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An excellent summary of key milestones in Internet history

For anyone who has ever wondered how and why the Internet was created comes this extensive essay, "The Roads and Crossroads of Internet's History."   With this document, users can follow the development of the Net from its early stages as a military communication system to the multimedia extravaganza we know today.

Webcrawler: Internet User Guides Reviews *Hot* Web Sites

... excellent 9-part review of the Internet's history and its relationship with the information revolution . Very informative and quite amusing at times too!
Development Corporat.

History of Internet and WWW:
The Roads and Crossroads
of Internet  History

by Gregory R. Gromov
A comprehensive and fascinating overview of the philosophy and history of the Internet. Many related links and a section on pertinent statistics. Magellan Internet Guide

Tim,  Robert and Ted
Net History with a Human Face

            The Page 1 of the 9 pages' Story.

Road 1: USA to Europe

Information Age Milestones
1866:" In the beginning was the Cable..."

The Atlantic cable of 1858 was established to carry instantaneous communications across the ocean for the first time. Although the laying of this first cable was seen as a landmark event in society, it was a technical failure. It only remained in service a few days.


Subsequent cables laid in 1866 were completely successful and compare to events like the moon landing of a century later... the cable ... remained in use for almost 100 years.

Smithsonian's National Museum of American History


... A must for someone researching  the evolution of the Net.

Jason Parkhill
The Historian and the Internet
College of Wooster, Ohio

yoav - this silly Web site. ... I don't want to know anything about the internet. I just wanna use it to my advantage....

If you've ever wondered how the Internet came into being then be sure to check this site out...

If you've never wondered how the Internet came into being then go anyway. You shouldn't be such a barbarian.

Hitch a lift with us on the information superhighway
by LineOneUK to the best networking resources on the world's biggest bookshelf -- the World Wide Web. History of the Internet. We all need it. We all want it. But how did it happen in the first place? Gregory Gromov provides a ... brief (one page) and comprehensive (nine page) history of the Worldwide Web before it was the Net we all know and love...

By Matthew Holt, NetworkWorld
June, 1997

Virtual Seminar for Teaching Literature
Internet Teaching
I. Some Basic Concepts
The History of the Internet
It is clear that the Internet is one of the most fashionable areas of computing. It is effecting all subjects in Higher Education, not only altering teaching opportunities because of its new perspectives on communication and dissemination, but also opening up exciting new resources for students and lecturers alike. For a history of the Internet readers should consult Gregory Gromov's The Roads and Crossroads of the Internet's History.
Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University,

Oxford University
UK, 1996

Gregory R. Gromov's version is a fun to read and thoughtful look into the history of the Internet and the WWW.
The Maine Science and Technology Foundation
USM - Professional Development Center

Access the website designed by Gregory R. Gromov and published at ...
6. The primary document on the ‘View from Internet Valley" Homepage is "The Roads and Crossroads of  Internet’s History". Study all nine (9) pages linked to... as well as:
1. Road #1 "Information Age’s Milestones"
2. Road #2 "Internet at CERN: 1976 - 1990"
3. Road #3 "The 50 Years of the Hypertext Concept’s Evolution"
7. The team should write two or three questions regarding the history of the Internet... Write your questions based on Gromov’s website.

The Individual Learner Within American Culture, 
by Larry Garrett,
Social Foundations of American Education
Troy State University

This is an entertaining (if potentially  confusing) account of Net history, part of a large on-line hyperbook called View from Internet Valley, written by a California Internet consulting company called Internet Valley. You should only read this after you've become familiar with Net history, because if you start here you may well get confused. But if you know Net history, this site will provide some fascinating insights and connections between events and people. Estimated Surfing Time: at least two hours.
Open Learning Agency :
learning resources to support the K-12 education system in British Columbia, Canada,

