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How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  815 ratings  ·  99 reviews
The internet was never intended for you, opines Brian McCullough in this lively narrative of an era that utterly transformed everything we thought we knew about technology. In How the Internet Happened, he chronicles the whole fascinating story for the first time, beginning in a dusty Illinois basement in 1993, when a group of college kids set off a once-in-an-epoch revolu ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Liveright
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  815 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How the Internet Happened (2018) by Brian McCullough is a really excellent look at how the commercial internet grew from the early 1990s until the launch of the iPhone. While writing the book McCullough recorded the interviews he did with people and released them as 'The Internet History Podcast'. Critically McCullough also founded and co-founded a number of companies so he really knows about his subject.

The books starts with the history of Mosaic and other early web browsers. Then Microsoft's r
Ian Stewart
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really entertaining history of the internet from ARPANET up to the launch of the iOS App Store. The wildest section being the dotcom bubble days. The one idea that jumped out at me the most was how wrong people often were about, well, everything. From Berners-Lee not seeing the value of images on the web, to various business models and bets. Lots of people were very right about many things but also really wrong. Interesting to see altogether.
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is what you get when white men write their own history.
JS is Reading
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly fun book to read - Brian has a really accessible writing style. I did not expect to read this book in it's entirety when I picked it up (I dip into a lot of books for work) but I flew through the 400 pages. Check it out if you loved Halt and Catch Fire.
Andrew Crivilare
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was an exciting way to reflect on the past 30 years of history. I loved every chapter!
David Webber
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If like me your first experience with the internet was a 2400 baud modem and CompuServe, this book will be a great walk down memory lane. From Prodigy and all those AOL disks, from hourly metered internet service to Blackberries and iPhones, from eBay and GeoCities, GIFs to browser wars - excellent stories abound. Also included is the interned stock/IPO craze and its effect on the industry, as well as winners and losers in the tech battles that shaped the internet. An excellent read for those wh ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who's ready for a little nostalgia? Brian McCullough, host of the Internet History podcast, here turns his research and many interviews in a compact history of how the tool of research scientists became the petri dish of 21st century life. This isn't a technical history of APRANET slowly maturing; rather, it's a popular history of how the Internet as most experienced it 'happened' -- how it emerged, how it took fire, how different products and services saw it rapidly grow in new ways and transfo ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is an amalgamation of biographies of most of the major internet related companies, from the very beginning up through the IPhone, told in a cohesive manner, and it's a really interesting look at the history of the internet. Mostly names I was familiar with, but a number of new ones as well.

As a good example of how well this story was told, think about whatever happened to Napster. Those of us of a certain age during this time remember downloading songs from Napster, and the ensuing legal f
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stem
This is a really neat book, focusing just as much on the business/economic aspects as the software and hardware ends of it. In many ways, it feels like it was designed specifically for me. I began actively engaging with the internet (or, at least, the World Wide Web) through the development of AIM and a number of web forums (mostly programmed by VBulletin) back in 2006. I went on to turn 13 and register for my Facebook account in 2008, the year the book's history ends. As such, the book ends exa ...more
Casey Lau
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
People have written about this era in pieces but no one has written about it in one book and I think it gives a good overview into this time even if you lived through it like I did. I wonder what the kids born in 2018 will think of it in 2038. A time capsule for sure and a well written one.
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
Maybe 3.5 stars. Beginning was especially dry, but I also knew a lot of the info already. Review to come.

You can see my review here:
Jim Coe
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding readable history of the internet

Nearing 70 years of age, I’ve lived through all of the tech epochs that McCullough describes but forgotten about. What a great comprehensive history of all you’ve known and forgotten in a very readable text with surprises aplenty.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book, explaining everything from the dot com bubble, first internet companies and to the early start of Google and Facebook. A must read for anyone having anything to do with any kind of internet business.
Aashrey Kapoor
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a regular listener of Brian McCullough's daily tech news and internet history podcasts - though a recent one. When he mentioned in one of his podcasts that he had written a book in the past, I was very intrigued.

