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NSF and the Birth of the Internet Text-only | Flash Special Report
Maps


SEQUENTIAL MAPS OF INTERNET GROWTH

Four Maps of Internet Growth in the United States
1969 ARPANET, 1977 ARPANET, 1988 NSFNET Backbone, 1995 NSFNET T3 Backbone

[Download PDF file]
These four maps show, in clockwise order, the growth of the Internet from its beginning to 1995, when the NSFNET backbone was decommissioned and the private sector took over its operation. The Internet began as an experiment in computer networking by the Department of Defense (DoD) in the late 1960s. By the 1970s, DoD expanded its network to include several research universities and laboratories. By the 1980s, it was clear that networking had great potential to assist academic research. The National Science Foundation created NSFNET, which provided a backbone network, shown in the bottom illustrations, for regional academic networks to connect to the national supercomputer centers and with each other. In less than ten years, traffic on NSFNET grew at a rate of 20% a month as more and more users came online. Eventually the private sector had built sufficient Internet infrastructure that NSFNET was decommissioned.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation

2007 Internet Map
[Download PDF file]
A visualization of Internet connections in the United States. The lines represent connections between routers in major urban areas throughout the country. From its humble beginnings in the academic research community to its current state, the Internet’s infrastructure grew in a relatively short period of time as private sector providers scrambled to meet the rising public demand for greater access and band
width. This growth will continue into the foreseeable future as the nature of the network evolves and more devices such as cellular phones, PDAs and even common appliances are brought online.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation, adapted from map by Chris Harrison, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University