The Beginner’s Guide To The History Of The Internet

Have you ever wondered who actually invented the internet? I don’t think I know anyone anymore who doesn’t use it (even my Mom does, and so does my Grandma, so the numbers of non-users are seriously dwindling), and most people don’t give a whole lot of thought to who thought up this awesome information superhighway (bet you haven’t heard that term in awhile!).

Well, to start with, it wasn’t Al Gore. The handy video below takes a look at the history of the web – albeit fairly short and sweet. Who should get the credit? Is it a British geek in an underground Swiss lab? Clever Americans trying to help information survive a nuclear war? French Scientists? A big group of scientists who together brought us unlimited amounts of Cats and Wikipedia and Porn and YouTube and Business and Science? Maybe. Take a gander at the video below (its about 6 minutes long, so it won’t take up your whole evening and completely thwart your productivity like many of the shiny things on the procrastinator machine internet. It is funny, too, for those of you who spent too much time being serious today. Enjoy!

The History Of The Web In 6 Minutes

A few highlights…

  • The internet: a whole bunch of connected computers
  • The world wide web: a way of making it easier to share information using all of those aforementioned interconnected computers
  • The internet as we know it today was at least 40 years in the making
  • The first ‘internet’ wasn’t about sharing information, but more about optimizing processor usage. Computers were  linked together so that multiple items could be processed at one time, instead of one at a time
  • Then, scientists began attacking the task of how to make communications between interconnected computers easier, and lots of different networks popped up
  • Getting these different types of networks to be able to talk to one another was the next challenge, addressed by TCP IP, which labels packets of data and ensures that they get put back together at the end regardless of what route they take to get there
  • Networks really began talking to one another in 1975
  • E-mail was developed for Arpanet (basically, the progenitor of the internet we know now) around 1972
  • By 1976, most internet traffic was e-mail
  • A Brit named Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first web client server in 1990 using URL, HTML, and HTTP. His goal? To help ensure progress was being made among a large group of scientists at CERN who were trying to figure out what the universe is made from
  • Around 1995 was when the internet became readily usable for the masses
  • So what did Al Gore do? He pushed legislation that enabled more widespread use of the internet
  • You could reasonably say that ‘communication’ quite generally was the goal of the internet


  1. Josain

    April 21, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Nostalgic fun. I was a network engineer with a defense contractor in the early 80s when they decided to test the idea of redundant connectivity between disparate computer systems in the ARPAnet. I was blown away to request and receive data from a european university in less than a half second.
    Being a command line purist & network admin, I was initially against WWW carrying unnecessary imagery & sounds, but quickly succumbed to searching for the New Web Sites online each day, until it became overwhelming.

  2. Ernie Cordell

    May 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

    I dislike the opening of this: RFC #1 was written in 1970, so maybe your Mom or your Grandma invented the Internet — I mention this because I tire of the notion that the older generation is not tech savvy when we were the ones who invented what others so graciously claim.

    I see a lot of dates thrown around, but it’s seldom by people who got in on the ground floor. I personally applied for jobs in 1991 via a CompuServe feed at NASA JSC. My buddy at MACDAC dialed up to his personal account from his home in Clear Lake.

    I often see “The Internet” referred to as “connected computers,” but what really made IP significant was connecting all the pre-existing networks, before independent computers were connected to anything. I say this because a lot of this existed before very many people were aware of it — and before a lot of current users were even born.

    Maybe there’s a lot of uncertainty about the origins of The ‘Net because so few people who use it were born during the interval of its emergence.