Is it worth the effort and will anyone ever review it all? Read about it here -   

Hobbes' Internet Timeline
Timeline of the Internet, beginning in the 1950's and continuing through present-day.    

Where Wizards Stay Up Late
Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon wrote this interesting book on the early history of Arpanet. Many, many were the late night sessions in those days, 'debugging' code, and tossing about ideas for the net-to-be. You may stay up late reading it, also -    

Internet Society
International organization that supports Internet growth. Develops and maintains Internet Standards.    

PLATO - The Emergence of Online Community
At the University of Illinois in the 1960's, things were happening which gave a glimpse toward the future. A marvelous computer service known as PLATO, intended for online learning, was being developed. Its history in the 1960-80's is outlined here -    

Into the Matrix
David Bennahum's Web site for the electronic newsletter called Meme, and the Community Memory: Discussion List on the History of Cyberspace, as well as articles, interviews -    

Keith Lynch's Timeline of Net Related Terms and Concepts
Timeline of Internet terms, concepts, stories, and people, showing first mentions in his electronic archives.    

Chris Condon's NetHistory
An informal history of BITNET and the Internet, with numerous links to archival copies of mailing lists and e-zines from the 1980's, maintained by Chris Condon.    

The Birth of the BBS While ARPA, Usenet and the Internet were taking shape, another form of computer networking was being born also. Small, 'single-server' Bulletin Board Systems -- known as BBS -- were popping up around the USA. The first half-dozen or so were in Chicago. *The* very first, in 1978, was operated by Randy Suess and Ward Christianson. Here is their story, as written in 1989.   

Other Early BBS Operations While Ward and Randy were first, they were not alone for very long. During 1978-79, others improved on their product; by 1980 every maker of the personal computer had BBS software available, including Apple, Tandy and others. Every town in the USA it seems had at least one BBS. Please help by adding to these notes if you operated a BBS also.   

Netizens Notebook
Web site for Michael and Ronda Hauben's online Netbook entitled 'Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet.' Written in 1995, this online book presents the history and impact of various aspects of the Net. The TELECOM Digest Editor says it is a 'must read' for persons wanting to learn our history. Some excerpts from the book are given here for individual purusal; these for the most part appear in the finished book, but have been selected here to provide a 'sampler' of the entire thing. Excerpts include: 25th Anniversary of Unix, Early Days of Usenet, Early History of Unix, and Pioneering Vision Behind the Net also    

Inventing the Internet
Another book you might want to read, being published in June, 1999 by MIT Press, written by Janet Abbate a professor of the History of Technology at the University of Maryland.    

Some *VERY* Old Usenet Messages from 1980-81
This is the way it looked twenty years ago, when the Unix User's Network -- i.e. Usenet -- was first beginning. Thanks to Andrew Tannenbaum for telling us about these. Check out these ancient mailing lists and newsgroups.    

WPI Hackers of the 1970's
Another fine contribution by Andrew Tannenbaum which looks at the way things used to be a quarter-century ago -    

Putting Information on the Web
1995 tutorial provides introductory information and links regarding Web publishing, from the early days of the Web -    

The Internet in Transition
During the early 1990's, the old 'backbone' routing began to be phased out as newer high-capacity, high speed switches and routers were installed to handle the increasing amount of network traffic. Although rough at times, the transition was smoother than expected. This report from TELECOM Digest on March 31, 1995 provides history on early switching/routing on the net and describes what the next year was expected to be like -  

Short History of the Internet by Bruce Sterling
Brief history of the Net, from its beginnings with the Rand Corporation and ARPANET through today.    

The History of LISTSERV
The history of LISTSERV from 1986 to the present day -    

The Innovation Network
Web site providing online access to the Smithsonian Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology -    

The Matrix: Community Memory
Web site and archive of Community Memory, a discussion list on the history of cyberspace sponsored by Computer Professionals For Social Responsibility -    

Usenet History
Most people know little or nothing about where Usenet came from or how it got where it currently is.    