Read through your history- wonderful!
Dionne Dames
25 Oct 1998 11:04:42 -0800

Hi, I don't mean to be mean, but your website is very hard to understand. Next time you make a website about the history of something, don't jump around as much! You confused the hell out of me.
SCU Computer Lab
Santa Clara University

28 Sep 1998 17:01:07 PDT

This site is a genuine pleasure to use! Thank you.
Don Hester
14 Sep 1998 22:59:13 -0700

This is one of the Great Classic Websites. It's a history of the Internet and what led up to it, told in hypertext, both eloquently and chaotically, as strange in its own way as the Mel Brooks movie, History of the World, Part One. But it's one [REDACTED} of a lot more accurate than the Brooks movie. All Internet users, even those of you who just signed up for Web-TV or AOL last week and are still fumbling around, should check out this site.

When you jump into this online story, make sure you have a couple of hours free. It takes that long to read. Imagine a collaborative writing  project that tells you more than you ever wanted to know (and more than probably thought there was to tell) about the Internet, starting with the laying of the first telegraph cable across the Atlantic in 1858 (which was NOT a success, BTW).

You'll learn why the WWW Consortium [W3C] is based at a physics lab in Switzerland called CERN, instead of at a computer research center where you'd logically expect it to be, and why CERN doesn't even stand for the lab's real name -- in either English or French, along with lots of other neat factoids that'll come in handy if you ever find yourself playing Trivial Pursuit: The Internet Edition.

There's also a picture of Al and Tipper Gore at their wedding, twenty years before the WWW came into existence. And I'm not going to tell you why it's there. You can find out for yourself. (And if you want to be a killjoy you can post the reason below ..
by  Robin Miller
Best High-Tech Sights on the Net! 26 Oct.1998

... No, I am not a "killjoy")
... This site is skitzo man. A box of rocks is better organized.
, I am old fashion and
read left to right instead of up, down, right, down, left, link, back, up, thread, 12pt, 18pt, 10pt.
How many feet was that first
trans-atlantic line

Yeah, that's all I remember ..

... I won't spoil the Al Gore allusion on this site ..., but I'm not convinced the  anectdote isn't spun by Democratic election  committee's

AAAAAAAAAAAARGH! A lot of interesting information, and I guess the designers are trying to look like an Internet scrapbook, but really... I'll come back with Lynx and read it in plain text :)
Reeves Hall

Read The Roads and Crossroads of Internet 's History, Gregory R. Gromov, et al. This is a hypertext of nine main pages with side links. It is written as a kind of mosaic rather than as a straight narrative, including email questions and answers, fragments of interviews, and the like. It focuses primarily on the Web and hypertext over the Internet. As well, it plays with typographical design and page layout in curious ways.

by  M. C. Morgan
College of Arts and Letters,
Department of English

Bemidji State University, MN

... I believe that your site has some useful information but, quite frankly, I'm not even going to read it. The indiscriminate use of font sizes, font types, colors, and spacing gives mean absolute headache.

Whatever 6  year-old designed your site obviously does not know much about design...

Pauline Sanchez
8 Oct 1998

I am looking for resources on the history of the internet. I will not include any of your reportings. It seems like a great piece of work, although I cannot trust the reliability of it. You've misspelled and mistyped an amazing number of words throughout.

Are you a 12 year old?

Zachary Guidry
1 Oct  1998

I am very interested in the history of the net, that's why I came to your site, but the way you put it together is really annoying. <B>Bold</B> and <I>Italics</I> every other word really gets on your nerves. It would be a lot easier to read if you didn't overuse these. If you love those tags so much, save them for when only you are looking at them, because to everyone else, they are just showing how stupid you are.

Thomas Ammon
24 Oct 1998 10:19:10 -0700 (PDT)

"Don't panic..."

What better starting point is there in trying to understand the internet and the World Wide Web than to use the internet to explore its history. There are several web sites covering this topic. Here is one for you to explore, The Roads and Crossroads of Internet 's History by Gregory R. Gromov. This does not necessarily mean it's the best one, but it is an excellent history of the internet and a good example of a "web document."

