The lead technology story at ABCNews.com today is about the 40th Anniversary of the Internet. I'm quoted therein; hence, my special interest in this piece. The article begins, "Though it might try to hide its graying hairs, it was 40 years ago today that computer scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, established a network connection between two computers ...."
And, indeed, it is almost as if the origins of the Internet are hidden from contemporary view, though not by any intent. I expect that the facts of the existence of early computer networks (ARPANet, the Internet, consumer online services like CompuServe, and many other types of telecomputing nets) have been displaced in the public mind by the many glitzy developments on the Web in over the past decade and more.
Further, the story is so complicated that the majority of attempts to chronicle it end up focusing on one or two elements. For instance, you can read a half-dozen randomly selected books that purport to tell the history of the Internet and the Web, and come away thinking there was nothing until ARPAnet (online content existed years before that great experiment), the World Wide Web (a johnny-come-lately in 1992), and AOL (whose predecessors go back to 1978) are the full story. It's far from that; get a copy of On the Way to the Web at your local library (or from the publisher, or wherever) to see what I mean. In the meantime, read the ABCNews.com story. In addition to providing the facts and milestones, the story (and those to which it links) offers a handy list of milestones along the way to the Web.