VOLUME 30, NUMBER 20 THURSDAY, February 11, 1999

NetPast: Internet History

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How did the Internet originate? In what ways has it evolved from a U.S. defense-based closed system into an enormous, ever-expanding global entity? How has its structure been governed and by whom? Some information on the genesis and growth of the Net has been made accessible by the Internet Society via its page of Internet history links http://www.isoc.org/internet-history/.

Several of the pioneers in conceiving and designing the Internet, including Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf and David D. Clark, have collectively authored A Brief History of the Internet http://www.isoc.org/internet-history/brief.html. Although the discussion leans heavily on technical information, this essay outlines some of the groundbreaking conceptual ideas put forth in the late 1960s and 1970s.

For a more concise picture of the Internet's past, Hobbes' Internet Timeline http://www.isoc.org/guest/zakon/Internet/History/HIT.html presents a capsulated chronology of key events from 1957 to 1998. Prominent at this site are enlightening graphs and charts plotting the staggering growth of Internet hosts, networks and domains from 1969 to the present.

The site also links to NetHistory http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2260/, a very readable view of the Internet during the pre-World Wide Web era, when BITNET served as the reigning network. Browsing through this site's archives of early network publications and the personal essays by BITNET gurus can provide a snapshot of the years of text-only Internet, which is difficult to imagine today.

Tim Berners-Lee, one of the creators of the World Wide Web, has contributed his history of the Web (in question-and-answer form) in The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/FAQ.html. Similarly, USENET HISTORY http://www.vrx.net/usenet/history/ discusses the tremendous expansion of the hierarchically structured newsgroups.

Finally, an entertaining and eye-catching approach to Internet history is Gregory R. Gromov's History of Internet and WWW: The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History http://www.internetvalley.com/intval.html. This site is worth visiting, as much for its unorthodox approach using dazzling visuals and hypertext style as its content.

For assistance in connecting to the World Wide Web, contact the CIT Help Desk at 645-3542.

ĞDeborah Husted Koshinsky and Rick McRae, University Libraries

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