As you begin reading the document, you should soon discover that "reading" this web document is not like reading an article in a book or journal. Visually books and journals have pretty standard layouts and styles, though there is some variation. But one would be hard pressed to find any standard layout or style for web documents. You also should experience what "hypertext" is and why this experience is more like exploring than reading. But just like an exploration, it is up to you how extensively you explore. And just like any explorer you may end up "lost." Don't panic, just click on one of the links at the top of the window to return to one of the "pages" in the document. There are links at the top to each of the nine parts to this document.

Now go explore and remember what you're looking for:
-an understanding of the history of the internet.
-the experience of exploring a topic through the internet.

Robert Melczarek
Introduction for EDU 606
School of Education
Troy State University, Dothan

My name is Tehmus Mistry and I am a lecturer of new media at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland New Zealand.

I found your article " History of Internet and WWW: The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History by Gregory R. Gromov" through a search engine and started reading it. However, I found the presentation style extremely hard to read and this unfortunately has been the hindrance to reading the article and enjoying the articles content.

I can see the style and emphasis the article is trying to achieve.
However, with the fonts, colors and layout used it makes reading
difficult. A more classical approach could achieve the same result with without making reading of the article a chore.

Since the article is recommended by many organizations as a good read
with regards to the history of the Internet, it would be appropriate to make the article an enjoyable read and less of an eyestrain.

If you feel you do not have the time to change the look and feel, I will be happy to assign the task to one of my students to change its look and feel.

Tehmus Mistry
30 Sep 1998 18:39:28 -0700

Great site very informative, interesting type usage...
Maurice Roach
20 Oct 1998 16:53:40 -0700

tnx for your wonderful history of the inet, by far the best I have seen
Tom Lamb
26 Oct 1998 06:06:39 -0800

Your Internet history website is freaky. The fonts and colors don't look like anything I've ever seen. I like it!
James Page

Thank you for telling the history of the internet in a manner that I could comfortably read, follow and understand. You guys were obviously in touch with your potential target audience.
Jens Morrison
13 Apr 1999 18:40:31

Thank you for the great site (and sight), friendly, easy to read and gives a new perspective on the Net
Jazz Veld
12 Apr 1999 14:38:31

I love the fonts and colours. Long may individuality live!!!! Well done on an interesting and informative piece of work
Simon Cockroft
12 Apr 1999 15:52:15

The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History by Gregory Gromov is a nine-part history of the ‘Net posted by Internet Valley, Inc. While possibly not the first place in the pool where a non-swimmer should take the plunge, this colorful and quirky site can be a great resource where an informed ‘Net surfer can come and let hypertext do the walking and the inventors of the ‘Net themselves do the talking. Many visitors have found the eccentric choices of typeface and color to be disconcerting, but it’s worth clicking around here.

Kelly Ward, Public Health Library, UC Berkeley

What really led up to the development of the Internet? Why is it so important to us? How did it expand from its military origins into the electronic highway we know it to be? Gregory R. Gromov provides answers to these and other questions in "The Roads and Crossroads of Internet History." Gromov presents an interesting look at the Net in the beginning, complete with timelines and milestones in not only Internet History but providing 
snippets of World History as well. His approach may seem confusing, even messy at first glance, but give it a moment, you'll see how he weaves the history of the Web together. It's creative, it's informative and it's well done--it's what the Web is all about

Carla Scarlett, BRIEFME.COM newsletter


A brief look from 1997:
Annual percentage growth rate of data traffic on undersea telephone cables: 90

Number of miles of undersea telephone cables: 186,000 Source: WinTreese

     1957: Sputnik has launched ARPA  

comet0317-5.GIF (2915 bytes)

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the need for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) after the Soviet Union's 1957 launch of Sputnik.

      1957 - October 4th - the USSR launches Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite.

