Dr T. Matthew Ciolek,
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies,
Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
Document created: 9 Jan 1999. Last updated: 4 Feb 2007
This document, intended as a reliable electronic reference tool,
provides a timeline for three types of developments and milestones:
(1) advances in long distance person-to-person communication;
(2) advances in storage, replication, cataloguing, finding, and retrieval of data;
(3) standardisation of concepts and tools for long distance interaction.
The advancements may have a:
T echnical (hardware),
C onceptual (software),
or an O rganisational aspect,
or represent an important M ilestone in the history of a given invention,
and are annotated as such in the timeline.
This document is only as good as the collated information itself. Please email any additional
data and corrections to email@example.com. Your
collaboration and input is warmly appreciated.
work in progress - tmc
- [T] Archie FTP semi-crawler search engine, built by
Peter Deutsch of MacGill University, Montreal, Canada.
(Zakon 1998). An archipelago of scattered FTP archives is melded
into a coherent, distributed information system.
- [T] WWW server (prototype) built. (Cailliau 1995).
- [M] On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of
Charles Babbage (1791-1871), the Science Museum in Kensington, Great
Britain, constructed a complete Difference Engine from the drawings
made 1834-1871. Only two major, but easy to remedy, errors were found
in the Babbage's blueprints (Lee 1994).
- [O] Contents of the WWW are manually catalogued in form of the centralised
WWW Virtual library system residing on CERN's WWW server (Secret 1996).
- [T] CD-recordable (CD-R) technology is released (Alpeda 1998).
- [T] WAIS publisher-fed search engine, invented in April
1991 by Brewster Kahle of the Thinking Machines Co. (St.Pierre
1994). WAIS was a program for indexing, storing and, retrieving
information about the contents of collections of full-text
documents. It spurred proliferation of distributed (but
interlinked) databases of text and graphic documents.
- [T] Gopher, created at University of Minnesota
Microcomputer, Workstations & Networks Center (La Tour 1995).
Integration of earlier Internet tools (Telnet, FTP, WAIS) into a
seamless whole. Initially, the system was a help service for
computer questions, then it started acting as a campus wide
information system, and soon grew to a world-wide network as
universities and governments began using Gophers to interconnect
hitherto separate pockets of their digital information.
1991 May 17
- [T] WWW server (production version) (Cailliau 1995).
The server solves the 'Big Technological 3': URL (addressing)
syntax, html (markup) language for documents, and HTTP
(communications protocol) in the context of the client/server
model. It also offers integration of earlier Internet tools
(Telnet, FTP, Archie, Gopher, Veronica and Jughead [alas, not
WAIS]) into a seamless whole.
1991 Dec 3
- [O]Coombspapers, the world's first Asian-studies FTP
site (ftp://coombs.anu.edu.au/coombspapers/), established by the Coombs Computing Unit, ANU, Canberra, Australia (Ciolek
- [M] Microprocessor (first marketed 1971) speed reaches 100,000,000
'additions' per second (Swerdlow 1995:15).
- [M] Over 25,000,000 licensed Windows users world-wide (Knight 1999).
- [M] 60,000 BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) in the US (Rheingold 1994:132).
"Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set" (UCS), aka ISO/IEC
10646 is published in 1993 by the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO). It is the first officially standardized coded
character set with the purpose to eventually include all characters
used in all the written languages in the world (and, in addition, all
mathematical and other symbols). It forms the basis for the Unicode
character set specified by a consortium of major American computer manufacturers (Järnefors 1996).
1993 Sep 21
- [O] Contents of the WWW are manually catalogued in form of
the distributed WWW Virtual library system. The first WWW VL outside
CERN is that for History, constructed by Lynn
Nelson at University of Kansas (Secret 1996, Nelson 1998).
- [T] Mosaic graphic WWW browser developed by Marc
Andreessen (Cailliau 1995). Graphics user interface makes WWW
finally a competitor to Gopher. Production of web pages becomes
an easy task, even to an amateur.
- [M] There are 200+ Web servers in existence (Ciolek 1998).
