Looking back to go forward: 50 years of the Internet

“Looking back to go forward: 50 years of the Internet” was the title of the talk I gave at this year’s edition of IT Days in Cluj-Napoca. IT Days is one of the most important events on the local market, and 2019 marked its 7th edition. It was my first time speaking here, and I enjoyed the experience. Given many people asked me about the slides (which don’t contain much info), I’ve decided to add a bit more content to them and publish it all in a blog post here (you can download the slides below while reading the blog post for the voice over). I’ll take you through the main ideas presented during my talk, and I do hope you’ll enjoy it.

Structure of the talk: I’ve started with a brief history of the internet evolution, marked the most essential or funny milestones, and then run through the most significant achievements that were possible with the “help” of the porn industry. Yes, we do need to thank the porn industry for online payments, for example, and many tech inventions.

Next, I moved to look into the future, bringing into the talk the ten human conditions predictions Daryl Plummer, distinguished VP Analyst, Research & Advisory at Gartner made during their Symposium in Orlando a few weeks back. As these tend to make you think about the harm technology can produce, I’ve continued with the hopes people at the same conference had around how they wish technology will positively influence our future society.

And in the end, I dedicated a few minutes to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, and his Contract for the Web and hopes that the Internet will continue to contribute more positively to human development. Below now, you can find the slides and their main talking points.

History & timeline

  • In the early 1900s, Nikola Tesla toyed with the idea of a “world wireless system.”
  • The 1930s and 1940s, visionary thinkers like Paul Otlet and Vannevar Bush conceived of mechanized, searchable storage systems of books and media
  • 1958, creation of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), it led to the creation of the Internet we recognize today
  • 1962, J.C.R. Licklider, a scientist from ARPA and MIT, suggested connecting computers to keep a communications network active in the US in the event of a nuclear attack, named ARPA network or ARPAnet. The existing national defense network relied on telephone lines and wires that were susceptible to damage
  • 1969, military contractor Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN) developed an early form of routing devices known as interface message processors (IMPs), which revolutionized data transmission
  • October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message: a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another. (The first computer was located in a research lab at UCLA and the second was at Stanford; each one was the size of a small house.) The message—”LOGIN”—was short and simple, but it crashed the fledgling ARPA network: The Stanford computer only received the note’s first two letters.
  • in the 1970s after scientists, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, a communications model that set standards for how data could be transmitted between multiple networks
  • 1971, email was first developed by Ray Tomlinson, who also decided to use the “@” symbol to separate the user name from the computer name (which later on became the domain name)
  • 1974, a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, is introduced and considered to be the first ISP (Internet service provider)
  • 1982, the emoticon was born. While many people credit Kevin MacKenzie with the invention of the emoticon in 1979, it was Scott Fahlman in 1982 who proposed using “J” after a joke, rather than the original -) proposed by MacKenzie. The modern emoticon was born.
  • 1983, ARPAnet adopted the transmission control protocol (TCP) and separated the military network (MILnet), assigning a subset for public research 
  • 1984, domain name servers (DNS)
  • 1985, the launch of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), designed it to connect university computer science departments across the US. The NSFNET eventually became a linked resource for the five supercomputing centers across the US, connecting researchers to regional networks, and then on to nearly 200 subsidiary networks. NSFNET took on the role of internet backbone across the US, with ARPAnet gradually phased out in 1990
  • 1988, Robert Morris, a Cornell graduate student, releases a virus that unintentionally infects and crashes a substantial number of all Internet-connected computers. The Internet was essentially down for several days
  • 1989, Tim Berners-Lee of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) created the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), a standardization that gave diverse computer platforms the ability to access the same internet sites. For this reason, Berners-Lee is widely regarded as the father of the world wide web (www)
  • 1991, the first web page created https://www.webfx.com/blog/web-design/the-history-of-the-internet-in-a-nutshell/1993, the Mosaic web browser was created at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was a key development that emerged from the NSFNET. Mosaic was the first to show images inline with the text, and it offered many other graphical user interface norms we’ve come to expect today (like the browser’s URL address bar and back/forward/reload options for viewing webpages.)
  • 1994, Canter and Siegel, attorneys-at-law, post individual copies of an advertisement concerning the green card lottery to 5,500 Usenet groups, creating the first major commercial spam incident. Much of the traffic is carried over the NSFNET. NSF declines to restrict the traffic on free speech grounds.
  • 1995 Microsoft licenses Mosaic from Spyglass (a software company offshoot of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign/NCSA) as the basis of Internet Explorer 1.0—released as an add-on to Windows 95 in the Microsoft Plus! software package. Microsoft subsequently bundles Internet Explorer with Windows, and all versions created before Internet Explorer 7 acknowledge Spyglass as the licensor of the IE browser code.
  • 1997 – 1998, Google begins as a Ph.D. research project at Stanford University, using the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com is later registered in 1997 and formally incorporated in 1998. Seemingly derived from their R&E roots, Google’s declared code of conduct for the 2004 IPO notes: “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.”
  • 2004: Web 2.0, Though coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci, the term “Web 2.0”, referring to websites and Rich Internet Applications (RIA) that are highly interactive and user-driven, became popular around 2004. During the first Web 2.0 conference, John Batelle and Tim O’Reilly described the concept of “the Web as a Platform “: software applications built to take advantage of internet connectivity, moving away from the desktop (which has downsides such as operating system dependency and lack of interoperability).
  • 2004: social media, dig, The Facebook
  • 2005: YouTuber
  • 2006: Twitter
  • 2007: the iPhone & the mobile Web

