The early days of the Internet. The waking of the Web. We decided upon these five moments between 1966 and 1990 as being crucial to the future of the Web.
ARPANET, as it would become, was not in fact a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, but simply a military computer network for sharing data across long distances. It influenced the creation of the Internet, and was initially instigated by a $1m funding by then-ARPA director Charlie Herzfeld, to then-IPTO director Bob Taylor, a Texan.
'A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection' was a paper published in 1974 by Vinton G Cerf and Robert E Kahn. It detailed what would eventually be called TCP/IP -- the packet-switching technology that makes the entire Internet possible. It's what gets your data from A to Z, even if most of the Internet implodes, and is possibly the most significant development in Net history.
Described as 'administrative entities', Internet pioneer Dr Jon Postel introduces the top-level domains .com, .org, .gov, .edu and .mil in one of a series of documents called Request For Comments, which were papers published by the Internet Engineering Task Force. Postel also ran and managed the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, which was set up to coincide with the introduction of the domains.
After reading in a 1984 magazine article about an efficient lossless compression algorithm called LMZ, CompuServe developers released the GIF image, not knowing the algorithm had a patent pending. The Graphics Interchange Format became insanely popular for its efficiency, and years later transformed the Web into full colour. In 1986, Unisys successfully patented the LZW algorithm, but did nothing to stop CompuServe. A few years later, the two companies banded together and decreed developers must pay to use the format. Unhappy developers revolted.
British CERN employee Tim Berners-Lee saw that the European Organisation for Nuclear Research needed a more efficient way for scientists to share information, much like ARPA. And just like that, the World Wide Web began as a rudimentary experiment with hypertext. The final project proposal to CERN in 1990, entitled WorldWideWeb: Proposal for the HyperText Project, was Berners-Lee's way of saying, "Hello. I'd like to invent the Web."