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How the Web was Won

The fascinating and untold story
of how an obscure military/academic computer network
became the biggest marketplace on the planet

It wasn’t DARPA or the Commerce Department or MIT’s Media Lab or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or Silicon Valley or Wall Street that figured out how to make the Internet pay for itself.

It was INDIVIDUALS – hundreds of them each adding a piece to the puzzle – who did all the heavy lifting and innovation that transformed the Internet into a commercially viable medium.

Interviews with innovators

Interview #1 – Mark Graham

Mark spearheaded the first large scale non-military/non-academic Internet project: PeaceNet. He put AOL on the Internet and maintained the only communications line to the former Soviet Union during the 1991 coup attempt.

Interview #2 – Steve O’Keefe

Steve is the guy Jeff Bezos went to when he wanted to learn how to sell books on the Internet. He wrote the first detailed, practical book on the mechanics of promoting things on the Internet, and was one of the first people, along with Eric Ward, ever to hang out a shingle as a full time professional web publicity expert.

Interview #3 – Rick Boyce

As the old – and true – saying goes: “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” Rick was the first person to organize a serious, professional team to tell banner ads – the original form of Internet advertising and still a dominant factor in making the Internet commercially viable.

Ken McCarthy – Sponsor and organizer of the first conference dedicated exclusively to the subject of web commerce, November 5, 1994

Timeline

ARPANET delivers its first message

October 29, 1969

The first ARPANET link established and first message sent (between UCLA and SRI). By the end of 1969, just four computers were connected to the ARPAnet, but the network grew steadily during the 1970s.

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Email added to ARPANET

January 1, 1971

Email added to ARPANET

Email protocol for ARPANET established (Ray Tomlinson). By 1976, 75% of ARPANET traffic was email.

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ARPANET adopts TCP/IP creating the Internet as we know it

January 1, 1983

ARPANET adopts TCP/IP creating the Internet as we know it

ARPANET adopts TCP/IP. TCP/IP is the underlying protocol for the Internet allowing all computer networks regardless of format to connect to it.

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PeaceNet founded

February 3, 1985

PeaceNet founded

PeaceNet founded in 1985 with 700 members. One of PeaceNet’s founders Mark Graham and the founder of EcoNet, Mitra Adron, joined forces in 1987 to create the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) an early attempt to use the global net for purposes other than military, governmental or academic.

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Government changes the rules to allow commerce on the Internet

January 1, 1989

Government changes the rules to allow commerce on the Internet

The National Science Foundation Network (NSFN), which inherited the management of the Internet from ARPANET, removed rules restricting the Internet to governmental and academic institutions only paving the way for online commerce.

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CompuServe joins the Internet

November 3, 1989

CompuServe joins the Internet

CompuServe becomes the first consumer online service to give its customers access to Internet email.

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World Wide Web launched

December 1, 1990

World Wide Web launched

In 1990 a computer programmer in Switzerland named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web: an internet that was not simply a way to send files from one place to another but was itself a “web” of information that anyone on the Internet could retrieve. Berners-Lee created the Internet that…

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Internet email becomes ubiquitous

January 1, 1993

Internet email becomes ubiquitous

Internet email access becomes ubiquitous among all online services

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Mosaic browser launched

January 23, 1993

Mosaic browser launched

In 1992, Marc Andreessen and a group of students and researchers at the University of Illinois developed a sophisticated browser that they called Mosaic. (It later became Netscape.) Mosaic offered a user-friendly way to search the Web: It allowed users to see words and pictures on the same page for…

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Yahoo founded

January 6, 1994

Yahoo founded

Yahoo founded (Jerry Yang and David Filo)

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Netscape founded

April 4, 1994

Netscape founded

Netscape founded with eight employees (Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark)

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The 3220 Meeting – June 11, 1994

June 11, 1994

The 3220 Meeting – June 11, 1994

On June 11, 1994, Ken McCarthy organized a meeting in San Francisco with leaders of the Internet commercialization movement to discuss practical pathways for commercializing the Internet. At this meeting McCarthy identified the monetization of clicks as the most likely foundation for a commercial Internet. Reference: Time Magazine March 9,…

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Amazon founded

June 28, 1994

Amazon founded

Amazon founded (Jeff Bezos)

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First banner ad on a commercial site

October 27, 1994

First banner ad on a commercial site

Wired Magazine’s Hotwired.com displays the first banner ad sold to a corporate client. AT&T was the advertiser. Rick Boyce led the sales effort Hotwired.com was the first web-based magazine designed to be financially self-supporting.

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The first web commerce conference – Part One

November 5, 1994

The first web commerce conference – Part One

Held in San Francisco at Pac Bell headquarters. Mark Graham and Marc Andreessen were featured speakers. Ken McCarthy presented the Direct Response Model for Internet publishing and commerce which proved to be the foundation of the commercial Internet.

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The first web commerce conference – Part Two

November 5, 1994

The first web commerce conference – Part Two

Left to right: Ken McCarthy, Marc Andreessen, Mark Graham. Featured speakers at the November 5, 1994 web commerce conference. The event was sponsored by Ken McCarthy’s company E-Media.

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Netscape IPO

August 9, 1995

Netscape IPO

Netscape went public on Aug. 9, 1995, just over a year after its founding, and only eight months after releasing the first version of its groundbreaking Web browser.

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The world’s biggest marketplace

January 1, 2019

The world’s biggest marketplace

There are currently 4.3 billion people using the Internet today, 56% of the total world population. In 2019, total estimated online sales: $3.53 trillion.

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