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
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
- 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 -
History of the Internet and Related Networks
Technical evolution of the Internet and related networks.
the Internet Came to Be
Vinton Cerf, considered 'Father of the Internet' tells of the beginning
years and the work involved.
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 -
Timeline of the Internet, beginning in the 1950's and continuing through
Where Wizards Stay Up
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 -
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 -
Lynch's Timeline of Net Related Terms and Concepts
Timeline of Internet terms, concepts, stories, and people, showing first
mentions in his electronic archives.
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.
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.
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.
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
http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/netbook/ also http://telecom-digest.org/archives/history
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
1995 tutorial provides introductory information and links regarding Web
publishing, from the early days of the Web -
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 -
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 from 1986 to the present day -
The Innovation Network
Web site providing online access to the Smithsonian Permanent Research
Collection on Information Technology -
Web site and archive of Community Memory, a discussion list on the history
of cyberspace sponsored by Computer Professionals For Social Responsibility
Most people know little or nothing about where Usenet came from or how
it got where it currently is.
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
A Little History of
the World Wide Web
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 w3.org -
of the Internet
Brief history of origins and development of the Internet by a group of
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 -
of the Internet
Dave Kristula's very interesting account of early days on the Net.
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
Jon Postel, Who Was He?
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 - http://www.iana.org/postel/index.html (and) ftp://ftp.isi.edu/in-notes
Eight Bits Equal
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
of the Internet and Web
An interesting presentation by Anthony Anderberg tracing the events of
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 -
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.
http://www.internetvalley.com/intval.html (also) http://www.mclink.it/personal/MD1451/intval.htm
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: 'massis.lcs.mit.edu' is this writer's 'homesite', where I work
on an e-journal for the net and maintain a small Web site for it.)
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.
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.
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
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