Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation

This timeline highlights key events, projects, publications, and technological changes affecting the use of digital technology and efforts to preserve it. You can apply filters to the timeline by clicking on the green tabs below. For a complete, unfiltered, list of entries, choose Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation in the breadcrumbs above. The seven subject categories include:


  • The first teletype is connected to a "timesharing" mainframe computer.


  • The first ARPANET node is installed at UCLA Network Measurement Center.


  • The first ARPANET network email message is transmitted.


  • Dialog offers the first publicly available online research service.


  • The first ARPANET nodes appear in Europe.

  • Ethernet cable

    Bob Metcalfe invents Ethernet, a local area network (LAN) technology.


  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specification is published.


  • Ohio State University introduces one of the first online catalogs.

  • First list servers are introduced.


  • 100 hosts exist on ARPANET.


  • Dallas Public Library introduces one of the first online public catalogs (OPACs).

  • worm

    A "worm" program that searches out other computers copies itself then self-destructs is invented by two Xerox PARC researchers.


  • USENET emerges as a collection of user-submitted messages on various subjects posted to servers on a worldwide network.


  • Digital faxes using uniform data standards appear.

  • The TELNET protocol is specified, allowing command line login sessions between hosts.


  • BITNET, a network of academic sites comparable to but separate from the Internet, appears.


  • ARPANET shifts to TCP/IP.


  • Architecture of the Domain Name System (DNS) is designed, contains 1000 hosts.

  • As personal computers become more powerful, people become accustomed to faster machines and graphical interfaces. Use shifts from centralized mainframes to personal computers distributed over a network.


  • NSFNET replaces ARPANET as the main government network linking universities and research facilities.


  • The number of DNS hosts begins doubling each year.

  • NCSA develops NCSA telnet, making it easier to connect to a remote computer.


  • Z39.50 becomes the international standard defining a protocol for computer-to-computer information retrieval. Z39.50 makes it possible for a user to search and retrieve information from other computer systems without knowing the search syntax used by those other systems.

  • virus

    The Internet Worm virus temporarily shuts down 10% of the world's Internet servers.


  • MCI Mail and Compuserv provide the first commercial email connection through NSFNET.


  • Archie software for searching FTP sites is released.


  • Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) protocol is introduced, allowing collections of indexed data to be retrieved by searches.

  • An early World Wide Web (WWW) system is released by CERN to the high energy physics community.

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) initial draft.

  • Gopher

    Gopher, a distributed document search and retrieval network protocol, is released.


  • Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) protocol proposed.

  • Network service providers America Online and Delphi connect their proprietary email systems to the Internet, beginning the large scale adoption of Internet email as a global standard.


  • InterNIC is created to manage Internet services.


  • National Science Foundation dismantles NSFnet and replaces it with a commercial Internet backbone.


  • Internet2 project is formed to provide a high-bandwith network for the national research community.


  • BITNET is retired.

  • The original version of the standard IEEE 802.11, the wireless LAN standard, is released, launching the WiFi phenomenon.

  • A human error at Network Solutions causes the Domain Name System (DNS) table for .com and .net domains to become corrupted, making millions of systems unreachable.


  • Two Web domain-name groups, Network Solutions and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, form the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to oversee the domain-name system.


  • Bluetooth logo

    Bluetooth, a short range wireless networking standard, is announced.


  • The third WiFi modulation standard, 802.11g, is ratified. Consumers products and WiFi "hotspots" proliferate.