From experiment to global data network – the Internet celebrates a birthday
Aachen, Germany, 28 October 2019: "lo" – this was the first message transmitted over a predecessor of the Internet we know today on 29 October 1969 in the USA as the system crashed after the first two letters of the word "login" had been entered. On the second attempt an hour later, it was possible to transmit the complete text. Initially, there were two university computers connected with each other over a decentrally organised network, while just a few weeks later this number rose to four. The Internet was born!
ARPANET became the World Wide Web
In the years that followed, more and more computers were added to what was then called "ARPANET". However, at the beginning, the various "languages" of the PCs proved to be problematic. A standardised operating system didn't yet exist. It wasn't until the development of a common computer language in 1983, the TCP/IP network protocol for data transmission, that development of the Internet continued.
Originally designed for the exchange of military and scientific information, it made possible the advancement of the CERN nuclear research laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland – not just for sending and receiving data, but also for storing this information in a kind of enormous database. We owe it to the English physicist Tim Berners-Lee, who had developed the http protocol around 1990, that the previously highly restricted PC network has become accessible to more users. This laid the foundation for the "World Wide Web".
Starting in the 1990s, the Internet became more and more established in Germany and other countries. In the early years, people connected to the Internet via dial-up modem over the telephone line. In Germany, users were not permitted to connect to the Internet over the telephone line while using a non-Deutsche Bundespost (German federal post office) modem until the mid-1980s. Heiko Harbers, founder and CEO of devolo AG, recalls: "In 1988, while we were still operating under the name ELSA, we launched the first authorised modem on the market that did not come from the Deutsche Bundespost. It was the MicroLink 2400M model, which initially cost a tidy sum of 1950 Deutsche Marks."
The Internet today
What was revolutionary and new back then is indispensable today. It's been a long time since only messages were sent from one computer to another. The Internet has developed into a single large network of computers which shares data amongst themselves. Every computer can send or access information. Today, over half of the global population has access to the Internet. In Europe, this number is above 90% (source: Global Digital Report 2018). The Internet has become an everyday tool, from a source of information to a purchasing platform to a mobile cinema.