The History of the Internet....
The global village for dummies
The History of the Internet
The internet's history can be traced back to ARPANET - which was started by the US Dept. of Defense for research into networking sometime in 1969.
Many people wanted to put their ideas into the standards for communication between the computers that made up this network, so a system was devised for putting forward ideas. Basically you wrote your ideas in a paper called a 'Request for Comments' (RFC for short), and let everyone else read it. People commented on and improved your ideas in new RFCs. The first RFC (RFC0001) was written on April 7th, 1969 - this is probably the closest thing to a 'start date' for the internet. There are now well over 2000 RFCs, describing every aspect of how the internet functions. This is was all in 1969!
ARPAnet was opened to non-military users later in the 1970s, and early takers were the big universities - although at this stage it resembled nothing like the internet we know today. International connections (i.e. outside America) started in 1972, but the internet was still just a way for computers to talk to each other and for research into networking; there was no World-Wide-Web and no email as we now know it.
It wasn't until the early to mid 1980s that the services we use most now started appearing on the internet. The concept of 'domain names', things like 'thinkquest.com', and special `Domain Name Servers' wasn't even introduced until 1984 - before that all the computers were just addressed by their IP addresses (numbers). Most protocols for email and other services appeared after this.
The part of the internet most people are probably most familiar with is the World-Wide-Web. This is a collection of hyperlinked pages of information distributed over the internet via a network protocol called HTTP (hyper-text-transfer-protocol). This was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. He was a physicist working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, and wanted a way for physicists to share information about their research - the World-Wide-Web was his solution. So the web was started, although at this time it was text-only. Graphics came later with a browser called NCSA Mosaic. Both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape were originally based on NCSA Mosaic.
The graphical interface opened up the internet to novice users and in 1993 its use exploded as people were allowed to 'dial-in' to the internet using their computer at home and a modem to ring up an 'Internet Service Provider' (ISP) to get their connection to this (now huge) network. Before this, the only computers connected were at Universities and other large organizations that could afford to hire cables between each other to transfer the data over - but now anyone could use the internet and it evolved into the 'Information Super Highway' that we know and (possibly) love today.