UNIX Public Access Sites - March, 1993
Until about 1987, access to the Internet and Usenet was pretty much limited to the relatively few people who were involved in EDUcational, MILitary or GOVernment organizations and institutions. Access to the general public started about that time via 'public access Unix sites', and listings of the same were published regularly on the 'net to let people know where and how to sign up for personal accounts. By about 1995, the number of privately owned ISPs (Internet Service Providers) had grown to a large number; even so, less than a third of the total number of same on record in 1999.    

A Little History of the World Wide Web
Brief, chronological history of the Web from 1980 through 1995. Who would have thought even ten years ago that the 'Web' would change the world as it has. Tim Berners-Lee's project from the early 90's was probably the biggest single event in net history; nothing has changed the net quite in the way the 'World Wide Web' has changed it. When we look at the net today, as we step into century 21, these old messages seem rather quaint. Even in 1995, who could have foretold what the next five years would bring. Tim BL photo courtesy of CERN and -    

Brief History of the Internet
Brief history of origins and development of the Internet by a group of distinguished authors.    

Internet Background and Basics
Annotated collection of unusual and interesting links to little-known background information about the Internet -    

Internet Daily News
Customizable Internet news organized as a collection of articles by topic. No longer published. Of archival interest -    

History of the Internet
Dave Kristula's very interesting account of early days on the Net.    

Internet History and Computer Terms
Another good collection of links relating to our history and a glossary of terms. Also, see the home page of the late Jon Postel, truely an Internet 'god'.    

Speaking of Jon Postel, Who Was He?
No three-line description here will do him justice at all. An Internet 'god' who passed away at the untimely age of 55, Mr. Postel had several important duties around the 'net. One duty was maintaining the RFC files. I hear your question already: What is an RFC?

A (R)equest (F)or (C)omments is the way that Internet 'standards' begin to take shape. Although RFC 2 and a few others are lost, review them from number 1 in April, 1969 through thousands later -- the current ones -- in the summer, 1999; thirty years later. Watch the Internet get built! Postel had a large part in that, a role that won't easily be filled. Read what his friends say. Postel photo courtesy of Christian Science Monitor - (and)

Eight Bits Equal A Bite
A fascinating collection of many links of interest regarding internet history, plus still a few more details of how we got to where we are -    

History of the Internet and Web
An interesting presentation by Anthony Anderberg tracing the events of our past.    

The Internet Public Library
Public libraries are good places to begin searching for information on almost any topic. Ours is no exception. By no means just an historical site, IPL has thousands of books available online through cooperating publishers, including things about our history. Check it out -    

Roads and Crossroads of Internet History
This is one of the best, if not the best. Gregory R. Gromov presents a really good Web site full of materials you should review. Another site maintained by Mr. Gromov is located here with still more things to review. (also)    

One of the Places Where it Began
There were many, many places in the 1960-70's where research was being done on the thing we now call the 'internet'. One such place was the Laboratory for Computer Science, at MIT. Just concluding its 35th anniversary, this is a good time to look at where things are going in the future. (Note: '' is this writer's 'homesite', where I work on an e-journal for the net and maintain a small Web site for it.)    

The Network Map for September, 1987
While looking around a place like LCS/MIT, one is bound to find a few 'goodies' stashed away, and staff member Garrett Wollman tipped us off to this 1987 map of the Internet prepared annually by Bede McCall.    

Father Knows Best
Although Vint Cerf discourages the title 'father of the internet', it is really the way most long time netters think of him. In this interview, he talks about where we have been, and where we are going. Do the ideas of interplanetary connections to the internet and toasters connected to the internet sound intriguing? In addition, listen to a two-part audio interview with Mr. Cerf. Running time: 17 minutes. If you thought our first thirty years has been pretty wild, think about the next thirty and try to imagine it as Mr. Cerf describes it. also insiders/cerf    

Informing Ourselves to Death
Despite our glorious past, have computers been a giant leap forward for mankind and our civilization, or have we deluded ourselves into thinking that all is well? Neil Postman, in a 1990 address to the German Informatics Society offers a provocative rebuttal to those who praise our information super-highway.    

What else? We need your links also; the ones above are just a very small part of the story.
What's missing? You are: the role you played in the 1970-80's Internet.