Report: Timeline of Communication Systems

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  1900 - 2000 A.D.

First broadcast talk

Invention of the short-wave radio

Invention of television in Germany and Russia

Invention of microwave transmission

Long-distance coaxial cable systems and mobile telephone services are introduced in the USA.

Sputnik, the first satellite, is launched by the USSR
First data transmissions over regular phone circuits.

At the beginning of the story of today's global data networks is the story of the development of satellite communication.

In 1955 President Eisenhower announced the USA's intention to launch a satellite. But it in the end it was the Soviet Union, which launched the first satellite in 1957: Sputnik I. After Sputnik's launch it became evident that the Cold War was also a race for leadership in the application of state-of-the-art technology to defense. As the US Department of Defense encouraged the formation of high-tech companies, it laid the ground to Silicon Valley, the hot spot of the world's computer industry.

The same year as the USA launched their first satellite - Explorer I - data was transmitted over regular phone circuits for the first time, thus laying the ground for today's global data networks.

Today's satellites may record weather data, scan the planet with powerful cameras, offer global positioning and monitoring services, and relay high-speed data transmissions. Yet up to now, most satellites are designed for military purposes such as reconnaissance.

ARPAnet online

ARPAnet was the small network of individual computers connected by leased lines that marked the beginning of today's global data networks. An experimental network it mainly served the purpose of testing the feasibility of wide area networks and the possibility of remote computing. It was created for resource sharing between research institutions and not for messaging services like E-mail. Although US military sponsored its research, ARPAnet was not designed for directly martial use but to support military-related research.

In 1969 ARPANET went online and linked the first two computers, one located at the University of California, Los Angeles, the other at the Stanford Research Institute.

Yet ARPAnet did not become widely accepted before it was demonstrated in action to a public of computer experts at the First International Conference on Computers and Communication in Washington, D. C. in 1972.

Before it was decommissioned in 1990, NSFnet, a network of scientific and academic computers funded by the National Science Foundation, and a separate new military network went online in 1986. In 1988 the first private Internet service providers started offering access to NSFnet to a general public. After having become the backbone of the Internet in the USA, in 1995 NSFnet was turned into a consortium of commercial backbone providers. This and the launch of the World Wide Web added to the success of the global data network we call the Net.

In the USA it was already in 1994 that commercial users outnumbered military and academic users.

Despite the rapid growth of the Net, most computers linked to it are still located in the United States.

Invention of E-Mail

Introduction of fiber-optic cable systems

Launch of the World Wide Web

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Timeline of Communication Systems
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World Wide Web (WWW)
Probably the most significant Internet service, the World Wide Web is not the essence of the Internet, but a subset of it. It is constituted by documents that are linked together in a way you can switch from one document to another by simply clicking on the link connecting these documents. This is made possible by the Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML), the authoring language used in creating World Wide Web-based documents. These so-called hypertexts can combine text documents, graphics, videos, sounds, and Java applets, so making multimedia content possible.

Especially on the World Wide Web, documents are often retrieved by entering keywords into so-called search engines, sets of programs that fetch documents from as many servers as possible and index the stored information. (For regularly updated lists of the 100 most popular words that people are entering into search engines, click here). No search engine can retrieve all information on the whole World Wide Web; every search engine covers just a small part of it.

Among other things that is the reason why the World Wide Web is not simply a very huge database, as is sometimes said, because it lacks consistency. There is virtually almost infinite storage capacity on the Internet, that is true, a capacity, which might become an almost everlasting too, a prospect, which is sometimes consoling, but threatening too.

According to the Internet domain survey of the Internet Software Consortium the number of Internet host computers is growing rapidly. In October 1969 the first two computers were connected; this number grows to 376.000 in January 1991 and 72,398.092 in January 2000.

World Wide Web History Project,