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Internet History Timeline: 1985 - 2004

The Internet is a constantly changing and growing phenomenon. Below is a brief timeline of some of the major events in the past 20 years of Internet development. While the amount of development is continually increasing, these are just a few occurrences that had a direct impact on the Internet as we know it today.

The Past Twenty Years of the Internet

1985: The National Science Foundation (NSF) takes over administration of the network from ARPA. NSF links its 6 SuperComputer Centers and establishes Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) limiting use of NSFnet to research and education only. The number of hosts connecting has almost reached 2,000. A hose is a computer system with registered ip address.

1986: While the number of hosts surpasses 5,000, the NSF establishes a 3-tiered NSFNET comprised of a network backbone, mid-level network, and campus network.

1987: The number of hosts is reaching close to 30,000 and NSF contracts with MERIT (collaborates with IBM and MCI) to upgrade NSFNET.

1988: In July of 1988 NSF completes transition to T1 backbone and the phase-out of ARPANET begins. T1 is a digital transmission link with a capacity of 1.544 Mbps, much greater than previous transmission capabilities.

1990: In June ARPANET is officially dissolved and the World Wide Web (WWW) is being developed at CERN in Geneva. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, now known as the world's largest particle physics center.

1990: The number of hosts has surpassed 300,000.

1991: Sun forms the "Green Team", made up of developers for Java, to explore consumer devices. According to Sun “the secret "Green Team," fully staffed at 13 people, was chartered by Sun to anticipate and plan for the "next wave" in computing. Their initial conclusion was that at least one significant trend would be the convergence of digitally controlled consumer devices and computers. “

1992: The number of hosts is over one million as NSF completes transition to T3 backbone. T3 is a term for a digital carrier facility used to transmit a digital signal at 44.746 megabits per second, a huge increase from the previous T1 connection at 1.544 Mbps.

1993: The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA)NCSA releases NCSA Mosaic for X. According to NCSA Mosaic is an Internet information browser and World Wide Web client. NCSA has developed the first web browser.

1993: Web servers are gaining popularity, with about 200 web servers in the Internet by 1993.

1994: In April of 1994 World Wide Web traffic overtook that of Gopher. A Gopher server presents its contents as a hierarchically structured list of files. Web sites were more easily accessible and thus more popular.

1995: The Internet becomes completely privatized after NSFnet shuts down and the World Wide Web becomes networks largest byte and packet mover. In May Netscape announces integration of Java into Navigator Web client.

1996: Search engines, JAVA, Internet Phone are all heavily research and developed and software development, mainly due to the browser war between Microsoft and Netscape, is accelerating with Beta testing and quarterly software resleases.

1996: The NSF "recompetes" federal supercomputer centers and forms 155 Mbps "very high-speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS)”. Web traffic becomes over half of all network traffic.

1997: Domain names are becoming a commodity, a good example being domain name which sold for US$150,000.

1998: The US Department of commerce announces plans to privatize DNS and open source software comes of age.

1999: E-Trade, Online Banking, and MP3 technology are heavily promoted and further developed.

2000: Web size estimates by NEC-RI and Inktomi surpass 1 billion indexable pages and Internet2 backbone network deploys IPv6. According to the Ipv6 information page, “IPv6 fixes a number of problems in IPv4, such as the limited number of available IPv4 addresses. It also adds many improvements to IPv4 in areas such as routing and network autoconfiguration. IPv6 is expected to gradually replace IPv4, with the two coexisting for a number of years during a transition period.”

2001: Digital media copyright issues come to a head as Napster keeps finding itself embroiled in litigation and is eventually forced to suspend service while the first uncompressed real-time gigabit HDTV transmission across a wide-area IP network takes place on Internet2.

2003: US ISP Association (USISPA) is created from the former CIX with a claim of “representing the common policy and legal interests of Internet Service Providers.”

2003: Blogs and online diaries are increasing in popularity.

2004: The SQL Slammer worm causes one of the largest and fastest spreading Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks ever. It took only about 10 minutes to spread worldwide and disabled 5 of the 13 DNS root servers along with tens of thousands of other servers. The worm impacted systems such as ATM systems to air traffic control to emergency systems. Later that year the Sobig.F virus was the fastest spreading virus ever, and the Blaster (MSBlast) worm was another one of the most destructive worms ever.

2004: The number of hosts is about 200 million and there are over 46 million web servers.


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