Computer Networking History

The field of computer networking and today’s Internet trace their beginnings back to the early 1960s, a time at which the telephone network was the world’s dominant communication network. The global Internet’s origin was the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) of the U.S. Department of Defense in 1969.

Since then, networking has advanced in leaps and bounds and it seems like every week there is some new technology that being released to make things faster and allow you to do more with your computers and other devices. Without networking we would not be able to do many of the things we take for granted such as pay for dinner with your ATM card, send emails, shop online or even talk on the phone.

Here are some of the highlights of the progression of computer networking within the last 35 years.

1974 – Ethernet is demonstrated by networking Xerox PARC’s new Alto computers.

1978 – The appearance of the first very small computers and their potential for communication via modem to dial up services.

1981 – Bill Joy incorporates the new TCP/IP suite into the next release of the UNIX operating system. The first “portable” computer is launched in the form of the Osborne, a 24 pound suitcase sized device.

1981 – The IBM PC is launched

1982 – TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol) is established as the standard for ARPANET.

1983 – ARPANET standardizes on the TCP/IP protocols adopted by the Department of Defense.

1986 – TCP/IP is available on workstations and PCs such as the newly introduced Compaq portable computer.

1987 – The number of network hosts breaks 10,000.

1989 – The number of hosts breaks 100,000.

1990 – ARPANET formally shuts down. Several search tools, such as ARCHIE, Gopher, and WAIS start to appear.

1991 – The NSFNET backbone upgrades to T3 (44 Mbps). A wide-area network developed under the auspices of the National Science Foundation. NSFnet replaced ARPANET as the main government network linking universities and research facilities.

1991– Tim Berners-Lee develops the World Wide Web. Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees its continued development. CERN also releases the first Web server.

1992 – The WWW bursts into the world and the growth of the Internet explodes.

1996 – The 56k modem is invented.

1999 – IEEE 802.11b short range radio networking standard is rebranded Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

2001 – Home broadband internet becomes mainstream and outnumbers dial up connections.

2004 – “Web 2.0” is branded.

2010 – 100 GB Ethernet becomes standardized.

2014 – The new Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac is released offering faster speeds of 2GB and up

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