We cannot ignore, as tabu-like the topic as it may be, the contribution that pornography had with regards to the Internet and many technological developments. Bandwidth, streaming video, webcams, online payment, subtitles, cable television are just a few of the technologies created by and for the porn industry. Still, we couldn’t imagine the world today without them, across everything we do.

Gartner top predictions for the upcoming years

You can read them here, together with their full description, videos, and critical facts around their predicted development.

All these, though, will only be built on the fears that start to accompany us during our online experience. Online privacy, personal data usage, security, fake news, are all needed to avoid the Brexit or Trump situation being repeated. Or to stand a chance to exercise our free will.

At the same conference, we have asked people about what their hopes are for technology, contributing to a better society. And this is what they said…


  • Better medical care, a cure for chronic & rare diseases, precision medicine
  • Ethics, inclusion and human rights
  • Economic opportunities for underserved populations
  • Solve global issues such as global warming
  • Security and privacy
  • IoT, automation, self-driving cars
  • Holographic messages and more AR
  • Improve the human condition
  • Enable more face to face communication and bring back human connection

Sir Tim Berners-Lee contribution and the World Wide Web

  • Thirty years ago today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee revolutionized life as we know it by changing the way we communicate and consume information.
  • On March 12, 1989, the London-born computer scientist submitted a proposal for an information management system to help his colleagues at CERN share information amongst themselves. Impressed by the plan, Sir Tim’s boss allowed him time to work on the idea, and by 1991, the World Wide Web was up and running.
  • Today, there are nearly two billion websites online, and it is hard to imagine life without the Web, and this is all thanks to the genius of Sir Tim.
  • Pics with first websites: https://www.standard.co.uk/tech/who-is-tim-berners-lee-world-wide-web-www-inventor-net-worth-facts-quotes-a4088781.html
  • Sir Tim is a vocal supporter of the concept of net neutrality and free Internet.
  • One of his ideas is a “decentralised” Internet — a hive network where no one has overall control and believes monopolies are dangerous. He is also wary of the amount of private data and information people share online, and how the Web has been abused by companies
  • He has also said the impact of fake news is increasingly concerning and has unveiled plans to tackle “unethical” political advertising and the harvesting of data
  • The Internet has become a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and so much more
  • It has given a voice to everyone, including the marginalized, but also to scammers and bad intended people to disseminate hate, fear or propaganda
  • That is why access to the Web and using it right should become a human right. Sit Tim has put together a contract for the Web
  • A Contract for the Web: https://contractfortheweb.org/draft-07-2019/:

Governments will

Principle 1 – Ensure everyone can connect to the Internet

Principle 2 – Keep all of the Internet available, all of the time

Principle 3 – Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights

Companies will

Principle 4 – Make the Internet affordable and accessible to everyone

Principle 5 – Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data from building online trust

Principle 6 – Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst

Citizens will

Principle 7 – Be creators and collaborators on the Web

Principle 8 – Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity

Principle 9 – Fight for the web