The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Believe it or not, it’s been around in the form that we now take for granted since the mid-1980s, and more primitive versions existed for two decades before that. All of which is to say, its evolution, and its ups and downs, are full of some fascinating details, detours, and events. Check out this list of the 20 most important moments in internet history.
1. ARPANET Goes Online (1969)
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was a precursor to the internet that allowed computers across the country to interact with each other and share information on a single network via telephone lines. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense early on, according to History, and was mainly intended for communication within government agencies and universities. On October 29, 1969, the first ARPANET message was sent from a computer at UCLA to one located at Stanford University—well, part of a message, anyway. The computer at UCLA managed to get an “L” and an “O” to Stanford before a bug crashed the network—in a more perfect world, the first message from ARPANET would have been “LOGIN.” Though comparatively simple compared to today’s tech, ARPANET served a purpose until 1990, when it was officially decommissioned.
2. The First “.com” Debuts (1985)
On March 15, 1985, the first .com domain name was registered to a computer company out of Massachusetts named Symbolics. As Venture Beat points out, Symbolics.com planted its flag in the ground a year before HP and IBM and two years before Apple decided to take the .com plunge for themselves. Today, there are well over 150 million .coms registered online. Symbolics went out of business in 1993, but its historic domain has since been purchased and now acts as a quaint online museum dedicated to the history of the internet.
3. The World Wide Web Goes Live (1991)
First proposed by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 to find a better way for scientists to share data, the World Wide Web is a collection of web pages that are accessible through the network of computers called the internet (World Wide Web and internet aren’t interchangeable terms). To achieve it, Berners-Lee wrote three technologies—URL, HTML, and HTTP—that would help create a user-friendly interface for the internet that allowed it to enter everyday use within two or three years. In 1991, Berners-Lee published the first-ever webpage, which was basically just filled with instructions on how to actually use the World Wide Web. You can still view it here.
4. The First Webcam Is Put to Use (1991)
In 1991, when a group of researchers working in the computer lab at the University of Cambridge wanted a hands-off way to keep track of whether or not the community coffeepot was full, they rigged up a camera to monitor it for them. The rudimentary webcam—along with some programming wizardry—would take three live images of the