The Internet’s First 40 Years: Top Ten Milestones

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While 40 years in a person's lifetime is a very long time, the Internet -- which turned 40 today -- is really only getting started.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
Still, like just about any 40-year-old guy, the Internet has packed a lot of changes into its life so far. No birthday celebration for the Internet would be complete without giving recognition to some of the biggest milestones.

Deciding on which ones is a totally tough call, because the Internet has made such a huge impact on anyone lucky enough to access it.

But as I view things, anyway, it's important to pay tribute to the myriad technologies created over the past four decades to

Illustration: Jeffrey Pelo
connect people to the Internet -- first through modems and then through wireless and cable -- as well as to let them access communications like data, radio, and TV in ways once unimaginable.

So here, in chronological order, is my rather arbitrary list of Top Ten Internet Milestones, gleaned largely from a nostalgic look back through the pages of PC World.

October 29, 1969. Leonard Kleinrock, a UCLA college professor, sends a two-letter message -- "lo" -- to a computer at Stanford Research Institute. The Internet is born.

October 13, 1994 - The

-- eventually to be known as Netscape Navigator -- is released as beta code.

November 6, 1997 - Intel ships a videoconferencing system that runs on the Internet (gasp!) as well as on ISDN phone lines (remember them?) and corporate LANs.

February 18, 1998 - The first V.90 modems, enabling Internet acc

internet modems
Illustration: Jack Gallagher
ess at the then-whopping rate of 56 Kbps, are shipped to stores by 3Com Corp.

Sometime in September 1999 - An Internet-enabled game machine named Dreamcast debuts, pioneering a pathway that will eventually lead to Nintendo's GameCube and Sony's PS3.

June 28, 2000 - Metricom rolls out the then-blazingly fast, 128Kbps Ricochet wireless service in Atlanta and San Diego.

August 21, 2002 - Together with T-Mobile and HP, Starbucks expands WiFi access to users at 1200 coffee shops throughout the US .

Early January, 2009 - Yahoo shows off Connected TV, a platform allowing Web widgets to dock on Internet-connected HDTVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Early July, 2009 - Internet radio services like Pandora,

and are saved -- albeit temporarily -- when recording companies agree to make royalty fees more comparable to those paid by satellite TV services, for example.

October 22, 2009 - Microsoft's Internet TV, a new service for accessing Web-based streaming TV shows and movies from directly inside Media Center -- finally leaves beta as part of the launch of Windows 7.

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