      1958 - February 7th - In response to the launch of Sputnik, the US Department of Defense issues directive 5105.15 establishing the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

    The organization united some of America's most brilliant people, who developed the United States' first successful satellite in 18 months. Several years later ARPA began to focus on computer networking and communications technology.

    In 1962, Dr. J.C.R. Licklider was chosen to head ARPA's research in improving the military's use of computer technology. Licklider was a visionary who sought to make the government's use of computers more interactive. To quickly expand technology, Licklider saw the need to move ARPA's contracts from the private sector to universities and laid the foundations for what would become the ARPANET.

    The Atlantic cable of 1858 and Sputnik of 1957 were two basic  milestone of the Internet prehistory. You might want also to take a look on  the Telecommunications and Computers prehistory

    The Internet as a  tool to create "critical mass" of  intellectual resources 

    To appreciate the import ante the new computer-aided communication can have, one must consider the dynamics of "critical mass," as it applies to cooperation in creative endeavor. Take any problem worthy of the name, and you find only a few people who can contribute effectively to its solution. Those people must be brought into close intellectual partnership so that their ideas can come into contact with one another. But bring these people together physically in one place to form a team, and you have trouble, for the most creative people are often not the best team players, and there are not enough top positions in a single organization to keep them all happy. Let them go their separate ways, and each creates his own empire, large or small, and devotes more time to the role of emperor than to the role of problem solver. The principals still get together at meetings. They still visit one another. But the time scale of their communication stretches out, and the correlations among mental models degenerate between meetings so that it may take a year to do a week’s communicating. There has to be some way of facilitating communicantion among people wit bout bringing them together in one place.

    The Computer as a Communication Device by  J.C.R. Licklider, Robert W. Taylor, Science and Technology, April 1968. Online republish by Systems Research Center of DEC, p.29

The first visible results of Licklider's approach comes shortly:



1969: The first LOGs: UCLA -- Stanford


According toVinton Cerf:
...the UCLA people proposed to DARPA to organize and run a Network Measurement Center for the ARPANET project...


    Around Labor Day in 1969, BBN delivered an Interface Message Processor (IMP) to UCLA that was based on a Honeywell DDP 516, and when they turned it on, it just started running. It was hooked by 50 Kbps circuits to two other sites (SRI and UCSB) in the four-node network: UCLA, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Santa Barbara (UCSB), and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

fournode-2.gif (17482 bytes)

  The plan was unprecedented: Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data.They would start by typing "login," and seeing if the letters appeared on the far-off monitor.


    "We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI...," Kleinrock ... said in an interview: "We typed the L and we asked on the phone,

    "Do you see the L?"
    "Yes, we see the L," came the response.
    "We typed the O, and we asked, "Do you see the O."
    "Yes, we see the O."
    "Then we typed the G, and the system crashed"...

Yet a revolution had begun"...

Source: Sacramento Bee, May 1, 1996, p.D1

1972: First public demonstration of  ARPANET

In late 1971, Larry Roberts at DARPA decided that people needed serious motivation to get things going. In October 1972 there was to be an International Conference on Computer Communications, so Larry asked Bob Kahn at BBN to organize a public demonstration of the ARPANET.

About one - two years after the first online demo of  how "actually let the public come in and use the ARPANET, running applications all over the U.S ...." (Vinton Cerf) the NET became  really   busy  especially "every Friday night" (Bob Bell)

      Around about 1973 - 1975 I maintained PDP 10 hardware at SRI.

      I remember hearing that there was an ARPANET "conference" on the Star Trek game every Friday night. Star Trek was a text based game where you used photon torpedos and phasers to blast Klingons.

      I used to have a pretty cool logical map of the ARPANET at the time but my ex-wife got it. (She got everything but the debts.)

