1. 1969: The Advent Of ARPANET
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network — or ARPANET, for brevity’s sake — is born, and it connects four college computer terminals across the coasts. It can transmit around 6,250 ASCII characters a second, which amounts to roughly two pages of text, or about six Harry Potter fanfics per minute. We’re still several years out from cat videos overtaking the ‘tubes, so productivity is at an all-time high.
2. 1976: ARPANET And Ethernet Are Operational
Officially operational, the ARPANET grows to connect 61 nodes — or, to put it in “Net Speak,” roughly the size of a small Everquest guild. Additionally, the first Ethernet cable is incepted with a test unit capable of running at a trailblazing 2.94 megabits per second and connecting 256 workstations. The social network is still a few decades off though, so aspiring Net-goers are forced to actually go outside to make friends. shudder
3. 1980: Ethernet And Usenet Are Introduced
Ethernet is commercially introduced to the tech-savvy masses, and Internet discussion system Usenet is established. Somewhere, in a deep, dank corner of the early Internet, the world’s first message board troll spawns from his hateful primordial stew, and uses this amazing advancement in technology to call The Shining “overrated.”
4. 1982: The World’s First Proper Emoticon
In what can only be called the most noteworthy technological innovation since that Benjamin Franklin Tesla guy invented the car, computer Scott Fahlman creates the first two proper Internet emoticons: the smiley ( :-) ) and the sad face ( :-( ). The world is indelibly altered.
5. 1985: The First Dot Com Is Registered
Now-defunct computer company Symbolics registers the first recorded dot com domain: symbolics.com. Please note that they specialized in computer hardware, not creativity.
6. 1990: Adios, ARPANET
ARPANET is, sadly, decommissioned after the introduction of the National Science Foundation Network, or the NSFNET. On a brighter note, the International Movie Database is spawned from a Usenet thread about which actress has the best eyes. Which, based on the IMDb’s current status as a place for Internet oddballs to wonder aloud about various starlets’ collective bust sizes, seems like a fitting beginning.
7. 1995: Hello, Internet!
The NSFNET is decommissioned, restrictions on Internet usage are lifted, and the commercialization of the World Wide Web ensues. Various Internet service providers start to crop up, and mailboxes across the country are overstuffed with America Online 2.5 CD-ROMs. Drink coaster sales drop dramatically.
8. 2001: Wikis And Torrents And Blogs, Oh My
Hot on the heels of the Napster controversy, the entirety of the Internet is split between people that want to steal everything and people that want to learn everything. The former is thrilled with the release of file-sharing client BitTorrent, while the latter is pleased with the launch of online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Now without purpose, the salesforce at Encyclopedia Britannica sits by a series of silent phones, waiting for a call that will never come.
9. 2006: The Ubiquity Of The Internet
Broadband cable Internet is now the norm, and as Wi-Fi signals spread across the country like wildfire, the Blogosphere slowly but surely transforms itself into a force to be reckoned with. Also, Twitter is launched, and an overwhelming tidal wave of “what I had for lunch” micro-updates threatens to undo thirty years of technological advancement in one succinct swoop.
10. 2012: And Now…Introducing Ultra-Fast Verizon FiOS Quantum℠ Internet!
Nowadays, just about everything — from your home devices to your mobile gadgets — is constantly connected to the Internet at lightning fast speeds. Many Netizens are already experiencing revolutionary connectivity speeds with Verizon FiOS Quantum℠ Internet, which boasts breathtaking always-on speeds of up to 300/65Mbps. So that’s, in layman’s terms, about a bazillion times faster than the early days of the ARPANET, and a true evolution of the Information Superhighway.