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35 years ago Italy connected to Internet

Thirty five years of Internet

It seems incredible to think it today, but only thirty six years ago Internet didn’t exist. Thirty five years ago there was the first Ping in the beautiful country. Thirty five years ago Italia connected to Internet. How many things we did in these years. Let’s discover together the story that brought to the advent of Internet in Italy.

The first italian Ping

We are in the Cnuce, the National Universitary Center for the Electronic Calculation, of the Cnr of Pisa. It’s the 1986, exactly the 30th of april. There is big bustle inside the universitary center because the one of today it’s a day that will make history.

Cnuce of the Crn of Pisa
Inside the Cnuce of the Crn of Pisa

The first italian Ping was made that day and it reached the Pennsylvania, 7000 kilometers away, in a moment. Today it’s normal to reach the other side of the world in a moment, but back in that time it was an extraordinary event.

About the big stories there is always the wish to know the first step. It is like the myth of Prometeus”. – Stefano Trumpy, the then director of the Cnuce.

To the other side in Pennsylvania there was a group of scientists, which purpose was the one to contact the italian colleagues through the electronic mail service. Exactly the same purpose of the italian colleagues.

The America, though, already celebrated its first Ping many years before. In the 1969 there was the first connection between two computers. But here it was about getting through the whole ocean, until the old continent.

The advent of Internet

They were the years of the advent of Internet, that, though, wasn’t called Internet yet.

L'avvento di Internet
Internet was born in the 1969, but its name was Arpanet

Its name, in the ’80s was Arpanet (Advanced Research Project Agency NETwork). The network was realized by the then DARPA (the agency of the defence department of the United States). Its purpose was the one to create a technology for the military defence.

Internet was born as an instrument for the military communication and the defence of the United States in the middle of the Cold War. Probably at that time no one thought that it would become a network that connects the whole world.

Arpanet became Internet only in the very first ’90s, after that Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web.

Internet in Italy

But let’s come back in Italy, in Pisa, in the 1986. At that time in the university there were Stefano Trumpy, director of the Cnuce, Luciano Lenzini, scientists and “architect” of the project to connect the Italy to internet, Antonio Blasco Bonito and Marco Sommani.

Cnuce of the Crn of Pisa
Inside the Cnuce of the Crn of Pisa

These are the names of the ones that brought the internet network in Italy. At that time connect it was complicated, because there wasn’t a real “network” yet.

For the project the scientists used the atlantic satellitar network Satnet.

The European success and the birth of the domain.it

It wasn’t only an italian success, but an european one. Very few, infact, were already able to connect to the primordial network. Before of us only the United Kingdom, Norway and Germany.

The year after the first italian Ping it was recorded the first domain .it. The request was made the 23rd of december of the 1987 and the domain became active the 1° of january of the 1988. The name recorded was cnuce.cnr.it.

It was the first name of the register of the italian internet names, register that is still managed by the Cnr of Pisa. Today, thirty years after the advent of Intenet in Italy, the register counts 3 million and 400 thousands domains .it.

No one, or almost no one, heard about the event

Even though that day of thirty five years ago they wrote the history, no one knew about the event. Or almost no one. In the scientifical and technological world the new made many happy, but the new wasn’t able to leave the field.

And it wasn’t because no one knew what Internet was, which was a reason too.

The main reason it was that the new was obscured by an event as much important, but in negative.

The 26th of april of the 1986, only 4 days before the first italian Ping, there was an accident to the reactor of the nuclear plant of Chernobyl. All Europa was in tension for the one that was the worst nuclear accident in the human history, and the scientists were able to tell about their success only a long time after.

This post is also available in: Italiano