NSFNET - First High-Speed Internet Backbone       

Networking and Web Accomplishment1988 - 1995

IBM researchersRick Boivie, Yakov Rekhter and others in ACIS and Research

Where the work was done: IBM T. J. Watson Research Center and  IBM ACIS Lab in Milford, Connecticut

What we accomplishedIBM provided the foundation that enabled the commercial development of the Internet and the creation of the worldwide web.

Working with the National Science Foundation and our partners at MCI and Merit, we designed, developed and deployed a new high-speed network -- the New NSFNET -- to connect approximately 200 U.S. universities and six U.S.-based supercomputer centers. The NSFNET quickly became the principal backbone of the Internet and the spark that ignited the worldwide Internet revolution.

The NSFNET greatly increased the speed and capacity of the Internet (increasing the bandwidth on backbone links from 56 Kbits/second to 1.5 Mbits/second and then to 45 Mbits/second), and greatly increased the reliability and reach of the Internet reaching more than 50 million users in 93 countries when control of the Internet backbone was transferred from the U.S. Government to the telecom carriers and commercial Internet Service Providers in April 1995.

Note: The hardware and software that we used to build the NSFNET were also used to build the EASINET and CA*NET Internet backbones (in Europe and Canada respectively) -- as well as the first high-speed, trans-Atlantic Internet link, which connected one of our NSFNET nodes, at Cornell, to one of our EASINET nodes at CERN (the European Center for Nuclear Research).  Ten months after this link came up, the very first website in the world came online -- at CERN.

Related links: NSFNET 20th Anniversary Collection (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Image credit: IBM