      Bob Bell
      DEC Field Service

  It seems we  found   "a pretty cool logical map of the ARPANET" which Bob has kindly reminded us about . Thanks, Bob!
net71-2.gif (28175 bytes)

Logical map of the ARPANET, April 1971

  • 1958 Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) created by Department of Defense (DoD).
  • 1961 Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) assigns a Command and Control Project to ARPA.
  • 1962 Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) formed to coordinate ARPA's command and control research.
  • 1972 ARPA renamed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
  • 1986 The technical scope of IPTO expands and it becomes the Information Science and Technology Office (ISTO).
  • 1991 ISTO splits into the Computing Systems Technology Office (CSTO) and the Software and Intelligent Systems Office

By Charles Babbage Institute
Center For the History of Information Processing


University of Minnesota


The Internet has changed the way we currently communicate...
But could the Internet have performed the function it was originally designed for?



CNN: Would the internet
survive nuclear war?


The Internet Post-Apocalypse

There's a common myth that the Internet could survive a nuclear attack.

If the Internet, or pieces of it, did withstand such a war, how would it be used post-apocalypse?

Would the Internet itself be used to wage war?

Would it become a sole source of information for the surviving masses?

Or would it be too cluttered with dead sites and falsehoods to be worth anything?




B. Porter - 05:09pm Oct 3, 1998 ET ... It is very doubtful the Internet would survive ANY sort of large-scale nuclear attack....  A few years ago a single "surge" in a major West Coast power line, caused a large portion of the West Coast to be blacked out for several hours. (If you live on the West Coast you probably remember this.) The effect of so many power-stations going out at once would be catastrophic to the power grid for ALL of North America, and Western Europe...

Finally, however, the biggest problem, as was previously mentioned, is the EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse - ed.) pulse. The first missiles to fly ... would then explode, at high-altitude.... These explosions would result in an unprecedented EMP pulse that would cripple virtually 90% (Military estimates put this at closer to 95% of more) of all electronics in the U.S... Almost anything with a microchip in it would be gone.... Imagine the effect of this...

D. Callahan - 09:42am Oct 6, 1998 ET

... This question is somewhat stupid: In keeping with the Cold War theme, I'll end with a quote from Kruscheve (spelling): "In a nuclear war-the living will envy the dead..."

By CNN Interactive


The point that I do want to dust off and raise again is that ARPA wouldn't have happened, if what used to be the Soviet Union hadn't shaken  complacent U.S. awake with a tin can in the sky, Sputnik.

Wars do wonders for the advancement of technology, and the Cold one was certainly no exception. The way to get a technology advanced is to gather a lot of really smart people under one roof and get them to concentrate on a single project. Of course, that takes some organization  and money. Where does that come from? But that's another can of worms - to be opened with relish at a later date. In this case, it was the only body that had a stake in making sure the Net worked -  the government.

What with the Cold War in full swing and all, the military, specifically its think tank the Rand Corporation, was concerned that if the war ever got hot and large chunks of the country were vaporized, those phone lines (not to mention considerable segments of the population) would be radioactive dust. And the top brass wouldn't be able to get in touch and carry on. Thus the packets bouncing from node to node, each of those nodes able to send, receive and pass on data with the same  authority as any other. It was anarchy that worked, and on a technical level, it still does, obviously.

REWIRED by David Hudson,
August 9th, 1996


The Roads That Were Built By Ike

. ike2.gif (8055 bytes)


"I like Ike" was an irressistible slogan in 1952. About half century later, there are reasons  "to like Ike" even more ...

Many people don't realize that there is more than a metaphor which connects the

"Information Superhighway"

with the

Interstate Highway System


In 1957, while responding to the threat of the Soviets in general and the success of Sputnik in particular, President Dwight Eisenhower created both the Interstate Highway System and the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA.

.by Steve Driscoll,   Online Computer Library Center Inc.

