The Birth of the Internet Highway

The modern internet owes its existence to a series of government-funded projects. It began with the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in the early 1960s, and expanded into a network of networks with the creation of the National Science Foundation's National backbone (NSFNET) in the late ‘80s. Today, the internet has spread beyond government control and into the hands of private companies.

But the seed of the internet’s development was planted decades ago by the U.S. military.

The birth of the internet is a complex and fascinating subject. Today, the internet is an essential part of modern life. It has transformed businesses, education, entertainment, and the way that people connect with each other. In this article, we’ll explain the history of the internet, from the ARPANET to the modern-day Internet.

The Early Internet

The modern internet is largely the creation of the United States government. The first internet service provider (ISP), visionary computer scientists, and the United States military are all responsible for the creation of the modern internet.

The first internet was the ARPANET, a military-only network developed by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in the early 1960s. The idea of an electronic network that would span the globe originated with the DoD, which funded many early internet efforts. In October 1962, a federal government contract was awarded to the University of Utah to build a network that would link a number of United States Department of Defense (DoD) computers. The first message, which was sent from the computer at UCLA to that at the DoD, was logged at 10:15pm on October 29, 1962.


The ARPANET was a network of networks. The original network, which was developed by the DoD, consisted of a network of approximately 20 to 50 separate networks, each of which was located in a different United States university. The networks in turn were connected to a single network that went to each university’s computer. The ARPANET was first deployed in 1969, with the first public instance opening in October 1971. The ARPANET was a key factor in the early development of the internet, but it was not the only major network.


In the early 1980s, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) merged with the Department of Energy’s Office of Advanced Technology Support (OATS) to become the Energy Research and Development Agency (ERDA). One of ARPA’s major responsibilities was to fund the development of computer and communication networks that could support national security research.

One of ARPA’s first big projects was a network that would become known as NSFNET. NSFNET was a national network, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that provided high-speed internet access to researchers in the United States. The network was first deployed in November 1984, with the final installation completed in July of the following year. NSFNET was the first major internet connection other than the ARPANET, and it led to the expansion of the internet into a wide range of uses.

Commercial Internet Development

The commercial development of the internet began in the 1980s and ‘90s, when several large companies began offering commercial internet services. The first commercial internet service was Prodigy, founded by ex-Dial-Up customers, which was launched in October 1981. Other early commercial internet services included AOL (launched in October 1983), Compuserve (launCon in August 1961), Telenet (1984), and GEnie ( launched in 1991).

Many of these early services were originally created for use by businesses, but the general public soon became interested in the services as well. By the early 1990s, most of these companies had abandoned their original business model in favor of a subscription model.

The Internet Goes International

The internet went international in the mid-1990s when several countries created domestic networks that allowed their citizens to communicate with each other and with people around the world. The first country to create such a network was Japan, which launched its NIC-1 network in August 1995. A few months later, China launched its commercial internet service, ChinaNet.

Other countries soon followed suit. By the end of the decade, most of Asia and Europe had a domestic internet network that allowed citizens to communicate with each other and with people around the world.

The Current State of the Internet

The internet is currently expanding at a rapid pace. According to a report by the Internet Society, the internet will grow from 7.9 billion users in 2017 to 9.6 billion in 2022. By 2022, the internet is projected to have connections speeds of up to 40 Mbps (megabits per second), which is double the current average of 20 Mbps.

The report also predicts that the vast majority of these connections will be mobile, with 6.9 billion mobile internet users by 2022. The report also projects that the average upload speed will increase from 2 Mbps in 2017 to 10 Mbps in 2022.