- [M] There are about 9 Veronica servers established at various places in the
world. These were databases provided by: NYSERNet, USA; PSINet, USA; SUNET, USA;
Tachyon Communications, USA; U. of Bergen, Norway; U. of Manitoba, Canada; U. Texas,
Dallas, USA; U. of Koeln, Germany and U. of Pisa, Italy (Ciolek 1998).
- [M] Veronicas are supplemented by Jughead databases. Jughead
is local gopherspace register: it keeps track of data and links known
only to single, usually large-scale, Gopher server. The other
difference is that Veronicas kept records of links to all resources.
Jugheads, on the other hand, were more selective and faster to use, as
they dealt only with information at the subdirectory level. The most
famous of the Jugheads was the one running at Washington U.,
St. Louis, USA (Ciolek 1998).
- [T] Architext WWW crawler search engine, the future Excite SE (launched Oct 1995), developed by five Stanford university graduates (Byrne 2000).
- [T] Britannica Online (www.britannica.com), the first encyclopedia for the Internet, makes entire text of the Encyclopaedia Britannica available worldwide. That year the first version of the Britannica on CD-ROM was also published (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2003).
1994 Jan 25
a 850th-880th WWW system in the world (coombs.anu.edu.au), constructed by the Coombs Computing Unit at the ANU, Canberra, Australia to organise online information on Social Sciences and Asian
Studies (Ciolek 1997).
1994 Feb 14
- [T] Labyrinth graphic 3-D (vrml) WWW browser is built by
Mark Pesce. It provides access to the virtual reality of
three-dimensional objects (artifacts, buildings, landscapes) which
readers could ambulate through and view from all possible directions,
as well as use for hypertext connections with other 3-D or 2-D (i.e.
ordinary) portions of the Web (Reid 1997:175)
The US Airforce launches the 24th satellite to complete the GPS
constellation. The spacings of the satellites are arranged so that a
minimum of five satellites are in view from every point on the globe.
Precise navigation and geo-positioning is now a practical reality
(Trimble Navigation Limited 1997).
Since Oct 93 some 340,000
copies of Mosaic browser software were acquired (from an FTP archive, accessible via Gopher and Web, as well as from a
dedicated WWW hypertext link) and put to immediate use by the Internauts. Mosaic and her
descendants - the Netscapes and Explorers - have been repeatedly and energetically downloaded and
installed ever since (Reid 1997:33-68).
Stuart Weibel and Eric Miller of OCLC leead the first workshop for The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) (dublincore.org) in Dublin, Ohio. DCMI is an organization dedicated to promoting the widespread adoption of interoperable metadata standards and developing specialized metadata vocabularies for describing resources that enable more intelligent electronic information discovery systems (DCMI 2003).
1995 March 25
- [T] WikiWikiWeb installed on Internet domain c2.com by Ward Cunningham. Wiki technology permits construction of web sites that allow "the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change available content, typically without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring" (Wiki 2007).
1995 May 23
- [T]Java programming language, developed by Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, California (Harold 1997). Client-side, on-the-fly supplementary
data processing can be performed using safe, downloadable micro-programs (applets).
- [T] Metacrawler WWW meta-search engine. The content of several WWW search engines can be quickly and automatically
interrogated (Selberg 1997).
1995 Jul 04
- [M]Altavista harvesting software 'Scooter' first 'crawled' the WWW (Byrne 2000).
1995 Jul 16
- [O] The first online bookstore, Amazon.com, is launched in Seattle by
Jeffrey P. Bezos. By late 1998 the cyberstore sold books to 4.5 mln people from more than 160 countries (Amazon.com 1999,
- [M] Excite WWW crawler search engine, based on 1993 Architext prototype, launched (Byrne 2000).
- [M] America Online (AOL) passes the 4 million subscriber mark (Carlson 1998).
1995 Dec 15
WWW crawler search engine is launched by Digital. It was built around the Digital Alpha processor. A very fast search of 30-50%
of the WWW is made possible (Compaq 1998).
- [M] The Internet comprises 14,352,000 hosts (Internet Software Consortium 1996).
- [M] There are 100,000 Web servers in existence (Ciolek 1998).
1996 Jan 17
- [M] Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, PLO Leader Yasser Arafat, and Phillipine President Fidel
Rhamos meet for ten minutes in an online interactive chat session (Zakon 1998).
- [M] America Online (AOL) passes the 5 million subscriber mark (Carlson 1998).
