Major moments that shaped the world wide web

From shopping and e-learning to staying in touch with family and watching funny cat videos, the internet is an integral part of our lives. But it wasn’t always as sophisticated as its modern day form. As it becomes ever more advanced we take a look at 15 years of landmark events that helped it become the oracle of information it is today.


The World Wide Web starts as a CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) project called ENQUIRE, led by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee. Other names considered for the project include: ‘The Information Mesh’ and ‘The Mine of Information’.

‘You’ve got mail!’ The iconic greeting welcomes users of the AOL Instant Messenger chat service.


WorldWideWeb, the first ever web browser is born. Developed by by Tim Berners-Lee.

Before Google there was Archie. The first tool to search the internet developed by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University.


The term ‘surfing the internet’ is first coined and becomes widely used.

The first ever photo is posted on the internet by Tim Berners-Lee of the band Les Horribles Cernettes.


CERN donates its World Wide Web technology to the world, putting it in the public domain.

Mosaic 1.0, the first ever web browser popular with the public is created by The National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Both it and the World Wide Web garner the attention of The New York Times, which noted: ‘Think of it as a map to the buried treasures of the Information Age’.


The first ever online purchase is a tasty one - a pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and extra cheese from Pizza Hut.

Jerry Yang and David Filo create Yahoo! which was originally supposed to be named the far less catchy: ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’.


Slightly larger in scale today; launches itself as: ‘Earth’s Biggest Bookstore’.

Dating pioneer launches as the first ever online dating site.

Ebay - original named AuctionWeb - is launched by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar. His broken laser pointer is the first item listed and sold.

Internet Explorer and Windows 95 are released by Microsoft.


Set to be the first of many, Nokia release the first mobile phone that can connect to the internet.

One of the world’s first Webmail service, Hotmail launches.

A 3D animated dancing baby is one of the first videos to ‘go viral’.


The internet allows people to really explore further than ever before with millions visiting Mars on the internet. Jet Propulsion Lab gives people the chance to watch the Sojourner rover land and explore Mars. The landmark broadcasts is tuned in 40 - 45 million times a day.

Netflix’s humble beginnings is as a company that sends DVDs to homes through the mail.

The now giant registers as a domain.


41% of adults now use the internet, with the weather being the most viewed news attraction.

Music sharing platform Napster launches.


E-cards arrive in full force. With over 30 million people sending them to loved ones.


Wikipedia is launched by Jimmy Wales, with 20,000 user generated encyclopedia articles written in its first year.


The era of social media arrives in the form of, but is soon eclipsed by the popularity of Facebook.


‘Skype me’, becomes a popular expression as the world-famous voice-over-IP calling and instant messaging service launches.


Google starts trading on the NASDAQ at $85 a share.

The meteoric rise of Google triggers a boom for the internet as a whole and the next decade sees it become increasingly essential to everyday life.

Curious to know what happens next in the history of the internet? Read the full timeline.