Timeline before 2000

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Pre-2000 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 - 2018 - 2019 - 2020
  • For reference, the timeline includes a small number of entries on the early history of the internet and world wide web, to show how quickly scholars moved to take advantage of the new medium. The dates for these entries are in a green font.

Before 1990

  • April 7, 1969. First Request for Comments (RFC) published by Steve Crocker, triggering a long series of free online documents on the development of the internet. See these details on the history of RFCs.
  • August 30, 1969. Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) launched by the U.S. Department of Defense. It ceased operation in 1990. See these details on ARPANET's history.
  • 1979. USENET launched by Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis, Steve Bellovin, and Steve Daniel. See these details on USENET's history.
  • May 5, 1981. Because It's Time Network (BITNET) launched with a link between Yale and the City University of New York. See these details on BITNET's history.
  • January 1, 1983. ARPANET switched from the NCP protocol to TCP/IP, marking what many consider to be the birth of the internet. See these details on the planning for this transition.
  • July 1987. Perseus Project launched on CD's (not free until it moved to the web in [#1994 1994]).
  • November 1987. The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) was launched by a group of humanities scholars, librarians, and computer scientists at a meeting at Vassar College. See these details on the history of TEI.
  • June 1989. Eddy van der Maarel and most of his editorial board resigned from Vegetatio in order to launch the Journal of Vegetation Science. See Journal declarations of independence.


  • 1990. Hytelnet launched by Peter Scott. (The first online hypertext internet directory, noted especially for its links to network-accessible library catalogues.)
  • September 30, 1990. Postmodern Culture launched by Eyal Amiran, Greg Dawes, Elaine Orr, and John Unsworth. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.) See these details on PMC's history.


  • 1991. Gopher launched by Paul Lindner and Mark McCahill.
  • 1991. Surfaces launched by Jean-Claude Guèdon. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.)
  • April 1991. EJournal launched by Edward M. Jennings. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.) See these details on EJ's history.
  • May 17, 1991. World Wide Web standard released by CERN and Tim Berners-Lee.
  • July 10, 1991. The Mathematical Physics Preprint Archive or mp_arc was launched by H. Koch, R. de la Llave, and C. Radin at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • August 16, 1991. arXiv launched by Paul Ginsparg, originally hosted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). It is now hosted by Cornell University.


  • 1992. Ibiblio launched, originally as the SunSite repository of public domain source code. It adopted its current name in September 2000.
  • March 1992. The Logic Journal of the IGPL launched by the Interest Group in Pure and Applied Logics. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.)


  • 1993. Network Entrez launched, replacing priced CD's with free network access (pre-web).
  • February 1993. National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and Marc Andreesen released the alpha version of Mosaic.
  • April 30, 1993. CERN announced (Page 1, Page 2) that it was putting the basic web software into the public domain, relinquishing all intellectual property rights to it, and granting permission for all to "use, duplicate, modify and redistribute" it without charge. The signatures on this historic document are W. Hoogland, Director of Research, and H. Weber, Director of Administration.


  • 1994. HighWire Press launched by the Stanford University Libraries (fall or winter).
  • 1994. Perseus Project launched its free web version (formerly limited to priced CD's).
  • January 16, 1994. Wide Area Technical Report Service (WATERS) launched on the web by the Computer Science Departments of Old Dominion University, SUNY Buffalo, University of Virginia, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. (It emerged from discussions at the 1992 Snowbird Conference for Computer Science Department Heads and may have had a pre-web incarnation but I'm still investigating that.) See these details on WATERS' history.
  • March 1994. The National Academies Press started the practice of creating free online full-text editions of all its priced, printed books, and documenting that the former help sell the latter.
  • June 1994. NASA Technical Report Server (NTRS) launched by NASA, to search the many distributed LTRS-inspired digital libraries at the agency. The NTRS became OAI-compliant in May 2003.
  • August 1994. Information Bulletin on Variable Stars demo launched at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. A few months later the electronic version of the small journal started regular service. Published by Konkoly Observatory, Budapest, Hungary.
  • November 28, 1994. Florida Entomologist, a print journal launched in 1917, converted to open access. By April 27, 1999, all back issues to 1917 were also open access.


  • 1995. Jusline, an open access portal to German law and legal scholarship, launched by Norbert Gugerbauer.
  • April, 1995. Information Research launched by T.D. Wilson. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.)
  • Fall 1995. Making of America launched by the University of Michigan and Cornell University with funding from the Mellon Foundation.


  • February 1996. Romanticism on the Net launched by Michael Eberle-Sinatra. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal.)
  • February 28, 1996. Participants at the International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing issued the Bermuda principles, asserting that "all human genomic sequence information, generated by centres funded for large-scale human sequencing, should be freely available and in the public domain". The U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) adopted the Bermuda principles as policy for all US-funded research on April 9, 1996.
  • May 10, 1996. The Nordic Journal of Philosophical Logic published its first issue. (An early free online peer-reviewed journal with a priced print edition.) It had to cease publishing its open-access edition in January 2003.


  • March 1997. SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) was launched by the São Paulo Science Foundation (FAPESP) and the Latin America and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (BIREME). See these details on SciELO's history. Wikidata: Q7433389.
  • March 21, 1997. The Making of America digital library at the University of Michigan first announced in a message from John Price-Wilkin to the DigLib mailing list.
  • August 19, 1997. CogPrints launched by Stevan Harnad.
  • September 1997. Slashdot launched by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda. Many consider Slashdot to be the first blog.
  • September 1997. CiteSeer (sometimes called ResearchIndex) launched by Kurt Bollacker, Lee Giles, and Steve Lawrence of NEC Research Institute. The research project began in June 1997; it became operational within NEC in September 1997; and it opened to the public in the spring of 1998.


  • January 1998. A group of classics scholars launched Suda On Line, a collaborative open-access translation of the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia.
  • August 25, 1998. The September98Forum (later called the American Scientist Open Access Forum) launched by American Scientist, moderated by Stevan Harnad.
  • November 1998. Michael Rosenzweig and the rest of his editorial board resigned from Evolutionary Ecology in order to create Evolutionary Ecology Research. See Journal declarations of independence.


  • 1999. The reveus.org launched. A French portal of books and journals online, specialising in social sciences, and humanities.
  • April 1, 1999. First Polish open journal for librarians Bulletin EBIB was launched by Aleksander Radwański, Bożena Bednarek-Michalska, Anna Filipowicz and other librarians at the National Library in Warsaw.
  • October 21, 1999. The Universal Preprint Service (UPS) prototype was unveiled for study and discussion at the Sante Fe meeting (October 21-22, 1999). The UPS eventually evolved into the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). See these details on the history of the UPS.