The Internet

The Birth of Linux

Tux the Linux MascotAugust 25, 1991

Linus Torvalds posts a message to the Internet newsgroup comp.os.minix with the subject line “What would you like to see most in minix?” This is the first announcement that he is working on an operating system that will one day become Linux.



Google’s IPO

Google IPOAugust 19, 2004

Google holds its Initial Public Offering (IPO) selling over 22 millions shares at a starting price of $85. Google shares closed that day at $100.34 and the IPO created many instant millionaires and a few billionaires.

The First Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 1.0August 16, 1995

Microsoft introduces Internet Explorer, which at the time was a modified version of Spyglass Mosaic, which Microsoft had licensed. Later when Microsoft began including Internet Explorer for free with Windows, Spyglass sued Microsoft for not paying what they felt were the proper royalties. Microsoft settled for $8 million.

Windows Gets Blasted

Blaster Worm SymptomAugust 11, 2003

The Blaster worm, also known as MSBlast or Lovesan, begins to spread on the Internet, infecting Windows XP and Windows 2000 computers. The primary symptom of the worm was the crashing of the RPC service, which would trigger the computer to shut itself down and reboot as shown in the graphic. Microsoft estimated the number of machines infected between 8 and 16 million. Damage caused by the worm was estimated at $320 million.

Code Red Worms its Way into the Internet

Spread of Code Red WormJuly 13, 2001

The Code Red worm is released onto the Internet. Targeting Microsoft’s IIS web server, Code Red had a significant effect on the Internet due to the speed and efficiency of its spread. Much of this was due to the fact that IIS was often enabled by default on many installations of Windows NT and Windows 2000. However, Code Red also affected many other systems with web servers, mostly by way of side-effect, exacerbating the overall impact of the worm, ensuring its place in history among the many malware outbreaks infecting Windows systems in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

World, Meet the Internet

Boelter Hall, UCLAJuly 3, 1969

UCLA issues a press release stating that it “will become the first station in a nationwide computer network which, for the first time, will link together computers of different makes and using different machine languages into one time-sharing system.” It went on to say that “Creation of the network represents a major forward step in computer technology and may server as the forerunner of large computer networks of the future.”

How right they were! Of course, this was the first step in creating what became known as the Internet. The first transmission on that newly created internet wasn’t actually sent until October 29th.

I could only find the text of the press release from the above link, which is a scan from a book. So I took the liberty of transcribing it using Siri along with a little manual editing. The text of the UCLA press release dated July 3rd, 1969 follows:

UCLA will become the first station in a nationwide computer network which, for the first time, will link together computers of different makes and using different machine languages into one time-sharing system.

Creation of the network represents a major forward step in computer technology and may serve as the forerunner of large computer networks of the future.

The ambitious project is supported by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), which has pioneered many advances in computer research, technology and applications during the past decade. The network project was proposed and is headed by ARPA’s Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts.

The system will, in effect, pool the computer power, programs and specialized know-how of about 15 computer research centers, stretching from UCLA to M.I.T. Other California network stations (or nodes) will be located at the Rand Corp. and System Development Corp., both of Santa Monica; the Santa Barbara and Berkeley campuses of the University of California; Stanford University and the Stanford Research Institute.

The first stage of the network will go into operation this fall as a subnet joining UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The entire network is expected to be operational in late 1970.

Engineering professor Leonard Kleinrock, who heads the UCLA project, describes how the network might handle a sample problem:

Programmers at Computer A have a blurred photo which they want to bring into focus. Their program transmits the photo to Computer B, which specializes in computer graphics, and instructs B’s program to remove the blur and enhance the contrast. If B requires specialized computational assistance, it may call on Computer C for help.

The processed work is shuttled back and forth until B is satisfied with the photo, and then sends it back to Computer A. The messages, ranging across the country, can flash between computers in a matter of seconds, Dr. Kleinrock says.

UCLA’s part of the project will involve about 20 people, including some 15 graduate students. The group will play a key role as the official network measurement center, analyzing computer interaction and network behavior, comparing performance against anticipated results, and keeping a continuous check on the network’s effectiveness. For this job, UCLA will use a highly specialized computer, the Sigma 7, developed by Scientific Data Systems of Los Angeles.

Each computer in the network will be equipped with its own interface message processor (IMP) which will double as a sort of translator among the Babel of computer languages and as a message handler and router.

Computer networks are not an entirely new concept, notes Dr. Kleinrock. The SAGE radar defense system of the Fifties was one of the first, followed by the airlines’ SABRE reservation system. At the present time, the nation’s electronically switched telephone system is the world’s largest computer network.

However, all three are highly specialized and single-purpose systems, in contrast to the planned ARPA system which will link a wide assortment of different computers for a wide range of unclassified research functions.

“As of now, computer networks are still in their infancy,” says Dr. Kleinrock. “But as they grow up and become more sophisticated, we will probably see the spread of ‘computer utilities’, which, like present electronic and telephone utilities, will service individual homes and offices across the country.”

DES Cracked

EncryptionJune 17, 1997

A group of users organized over the Internet cracked the Data Encryption Standard — the strongest legally exportable encryption software in the United States — after five months of work. The United States bans stronger encryption software out of fear that it would be used by terrorists, but companies designing the software say such restrictions are worthless because foreign countries offer much stronger programs.

The Day the Music Industry Changed Forever

NapsterJune 1, 1999

Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker release the filesharing service Napster. The service provides a simple way for users to copy and distribute MP3 music files. It becomes an instant hit, especially among college students. Just over 6 months later, on December 7, 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will file a lawsuit against the service, alleging mass copyright infringement. Eventually this lawsuit will force the shutdown of the company on September 3, 2002, but not before the popularity of downloading digital music is firmly entrenched in a generation of Internet users.

GIF is Not Peanut Butter

Newton's Cradle AnimationMay 28, 1987

CompuServe releases the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) standard as a new computer graphics file format. Due to color limitations, the GIF format is unsuitable for reproducing color photographs, but it is well-suited for more simple images such as graphics or logos with solid areas of color. This made it probably the most popular graphics format for the early Internet, until the famous “GIF licensing controversy” soured many designers to its use. The PNG format was developed in response as an alternative to GIF to get around the licensing issues. However, all relevant patents have since expired and the GIF format may now be freely used. Today it still sees widespread use, especially when simple animations are needed.

World Wide Web Launched

The First Web ServerMay 17, 1991

The first server “web server” in history is set up by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXTcube at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The launch of this first server is considered the public release of the World Wide Web.