A quick look through Internet history

No matter how long you've been online, you've almost definitely seen some huge increases in Internet speed. Back in the early days of dial-up, downloading a gigabyte would have taken more than a day, while our fastest (10 Gbps) connections can now potentially transfer that in under a second.

Below, we've put together a timeline taking you though the biggest developments for Internet connectivity, from the introduction of commercial dial-up to broadband, multi-gigabit connectivity and more.

  1. 1960s

    Early networks are proposed, planned and started, such as the American ARPANET, British NPL Network, and the largely unimplemented Russian OGAS network.

  2. 1983

    The Domain Name System (DNS) is first tested - stay tuned for an article on DNS, and the recent DDoS attacks on DNS providers.

  3. 1986

    In January, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meet for the first time, creating standards to improve Internet performance.

  4. 1990

    Pipex, the UK’s first commercial ISP, is launched, initially using leased lines to connect customers (while leased lines are still available today, they now provide vastly faster connectivity than these early ones allowed for).

  5. 1992

    Dial-up Internet is made commercially available, and quickly becomes the most common form of Internet connectivity. Dial-up Internet offered a range of speeds dependent on modem performance - in 1992, customers could get up to 14.4 Kbps (that's 0.0144 Mbps).

  6. 1994

    The London Internet Exchange (LINX) is established, helping to organise and assist ISPs around the UK. 28.8 Kbps modems become available, doubling the speed dial-up users can receive.

  7. 1996

    Global Data volume increases to over 1 million gigabytes/ 1 petabyte per month (roughly half of what a 10 Gbps connection could potentially transfer in a month).

  8. 1998

    Over 10% of the UK has Internet access, with usage rates increasing hugely year on year, while Google is launched, quickly emerging as a leading search engine. 56k modems (the last major upgrade for dialup) become available for the first time.

  9. 2000

    1 in 4 UK homes are using the internet, according to an ONS study.

    Broadband first launched for UK home users, with the first home broadband connection installed in March. Broadband is a wide-ranging term, encompassing everything from slow 256 Kbps connectivity to modern speeds thousands of times faster.

  10. 2002

    Internet use in the UK ramps up hugely, going from ~33.5 users per hundred people to ~56.5 in a year.

  11. 2003

    Exa Networks established, initially focusing on providing schools with high-quality, low-cost Internet connectivity, before later expanding into the business market.

  12. 2005

    Broadband overtakes dial-up in the UK, with just over half of all UK connections using some form of Broadband. Youtube initially launched.

  13. 2009

    Dial-up use in the UK falls to 10%,continuing to drop over the next few years, with around 1% of users currently using the service.

  14. 2010

    Over in America, Chattanooga, one of the world’s first Gigabit Cities, starts work to bring in gigabit (1000 Mbps) speed connections for residents and businesses, hugely speeding up Internet connectivity.

  15. 2012

    Average UK download speed reaches over 10 Mbps for the first time in November, with UK users getting 12 Mbps on average. Upload speeds are 1.4 Mbps on average, and 4G mobile broadband is launched.

  16. 2015

    Roughly 92% of people in the UK use the Internet, along with practically all businesses and schools. Average download speeds increase to 22.6 Mbps, with users starting to adopt faster options for connectivity.

  17. 2016

    We launch DarkLight connections, bringing future-proof, multi-gigabit Internet to schools and businesses across our first DarkLight Cities in Bradford and Leeds, before expanding to additional areas.