17 November 1988: system administrator Piet Beertema received an e-mail that day that CWI had official access to an academic computer network that was part of the internet.
Using the brand-new connection, Steven Pemberton logged on to an American computer from CWI, not knowing he was making history by doing so. For the first time, people could send each other mail directly over the internet. It had previously been possible to send electronic messages, but it was incredibly slow, via a regular phone line. All messages then ended up in a digital mailbox, which forwarded mails to recipients once or twice a day. From 17 November 1988, a new era dawned in which these messages reached the recipient within seconds.
Until then, the Americans and Canadians were the only ones in the world using public Internet. Then the Netherlands followed. First mainly universities and research institutes used the connection, five years later anyone with a computer could go online.