Believe it or not, the Internet actually turns 40 this year; more specifically, its actual birthday points to Wednesday, as the first connection between two UCLA computers--pioneered by Len Kleinrock and his team of engineers--took place on that date back in 1969. Originally named Arpanet, the network was an experimental project for the U.S. Department of Defense, initially exchanging meaningless data.
However, it wasn't until the following month--October 29 in fact--that a network connection was established between two geographical locations: UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California. The network grew to include UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah, and thus, as they say, was history.
The Associated Press posted an awesome timeline of the Internet, listing the global network's milestones. In 1972, Ray Tomlinson brought e-mail to the network, introducing the "@" symbol to specify addresses from other systems. In 1973, two international nodes were established in England and Norway. In 1983, a domain name system was proposed, offering ".com" and ".gov," with ".edu" following years later.
In 1988, one of the first Internet worms appeared and crippled thousands of computers. The first commercial Web browser, Netscape, was released back 1994, and Amazon loaded its online retail shelves a year later. Napster changed the music industry in 1999, and the dot-com crash of 2000 changed the way Internet websites generated revenue.
To read the full timeline, read the AP list here. To learn more about Internet pioneer Len Kleinrock, head here.