- [M] About 175 North American daily newspapers are available on
the World Wide Web. About 775 publications are available online worldwide (Carlson 1998).
- [T]Alexa WWW intelligent navigation adviser, developed by Brewster Kahle, San Francisco, California (Kahle & Gilliat 1996).
- [M] LeMonde, France's largest daily, launches its Web site in Paris (Carlson 1998).
1996 Jun 1
- [M] Paris has 15 cybercafes (Carlson 1998).
- [T]Internet Archive full text database, developed by Brewster Kahle, San Francisco, California (Kahle 1996).
1996 Jul 04
- [T] Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith launch in Freemont, CA, USA,
a free, web-based e-mail system, the Hotmail. The service had 250 users
within 3 hours and 100,000 users within a few days (Bronson
1996 Dec 8
- [M] Sue Helle and Lynn Bottoms, the first couple to do so in cyberspace, are married on-line by a minister placed in an office
ten miles away, in Seattle, USA. The online ceremony was attended from the East Coast by the couple's family. (Standage 1998:196).
- [M] 71,618 mailing lists registered at Liszt, a mailing list directory (Zakon 2003).
- [M] The Internet comprises 21,819,000 hosts (Internet Software Consortium 1997).
- [M] There are 650,000 Web servers in existence (Ciolek 1998).
- [T] DVD technology (players and movies) is released. A DVD-recordable standard is created (Alpeda 1998).
- [M] Web TV introduced (Knight 1999).
- [M] 190 bln emails and 190 bln pieces of first-class mail are sent each year
- [M] Infoseek WWW crawler search engine has 7.3 million users/ month (Byrne 2000).
1997 Dec 8
- [C] The World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C) announces the release of Extensible Markup Language (XML) version 1.0 (Sloan and Oldfield 1998).
1997 Dec 9
- [T] Digital Equipment Corporation and SYSTRAN A.G. launch "AltaVista Babelfish Translation Service" (babelfish.altavista.com), the first language translation service for Web content. The service enables online real-time translation of documents in five European languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish (Ament 1998).
- [M] The Internet comprises 29,670,000 hosts (Internet Software Consortium 1998).
1998 Jan 22
- [O]Netscape WWW browser source code is made freely accessible to the software community (Netscape 1998).
This strategic decision is influenced by the runaway successes of the Unix, TCP/IP
and Linux application development paradigms.
[This data-point was suggested by Kathy
Gill and, independently, by Doug Pearson]
- [T]Google WWW crawler intelligent search engine, developed at Stanford University, California (Google 1998).
- [M] Hotmail, a free, web-based e-mail system (launched 4 Jul
1996) has 22 million users and is growing at a rate of 125,00 users a
day (Bronson 2000:51-52,54).
1998 Aug 28
Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the
University of Reading in the U.K., became the first human to host a
microchip. The approximately 23mm-by-3mm glass capsule containing several
microprocessors stayed in Warwick's left arm for nine days. It was used
to test implant's interaction with computer
controlled doors and lights in a futuristic 'intelligent office building' (Witt 1999).
- [O]Java source code
is made freely accessible to the software community (Effinger and
- [M] There are 3.6 mln Web servers in existence (Zakon 1998).
- [M] More than 2.5 mln mobile phones were sold in Britain in the three
months up to Christmas, raising the number of the mobile phones in Britain
to 13 mln (Brookes 1999).
- [M] There are 2,247,000 Internet users in Spain, according to "El Pais." (Carlson 2000).
- [M] IBM becomes the first Corporate partner to be approved for Internet2 access (Zakon 2003).
- [M] The Internet comprises 43,230,000 hosts (Internet Software Consortium 1999).
- [M] America Online (AOL) passes the 14 million subscriber mark (Carlson 2000).
- [M] Over 1,000 WWW search engines (Horowitz 1999), over 39,000 IRC channels
(Southwick 1999) and over 135,000 Listserv lists in existence (L-Soft 1999).
- [T] The Nature reports an experiment in which by
hooking two paralysed sufferers of the amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS, or Motor Neurone Disease, a disease in which the
voluntary nervous system is destroyed) up to a computer via an
electroencephalogram, US and European researchers taught the
patients to mentally signal the computer to pick out letters on a
screen, spelling out messages. Currently, the communication speed
is very slow, about two characters a minute, but it should
eventually improve (Golden 1999).