Information Superhighway:
what exactly does it mean?
In Europe:
"A term often used by the media to describe the Internet."
by The Internet Dictionary , Bradford, England
there are  lots of different meanings:
Information Superhighway/Infobahn: The terms were coined to describe a possible upgrade to the existing Internet through the use of fiber optic and/or coaxial cable to allow for high speed data transmission. This highway does not exist - the Internet of today is not an information superhighway.
by  Internet Glossary , SquareOne Technology
information superhighway or I-way - this is a buzzword from a speech by Vice President Al Gore that refers to the Clinton/Gore administration's plan to deregulate communication services and widen the scope of the Internet by opening carriers, such as television cable, to data communication. The term is widely used to mean the Internet, also referred to as the infobahn (I-bahn).
by  Online Dictionary , NetLingo

Confusing, isn't it?
Fortunately  Nice Lady kindly agreed  to clarify the root source:


Tipper and Al Gore Tipper Gore:"When my husband Vice President Gore served in the House of Representatives, he coined the phrase "information superhighway" to describe how this exciting new medium would one day transport us all. Since then, we have seen the Internet and World Wide Web revolutionize the way people interact, learn, and communicate."
Photo of Tipper and Al Gore wedding: 20-th year BW (Before Web)
Gore has become the point man in the Clinton administration's effort to build a national information highway much as his father, former Senator Albert Gore, was a principal architect of the interstate highway system a generation or more earlier.

Principal Figures in the Development of the Internet ...
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


24 Jun 1986:  Albert Gore (D-TN) introduce S 2594
Supercomputer Network Study Act of 1986

21 March 1994:  Gore's Buenos Aires Speech
International Telecommunications Union:

"By means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time ... The round globe is a vast ... brain, instinct with intelligence!"

This was not the observation of a physicist--or a neurologist. Instead, these visionary words were written in 1851 by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my country's greatest writers, who was inspired by the development of the telegraph. Much as Jules Verne foresaw submarines and moon landings, Hawthorne foresaw what we are now poised to bring into being...

morse1.gif (5682 bytes)

Samuel Morse (1791-1872)

Samuel Morse was a professional painter whose talent in portrait work was well known. However, his career as an amateur scientist would soon overshadow his artistic endeavors.
Morse went from painting to patents when he began investigating Joseph Henry's development of the electromagnet. Henry's success in sending the first electric impulse along a wire in 1831sent Morse to the drawing board to develop a way to use this discovery in the field of communications.
Once he convinced Congress to sanction the first long-distance telegraph line, an iron wire was strung between posts from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington, D.C. -- a
distance of 37 miles. On May 24, 1844, the first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought," was successfully sent and received along the first telegraph wire system.

In 1835, he developed the prototype of the telegraph, which used magnetic transmitters and receivers to send a pattern of signals across a wire.

telegr2.gif (2983 bytes)

Two years later, Morse gave up painting to work full-time on his invention. He soon developed a language of signals called Morse Code, which used a combination of short and long signals called dots and dashes to represent numbers and letters in the alphabet. All that was needed was a network of wires to send messages across great distances.
Source:The Lemelson-MIT Prize Program 

... I opened by quoting Nathaniel Hawthorne, inspired by Samuel Morse's invention of the telegraph. Morse was also a famous portrait artist in the U.S.--his portrait of President James Monroe hangs today in the White House. While Morse was working on a portrait of General Lafayette in Washington, his wife, who lived about 500 kilometers away, grew ill and died. But it took seven days for the news to reach him.

In his grief and remorse, he began to wonder if it were possible to erase barriers of time and space, so that no one would be unable to reach a loved one in time of need. Pursuing this thought, he came to discover how to use electricity to convey messages, and so he invented the telegraph and, indirectly, the ITU."

Go To the next Page of the Story next Page
Road #1 | Road #2 | Next | Web | Road #3 | Hypertext | Xanadu | Stats | Conclusion

See also: Telecommunications and Computers prehistory

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Copyright ©1995-2003 Gregory Gromov