Amsterdam: fostering development of the Internet

The Dutch: Early innovators of the World Wide Web


The Dutch were early innovators in the development of the World Wide Web. Nikhef, the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics, launched one of the first World Wide Web servers back in 1992. Nikhef is still at Science Park Amsterdam today, cross-connected by dark fibre to Equinix AM3, alongside many other crucial network nodes such as the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), one of the busiest Internet peering points in the world.

The first transatlantic email

On 17th November 1988, the first transatlantic email was sent from Science Park Amsterdam. The message was transmitted from the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Sciences (CWI) to the American academic computer network NSFnet, the forerunner of today's Internet. Thus, what was arguably the first Internet connection between Europe and the United States was made.


Before that time, there were some European links with NSFnet's predecessor, ARPAnet, which was closely linked to the US Department of Defense and therefore private. The connection with NSFnet was one of the first steps toward the open Internet as we know it today.






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Digital gateway

Shortly after CWI was connected to the Internet, other academic and research institutions from the Netherlands and the rest of Europe followed. It wasn't until much later that commercial companies gained access. Consumers had to wait until 1993.


As the digital gateway to the US, the CWI became the most important European Internet exchange. In 1996, the institute transferred the exchange to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), Nikhef and SARA (now SURFsara). Today, AMS-IX is still the most important Internet exchange between Europe and the United States.

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