- [M] There are 4.3 mln Web servers in existence (Zakon 1999).
1999 Mar 24
- [C] Wireless Markup Language (WML) Specification Version 1.1
is released. WML is a markup language based on XML and is designed to
cope with the constraints of small narrowband devices (cellular
phones, pages, palmtop computers). These constraints include: (a)
small display and limited user input facilities; (b) narrowband
network connection; (c) limited memory and computational resources.
WML offers: support for a variety of text and image formatting
and layout commands; Hypercard style interface metaphor (all
information in WML is organised into a collection of cards and decks);
Inter-card navigation and linking; string parameterization and
state management (Cover 2000).
1999 Apr - [M] NATO's war (24 Mar 99-20 Jun 99) with
Serbia, is dubbed 'Web War I', due to an extensive bi-lateral use
of the Web and email for information/disinformation purposes. The
conflict in Kosovo is the first war in history to have its own home page
(Coates 1999). The other major international media's wars are: WWI (press),
WWII (radio), Vietnam War (TV) (Ciolek, notes, Apr 1999).
1999 Jun 25
- [C]Netomat: The
Non-Linear Browser, by the New York artist Maciej Wisniewski, launched.
The open-source software uses Java and XML technology to navigate the
web in terms of the data (text, images and sounds) it contains, as opposed
to traditional browsers (Mosaic, Lynx, Netscape, Explorer) which navigate
the web's pages (Ciolek, notes, Jul 1999).
1999 Jul 01 - [T] Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Forum
announces in San Francisco, USA the WAP version 1.1 of the mobile
Internet standard specifications. WAP in conjunction with Wireless
Markup Language (WML) application layer enable users of digital mobile
phones and other wireless devices to securely access and instantly
interact with Internet/intranet information and advanced telephony
services (Cover 2000).
- [C] The first do-it-yourself blog tool - Pitas.com - is launched in Toronto, Canada by Andrew Smales. Blogs are the web-based "online diaries" in which information is organised chronologically. Blogs (or, web-logs) consist of a series of posts published by the site's owner, and comments inputted by blog's audience, an ever-fluctuating online diary community (Jensen 2003).
- [M] The publicly indexable WWW contains an estimated 800 mln
pages, encompassing about 15 terabytes of information or about 6
terabytes of text after removing html tags, comments, and extra
whitespace (Lawrence and Giles 1999).
- [C] Blogger.com, is launched by Evan Williams, Paul Bausch, and Meg Hourihan. This blogging tool "quickly became the largest and best-known of its kind. Part of Blogger.com's appeal is that it lets people store blogs on their own servers, rather than on a remote base. This allows them to have a personalized address (like www.yourname.com), whereas with other blogging tools your address starts at the remote server." (Jensen 2003).
- [M] 3 billion SMS (short message service) text messages were
sent over GSM networks in December 1999 (The GSM Association, 5 Apr 2001).
1999 Dec 9
- [T] Barnes & Noble, a major US publisher and book
distributor, announce that it will begin offering print-on-demand
books online and at brick-and-mortar stores starting early next year.
IBM will provide the technology and manufacturing components for the
operation, which will eventually be available at all Barnes &
Noble distribution centers, starting at the Jamesburg, N.J., facility
in spring 2000 (Wilcox 1999).
1999 Dec 31
- [M] A global TV programme '2000Today' reports
live for 25 hrs non-stop the New Year celebrations in 68 countries all
over the world. It is the first ever show of that duration and
geographical coverage. The programme involved a round-the-clock work
of over 6000 technical personnel, and used a array of 60 communication
satellites to reach 1 billion viewers from all time-zones all over the
globe (The Canberra Times, 1 Jan, 2000).
Maintainer: Dr T. Matthew Ciolek (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright (c) 1999-2007 by T. Matthew Ciolek. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted for use of this document in whole or in part for
non-commercial purposes as long as this Copyright notice and a link to
this document, at the archive listed at the end, is included. A copy
of the material the "Milestones" appear in is requested. For commercial
uses, please contact the author first.
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