The Major Historical Internet Events in the World Since 1969

I am making this available because I see myself as not just a business person, writer or a blogger, I also see my self as an Internet Media Personality. And to function in that capacity, there is a need to know the internet trends. This post is my own documentation of the history of the internet from where it started and where it is now.

Here we go…

Major Historical Internet Events

1969: The Internet is born.

In order to link universities with research facilities, the Advanced Research Project Agency run by the US Department of Defense developed ARPANET, which served as the basis of the Internet as we know it today. Rumor has it that the original objective of this project, against the backdrop of the Cold War, was to develop a distributed communication system to ensure fail-safe communication in case of a nuclear war.

1971: The first e-mail.

Ray Tomlinson, inventor of e-mail, sends a message to his colleagues in 1971 and informs them about the fact that from then on, it was possible to send news via a network by adding the @-icon and the computer’s host name to the addressee’s user name. In Germany, the first e-mail is received on August 3rd, 1984, at 10:14 CET. Under his address, “rotert@germany”, Michael Rotert at Karlsruhe University receives greetings, which were sent the day before.

1980: IBM hires Paul Allen and Bill Gates to create an operating system for a new PC. They buy the rights to a simple operating system manufactured by Seattle Computer Products and use it as a template to develop DOS.

1983: The cell phone is invented.

Motorola releases the first commercial cell phone. It costs nearly $4,000 and allows talking for only one hour.

1989: The World Wide Web (WWW) is born.

In order to keep the data chaos at the CERN research center within a limit, Tim Berners-Lee, a Brit who works there as a computer scientist, lays down his “Information management” white paper. Many consider this to be the birth certificate of the World Wide Web. The idea of the first browser to move within the World Wide Web is also Tim’s idea. Its name, “World Wide Web”, became a synonym for the Internet as a whole.

1989: The invention of the MP3.

Karlheinz Brandenburger completes his doctoral thesis, “Digital Music Compression”, which he had begun in 1982 at the Frauenhofer-Institut as well as at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg. The research he and his team embarked on facilitated the birth of the music industry’s nightmare: the MP3.

1988/90: DSL pushes the Internet.

DSL makes it suddenly possible to receive data ten times as fast as with a regular 56k modem. Finally, this new high-speed Internet allows listening to music and watching movies in real-time.

1990: Accessing the Internet with your cell phone.

From the beginning of the nineties, it is possible for the consumer to access the Internet via the GSM net, even though this access is at low speed.

1993: The golden Shield by China.

China launches its blocking program for anti-regime content on the Internet. They call it “The Golden Shield” or “The Great Firewall of China”.

1993: The first CD burners hit the market.

In combination with the invention of the MP3, a lethal duo evolves, since it is now possible for anybody to burn his or her own music and to trade or even sell it.

1994: The first banner ads are sold.

HotWired is the first company to sell banner ads on a large scale. The first buyers: AT&T and Zima. The click rate, the number of clicks on one banner in relation to its overall number of views, is 30%! Today, it is already considered a success when the 1% barrier is reached.

1994/95: The foundation of Yahoo.

David Filo and Jerry Yang work on a navigation aid for the Internet. The number of Internet sites registered in the web catalogue, a kind of telephone directory for the Internet, was growing simply too rapidly. So, they started categorizing them. This turned out to be the cornerstone for one of the most successful brands of the Internet. Its name: Yahoo.

1995 Java is introduced. is founded by Jeff Bezos. EBay is founded by Pierre Omidyar. Hotmail is started by Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia.

1997: Blank CDs enter the charts.

In 1997, music, downloaded illegally from the Internet, burnt on CD and sold illegally, is the trigger for the worldwide crisis of the sound carrier industry. For the first time, in 2001, more blank CDs (182m) are sold than recorded CDs (172m).

1998: College Kid destroys the music industry with Napster.

Shawn Fanning programmes the peer-to-per music sharing tool “Napster” and thus plunges the already very weakened music industry into an unrivalled crisis it is still recovering from today.

