March 4, 2024

When was the Internet invented? Inside the creation of the website

From Nikola Tesla’s dreams of a “global wireless system” to Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web, delve into the surprisingly long history of when the Internet was invented.

When was the Internet invented?

University of California, Los AngelesA computer lab at UCLA, where the first Internet message was sent in 1969.

The Internet is ubiquitous today. We use it to answer questions, shop, play games, talk to people, watch movies, and get directions (and you’re using it right now to read this article). Having instant information at our fingertips has undoubtedly changed humanity, especially in recent decades. But when was the Internet invented?

Interestingly, the invention of the Internet was a long process. Brilliant innovators like Nikola Tesla began envisioning a “worldwide wireless system” in the early 20th century, mulling over a device that would allow people to communicate easily across great distances. And the Internet we know today would ultimately have many fathers.

This is the surprisingly complex story of when the Internet was invented, from the first ideas about connecting people to the involvement of the US military and the rise of the modern World Wide Web.

From Nikola Tesla to the Department of Defense

Nicholas TeslaNicholas Tesla

Wikimedia CommonsNikola Tesla is one of the first inventors who foresaw a technology like the Internet.

The Internet existed as an idea long before its invention at the end of the 20th century. In 1926, Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla mused about a technology that would allow people to “see and hear each other as perfectly as if we were face to face, despite distances of thousands of miles.” He also prophesied that the technology would fit into a device so small that “a man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”

As HISTORY As he points out, others also envisioned some kind of interconnection system in the decades that followed. They envisioned searchable databases of books and media and, eventually, some kind of computer-shared network. Then the United States Department of Defense intervened.

In the 1960s, the Department of Defense began using a relatively new technology called “packet switching” to transmit electronic data. Its Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) used packet switching to connect multiple computers on a single network.

When did the Internet start?When did the Internet start?

Library of CongressOne of the first panels of the Advanced Research Project Agencies Network (ARPANET).

On October 29, 1969, ARPANET was able to send its first message between a research laboratory at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. The message “LOG IN” blocked the network and the institute only received “LO”.

“Therefore, the first message on the Internet was ‘LO,’ as in ‘Behold!’” recalled Leonard Kleinrock, a UCLA computer science professor who led the team that sent the message. “We didn’t plan it, but we couldn’t have come up with a better message: concise, powerful and prophetic.”

But was this the invention of the Internet that is widely used today throughout the world? Not quite. There was still one big problem: the different networks that existed at the time spoke different “languages” when moving data and could not “talk” to each other while networking.

At least not yet.

Make computers talk to each other

Robert Kahn and Vint CerfRobert Kahn and Vint Cerf

UPI/Alamy Stock PhotoFormer U.S. President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vint Cerf, left, and Robert Kahn, right, who are often credited with inventing the Internet. 2005.

As The Guardian writes, early computer networks could not communicate with each other because they could not properly understand each other (and therefore could not share data). In the 1970s, two ARPANET researchers named Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf began working on a solution.

“[W]We had multiple networks… all of them packet switched, but with different characteristics,” Vint Cerf later explained in an interview with cabling. “Some were bigger, some went faster, some had packages that were lost, some didn’t. “So the question is how can you make all the computers on each of those networks think that they are part of a common network, despite all this variation and diversity.”

The two men created a language that networks could share, allowing computers to communicate with each other. Its Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, established a system for reliable data transfer, but was flexible enough to evolve.

“I had to be prepared for the future,” Cerf said. The Guardianbecause if the protocol were written only for a certain time, it would later become obsolete.

When was the Internet invented?

Tim Berners LeeTim Berners Lee

Pilgrim/Alamy Stock PhotoSome credit Tim Berners-Lee (as seen on this stamp), a British computer scientist who developed HTML and the World Wide Web, as the man who started the Internet.

So when did the Internet really start? While some credit Kahn and Cerf as the fathers of the Internet, the Internet we recognize today continued to develop after the ARPANET adopted TCP/IP as its communications model on January 1, 1983 (some cite this start date as the “birthday”). from Internet).

As HISTORY As he points out, the modern Internet arguably began about a decade later. A British computer scientist at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) named Tim Berners-Lee developed hypertext markup language (HTML) in the early 1990s. Shortly after, Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web was released to the world. public. And from there, things started to take off.

“Everyone wanted to be there,” said Don Nielson, a computer scientist who was in Silicon Valley when the Internet was invented. “That was absolutely amazing to me: the clamor of wanting to be present in this new world.”

Back in 1992, regular people first started talking about “surfing the web.”

In 1993, there were about 600 websites online. In 1994, Yahoo was launched, originally called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” and the website was quickly followed by sites we recognize today as Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay.

Almost three decades later, in 2021, some 4.66 billion people were connected to the Internet, that is, more than half of the world’s population. The Internet has become an everyday part of most people’s lives and is used for everything from shopping online to finding apartments and houses and even finding love.

So when was the Internet really invented? It’s a complicated question. Ideas about the Internet began to percolate in the early 20th century, and by the 1960s scientists were able to begin developing networks. Researchers in the 1970s and 1980s were able to take things a step further by helping networks communicate with each other, and the invention of HTML and the World Wide Web helped develop the Internet we know in recent years.

Like many technologies, the Internet had many fathers and pioneers. And given how quickly it has changed in recent decades, it may soon be completely unrecognizable even to its earliest users.


After reading about when the Internet was invented, learn the real stories behind other world-changing inventions, including the invention of the toilet and the invention of ice cream.

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