Detailed History of the Internet, World Wide Web and Search Engines

Brief History of the Internet

The Internet grew out of an effort by government laboratories, the military and educational institutions desire to share computing resources. According to LaQuey “the Internet had humble-but exciting beginnings as one network called the Arpanet, the ‘Mother of the Internet’”. The Arpanet began as a U.S. government experiment in packet-switched networking in 1969. ARPA was the Advanced Research Projects Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. ARPANET initially linked researchers with remote computer centers and allowed the sharing of hardware and software resources. The original ARPANET split into two networks in the 1980’s, ARPANET and Milnet. Communication links allowed the two networks to communicate and this arrangement was called the ARPANET Internet, which was later shortened to just “The Internet”. Access was originally restricted to military, defense contractors, and universities doing defense research. UUCP, a worldwide UNIX communications network between universities and commercial organizations came into being.

Other networks in the early 1980’s were CSNET and BITNET provided nationwide networking between research and academic organizations. These networks were ultimately connected to the Internet by special connections to allow exchange of information among the computer communities. In 1986 the National Science Foundation established NSFNET linking researchers across the country with 5 supercomputers. ARPANET was dismantled in March 1990 as the NSFNET was now providing the same functions for most of the research community. CSNET ceased in 1991 for similar reasons. In 1989 Software Tool and Die in Brookline, MA became the first ISP (Internet Service Provider) to offer dial up commercial access to the Internet. (Internet Service Provider) As a brother of a principle in this venture I was, unknowingly, provided a front row seat to the early days of the Internet’s development.

Brief History of the World Wide Web

The early years of the Internet were purely text based. This began to change in 1991 when Tim Berners Lee wrote a program called “WorldWideWeb” and established the first HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) and HTTP (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol) based servers and documents did this begin to change. Quickly browsers were developed to enable users to access web pages and click HTML links that would take them to locations on the same page, on other pages on the same server or to pages on servers anywhere in the world. This established the world of the Internet as we know it today, a vast and seemingly infinite ecosystem of web sites and web pages with information, entertainment and pretty much anything reflective of the human condition.

Brief History of Search Engines

Web sites rapidly became a means for any organization to communicate their messages to the millions of users of the Internet. As the Internet exploded exponentially the need to find specific content on the Internet spawned the invention of Search Engines. Early providers vied for users with different indexing schemes and algorithms to quickly take queries and deliver relevant sites and pages to the user making the query via their Internet browser. Starting in the early 1990’s with excite (a Stanford student project), Yahoo!, Webcrawler, Lycos and Altavista several different models for indexing and building directories to resources on the web were made available to the public. In 1997 another Stanford project brought Google, a search engine which relied on the number and quality of links to and from a site along with the relevant words found on the site’s pages. MSN search was launched in 1998 and is now known as Bing. (Short history of early search engines) The modern search engine drives modern digital marketing practices.


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