1998: The Birth of Google Search Engine. goes online as a test version and is one of the first “real” search engines where a program combs through the Net, not an editorial department. In the year of its foundation, Google already knows 25 million sites and has become the worldwide leader on the search engine market with 80% of all search requests.

1998: The “MP3” of the movie business (Divx).

French hacker, Jerome Rota, creates the first “DivX ;)” video codec, which is basically MP3 for videos. “DivX ;)” allows, in combination with DSL and other highspeed Internet access methods, users to share full movies via the Internet. Today, DivX is a company without the smiley in its name, with profits of approximately $84.9 million in 2007.

1998: The MP3 player.

The first portable MP3-player hits the shelves.

2000: Google gives up its ad-free policy.

By introducing Google Adwords, the company invents keyword advertising, a new form of online advertisement displaying relevant ads along with the search result. By 2009, Adwords is responsible for 95% of Google’s income.

2000: Nobody can stop file sharing.

Napster is buried in lawsuits and is in danger of being forced to pay millions to labels. Yet, instead of this move decreasing file sharing, users jump to many other peer- 2-peer tools such as Gnutella, eDonkey2000, Kazaa and Morpheus, which can now even share movies, e-books and software.

2000: The dotcom bubble.

The retained Internet hype starts blowing up in March 2000. The first stock prices go down and an increasing number of stocks are sold. Still, many investors believe the market will recover soon, and thus miss the right time to bail out, losing a fortune.

2001 Bill Gates introduces the Xbox on January 7th 2001.

2001: The knowledge of the crowd: Wikipedia.

The free online encyclopedia, “Wikipedia”, is founded and any Internet user is not only allowed to read Wikipedia articles for free, but he or she can also write or edit them. The days when people had to pay hundreds of Euros for a whole lexicon volume are over. Right now (September 2009), Wikipedia stores approximately 10 million articles provided in more than 230 languages.

2001: Apple launches iTunes.

Apple introduces iTunes and shows the music industry (with the “iTunes Music Store”) how to make money by selling songs and albums via the Internet. By September 2006, Apple has sold more than 200 million songs in the USA and Canada. By the middle of 2007, Apple will have sold more than 3 billion songs, 50 million TVseries episodes and 2 million movies worldwide via “iTunes Store”.

2001: Apple introduces the iPod.

In February, Jon Rubinstein introduces the first, 1.8-inch hard drive to Steve Jobs, along with the idea of carrying your whole music collection with you in your pocket. Steve Jobs says: “Go for it!” and on October 23rd, Apple presents the first iPod, featuring a 5 GB hard drive.

2003: Hello MySpace.

Tom Anderson founds the “MySpace” Internet community, and thus, re-defines the way all following generations communicate. In the future, some will meet their boyfriend or wife-to-be, not in a disco, but via a social network. In 2006, the 100th millionth member will get registered, and by the end of 2008, the number of members will have grown to 260 million.

2003: Skype scares the telecommunication industry.

Skype is Voice-over-IP software, which allows making calls or even video calls for free over the Internet. The beta version goes live in 2003. VoIP tools such as Skype jeopardize the core business of many telecommunication enterprises and cell phone service providers, since they are trying for a few more years to make money through telephone fees. The consequence will be that in 2009, cell phone service providers are doing their utmost to block the usage of Skype on their cell phones.

2004: UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications) makes the mobile web usable.

UMTS allows far higher data transfer rates than before. Finally, the way has been cleared for services such as mobile Internet, IPTV and Voice-over-IP services like Skype, which are going to become standard on every smart phone in just a few years from now.

2004: Competition for MySpace by Facebook.

In February, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg develops the social online network “Facebook” for his fellow students.

2004: World of Warcraft enters the market.

World of Warcraft, WoW in short, is an online role-playing game. Today, more than 11 million players are going online as dwarves and company, and are paying on a regular basis.

2005: Murdoch buys MySpace.

The media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, buys MySpace for $580m.

2005: Broadcast yourself.

Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim found the Internet portal, “YouTube”, on which users can upload and watch video clips for free.

2005: Goodbye video rental store.

