Pioneers of the Internet

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Looking Ahead


Vannevar Bush (Science Advisor to Pres. Roosevelt during WWII) proposes MEMEX, a machine to store vast amounts of information.

IBM develops the first hard disk: it was as big as two refrigerators and held 5MB of data.

Sputnik I launched by USSR.

Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) formed in the Department of Defense.

Time-sharing, the concept of linking many users to a single computer by remote terminals, is developed in the late 1950s and early ’60s at MIT.

Leonard Kleinrock publishes first paper on packet switching networks.

Paul Baran of RAND develops the idea of distributed, packet-switching networks.

Computers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab and System Development Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif., are directly linked in the first Wide Area Network. ARPA sponsors study on “cooperative network of time-sharing computers.”

Bob Taylor at ARPA receives funding for a networking experiment to tie together computers at a number of universities.

Wes Clark comes up with the idea of using dedicated hardware to perform network functions; the devices are eventually called Interface Message Processors (IMPs).

ARPA mails 140 Requests for Proposals to prospective contractors to build the first four IMPs. Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) wins the contract to create ARPANET. They have $1 million and less than a year to turn the theory into a working system.

BBN installs the first ARPANET IMP nodes at UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UC Santa Barbara, and U of Utah using Honeywell 516 mini-computers with 12K of memory.

ARPANET hosts start using Network Control Protocol (NCP).
ARPANET has 15 nodes (23 hosts). File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is established.

Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) is established.

BBN’s Ray Tomlinson ’63 “invents” e-mail; it quickly becomes the network’s most popular application.

Bob Metcalfe outlines the idea for Ethernet in his Harvard Ph.D. thesis. He and David Boggs later create the first Ethernet network between computers named Michelson and Morley (19th c. scientists who proved ether didn’t exist) at Xerox PARC.

Xerox/Alto computer is built. (Some argue it was the first personal computer, although it was never offered for sale.) It had the first graphical user interface (GUI), used a mouse, and was linked to other PCs by Ethernet.

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn establish Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). They use the term Internet for the first time.

The Altair 8800, generally recognized as the first PC, is invented by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC. (It is actually a kit you have to build yourself.)
Microsoft is founded.

The Apple II computer goes on the market.

Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker, and Danny Cohen create a plan to separate the routing functions of TCP into a separate protocol called Internet Protocol (IP).

IBM releases its IBM PC, retailing for $4,500.
Paul Severino ’69 founds InterLan, the first company to provide Ethernet adaptor products.

TCP/IP are established as the standard protocol suite for ARPANET.
The first PC LAN is demonstrated at the National Computer Conference.

The entire ARPANET switches from NCP to IP. Time magazine names its 1982 Man of the Year: the personal computer. ARPANET is split into military and civilian sections: the Internet is “born.”

Berkeley releases Unix 4.2BSD. It includes TCP/IP.
Internet hosts breaks 500. [Source for Internet host figures: Hobbes’ Internet Timeline]

The Macintosh computer, the first affordable personal computer with a genuine graphical user interface, is launched.

# Internet hosts breaks 1,000.

NSF funds its national supercomputing initiative.

Richard Mandelbaum ’65 co-founds NYSERNet, the first nongovernment ISP.

Martin Schoffstall ’82 creates SNMP (with 3 colleagues).

Severino sells Interlan to Micom Systems for $64 million.

NSFNet is created to connect the supercomputing sites with a backbone speed of 56Kbps.

NSF-funded regional networks, including NYSERNet, SDSCNET, JVNCNET, and SURANET, become operational.

Severino founds Wellfleet Communications, named fastest-growing company in 1992 and ’93.

# Internet hosts breaks 5,000.

# Internet hosts breaks 10,000.

Kwabena Akufo ‘80 co-founds SigmaNetwork Systems.

John Russo ’78 starts GeoNet as sole proprietorship; adds e-mail & Internet services in about two years.

Jim Pelkey ’68 interviews Internet and computing pioneers.

First gateways between commercial electronic mail carriers and the Internet are established: Compuserv through Ohio State University and MCI through the Corporation for the National Research Initiative.

Schoffstall co-founds PSINet, the first commercial spin-off from NYSERNet.

# Internet hosts breaks 100,000.

ARPANET ceases to exist.

WWW software created by Tim Berners-Lee; designed to display text only.

NSF lifts restrictions on the commercial use of the NSFNet backbone.

# Internet hosts breaks 600,000.

Akufo sells Sigma Network Systems to SMC.

# Internet hosts breaks 1,000,000.

Russo incorporates GeoNet.

United Nations and White House go online.

Mosaic, a friendlier graphical interface for browsing the WWW, is released.

# Internet hosts breaks 2,000,000.

Annual growth rate of the Web is 341,634%.

# Internet hosts breaks 3,000,000 (July).

Mukesh Chatter ’82 co-founds NeoRAM; manufacturing is added later and the company becomes Nexabit Networks.

Severino’s Wellfleet merges with Synoptics and becomes Bay Networks.

NSF stops funding the NSFNet backbone; Internet backbone traffic begins routing through commercial providers.

# Internet hosts breaks 8,000,000 (July).

Traditional online dial-up systems (Compuserve, America Online, Prodigy) begin to provide Internet access.

# Internet hosts breaks 14,000,000 (January).

Richard Mandelbaum ’65 founds AppliedTheory, a spin-off from NYSERNet.

Chatter co-founds Nexabit Networks.

Akufo co-founds NetCore Systems.

# Internet hosts breaks 21,000,000 (January).

Netscape releases the source code for its Netscape Navigator browser to the public domain.

Microsoft releases Windows 98; the company is sued by the U.S. Justice Department and 19 states for violating the Sherman Act.

Russo sells GeoNet to Level 3 Communications (Jim Crowe ’72).

Bay Networks acquired by Nortel Networks for approx. $9 billion (Severino had resigned as chair of Bay Networks in 1996).

# Internet hosts breaks 36,000,000 (July).

Mandelbaum’s AppliedTheory goes public.

Chatter’s Nexabit purchased by Lucent for approximately $896 million.

Akufo’s NetCore purchased by Tellabs for approximately $575 million.

More than 100 million Americans are on the Internet; 96% of them use it for e-mail. [Source: Jupiter Communications]


Tomlinson wins the 2000 George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award.

Chatter co-founds Axiowave Networks.

Microsoft loses its antitrust battle in U.S. District Court and is ordered to divide itself into two separate companies, an operatmg systems company that would own the Windows operating system and an applications company that would own the Internet Explorer and other applications. The firm appeals the decision

The WWW includes more than 1 billion unique, indexable pages. [Source: Inktomi Corp.]


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