CWI celebrates 25 years of open Internet in Europe in November

On Sunday, 17 November at 2.28 PM (UTC+1) it is exactly twenty-five years ago that the Netherlands was connected to the Internet, as the first country in Europe.

Publication date: 04-11-2013

On Sunday, 17 November at 2.28 PM (UTC+1) it is exactly twenty-five years ago that the Netherlands was connected to the Internet, as the first country in Europe. System administrator Piet Beertema from research institute CWI – Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in Amsterdam – then received an e-mail, stating that CWI, as first organization outside the USA, officially gained access to NSFnet, an academic computer network that later evolved into the global Internet. CWI celebrates this anniversary during the event CWI in Business -  Innovation in ICT, organized on Friday, 22 November 2013. Here, a plaque will be unveiled on the location where the Dutch and European Internet began, 25 years ago.

After years of preparation (CWI was already the central node in the European 'EUnet' network), Beertema and his colleagues succeeded in 1988 to gain access to the - then American - internet, thanks to good contacts in the network world. American internet pioneer Rick Adams was Beertema's main contact to NSFnet. Not long after CWI was connected, other academic and research organizations in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe were joined, too. In the Netherlands, SURFnet also played an important role. Commercial companies followed later, and individuals even had to wait until 1993. CWI became an important network hub between Europe and the United States.

Nowadays, still a considerable part of the European internet traffic runs through Amsterdam Science Park, where CWI is located. This traffics flows through the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX). In 1999 Beertema received the first Royal Decoration ever awarded to an Internet pioneer: Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

More information: see www.godfatherof.nl.
Nikhef, located next to CWI at Amsterdam Science Park, also has a long history in the area of Internet and World Wide Web. See www.nikhef.nl.

Illustration 1: Internet pioneers Jaap Akkerhuis, Daniel Karrenberg, Teus Hagen, and Piet Beertema (CWI) at Piet Beertema's farewell party at CWI on the occassion of his retirement on 16 September 2004. Source: CWI.

Illustration 2: The e-mail about the first open transatlantic Internet connection between CWI and the United States . Source: Piet Beertema.

E-mail on the first open transatlantic Internet connection between CWI and the USA.