The change doesn’t stop at the doors of video rental stores. In October 2005, Apple presents the new video feature on iTunes. One year later, 550 TV shows and 75 movies can be downloaded in the USA. It’s more than obvious that an increasing number of people can’t be bothered to go outside and head for the next video rental store, since you can watch nearly any movie by simply clicking on it.

2006: Boom of the online travel agencies.

Another industry has changed utterly, which is the travel and tourism industry, since its core business has increasingly shifted to the Internet. Up until a few years ago, families flipped through brochures at travel agency offices and were looking for personal advice. Now, in 2006, an estimated 70 million people go online to gather information about their next holiday trip.

2006: Google buys YouTube.

Google announces the take-over of YouTube for $1.5 billion.

2006: Facebook opens up.

Until September 2006, only American pupils, students and company employees were able to register with Facebook. From now on, students of foreign universities can also register.

2005: eBay acquires Skype

2006: The first party for the digital natives.

On January 1st, 2006, the pirate party is founded in Sweden and becomes the first party to commit itself to civil and freedom rights as well as to freedom of information and data privacy. Its most important target groups are Internet users and file sharing platform users, deploying tools such as BitTorrent and students in particular.

2006: Internet changes the porn industry.

From the very beginning, pornography was one of the main drivers of the Internet and the word “sex” was one
of the most often-entered terms in search engines. Yet, just as the high supply of freely available music caused big trouble for the music industry, the oversupply of sex on the net and Internet sites such as YouPorn (featuring free titty clips) made the conventional porn industry lose up to 50% of its income.

2006: The world starts tweeting.

The social network, “Twitter”, is presented to the public in March 2006. Twitter is a so-called “micro blogging service”. As with common blogs, it is mostly used as a public diary – the only difference being that it is fed in real-time via the cell phone, the web or several different apps and widgets, in never more than 140 characters. The purposes for which Twitter is being used are manifold.

2006: Suicide through MySpace

Megan M. commits suicide after being mobbed by a friend’s mother through MySpace messages.

2007: Google Books starts scanning the world’s literature.

Google has digitalised more than one million books. Nearly one-and-a-half years later, by October 2008, you will be able to flip through 7 million books on Google Books.

2007: The iPhone.

On June 29th, 2007, the first iPhone is available on the US market and is responsible for a drastic increase of mobile Internet usage. Already two years later, more than 65% of all mobile Internet users in the US go online with an iPhone or an iPod Touch.

2007: Radiohead says “Pay what you want”.

Radiohead releases their album, “In Rainbows” as a digital download on their website and let every downloader pay as much as he or she wants – even nothing. Only in the first 29 days after the release, more than 1.2 million people visited the site and paid an average of $2.26 for the album. Twelve percent even paid between $8 and $12 – about the same amount like iTunes would charge.

2008: With the Internet strategy into the White House.

Thanks to a groundbreaking election strategy with the Internet and social websites such as MySpace and Facebook being its center point, Obama’s campaign starts off with only 21 million dollars in May 2007 but is able to collect over 150 million dollars by September 2008 through small donations made via the Internet. Thanks to the “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” tool on, Obama’s supporting volunteers are able to reach far more people within their community in much less time than before. This selective deployment of e-mails, text messages and the support of the Obama girl in 2007 not only turn him into the most innovative, but also the “hippest” president.

2008: 1 out of 8 couples getting married in the USA have met online.

2008: Monty Python open their own YouTube chan- nel to “suppress the illegal distribution of their vid-eos”.

What appeared to be a typical Python joke at first quickly pays off for the guys: from then on the only way Monty Python DVDs know in the Amazon sales charts is up.

2009: Dell announces to have made more than 3 million dollars in computer sales via Twitter posts in 2007.

2009: More than 15,000 people in the newspaper industry have lost their jobs.

2010: Pope Benedict XVI calls on using the Inter- net even more than before to spread the “Word of Christ”.

This post will be updated as soon as their is any new major internet happenings. If you think I’m missing some things out, you could help by sharing them in the comment box provided below and I will update this post with them as soon as possible.