In How the Internet Happened, Brian sets up the history of the web, the devices, and the people connecting it all together in an easy to read manner with plenty of interesting insights that keep engaging you. While reading this, I had this constant sense of thrill as he laid out th
Jowanza Joseph
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is the best book I've read in 2018.
Deane Barker
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a fun book, but I take exception with the first half of the title -- this is not "how the internet happened," which explains the qualifier "from Netscape to the iPhone." This is really about 13 years in the history of the web, mainly. "The Internet" dates to the 50s or the 60s, but this is a pretty interesting look at what most people understand to be the internet since the birth of the web.

The book concentrates on companies and products. Each chapter covers a couple, and all the familia
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was absolutely thrilled to win this breakdown of the internet's creation through a Goodreads giveaway! It was an interesting experience to read about history I've lived through, and I loved learning the creation stories for companies that have become so ubiquitous, such as Google, eBay, Netflix, etc. The AOL & Napster chapters were full of Millennial nostalgia for me, and I enjoyed the conversations that it inspired with my partner about our childhood experiences using these now defunct techno ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone is the result of Brian McCullough’s researching and hosting the Internet History Podcast for the last few years.

The book’s subtitle tells you a little bit of what the book does and doesn’t cover: This is not about building the network and connecting the academics in the 1960s and 1970s. It is not a social history of the Internet, nor does it cover much of the open-source movement that underlies so much of what the internet is today.

What you
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is generally a fascinating read, at least as far as it goes, and one that I'd recommend, though at times it feels a bit like something is missing. It's an impressively researched, compelling and gracefully articulated history of how the internet happened, for sure—or at least of how it happened to the business people who created and profited hugely by the digital products involved. As the story goes here, those seem to be the main (if not the only) people that it happened to. It's a story w ...more
I never know how I'm going to feel about non-fiction books when I pick them up, whether I enjoy the subject or not. They can often be dry, boring, slog-of-a-reads. That wasn't the case for me with Brian McCullough's How the Internet Happened.

McCullough takes us through the history of the internet from the founding of Netscape by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark all the way to the present day and the ubiquity of smart phones, which didn't hit their stride until 2007 with Apple's iPhone.

Tim Jin
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
​I have to agree with most reviewers of "How the Internet Happened" is a good informational book. As I lived through that era and also being disable, technology has always been the key component in my life. I could remembered in 1994-1995, going to my English teacher (Dr. Poff) and asking him what was the Internet and how do I get on it. Ever since then, I've always been connected. If it wasn't for my high school teacher, I probably could had figured it out, but those were some exciting times, t ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kudos to Brian McCullough for taking a subject that is at risk of being boring and turning it into one of my most interesting reads of 2019. I have always been fascinated by how quickly computers and the internet took over our modern world, and McCullough does a fantastic job of providing the right details so you get the main parts of the story. There were so many players and elements in this saga, and he still managed to bring it all together in a comprehensive and entertaining manner.

The most
Ursula Johnson
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, tech
The Rise of the Internet -Masterfully Told

This was a fascinating trip down memory lane for those of us old enough to remember the beginning of the Internet. I remember using and loving Netscape Navigator, before Internet Explorer became dominant. It's all here, from the beginnings in academia to the adoption of the masses: AOL, Myspace, the dotcom bubble and Web 2.0. All the major players are profiled as well, from Marc Andreesen to Marc Zuckerman. Expertly told and if you love audio, beautifull
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel old

I remember so many of the things discussed in this book. It makes me feel old. My life is history, apparently.

The book reads quickly, moving us through an internet genealogy. It’s part history, part chasing the roots of what we use every day.

If you lived it, you may look back fondly, but you’ll probably learn something new. If you’re too young to remember Netscape, this will ground you in where we started (well, yes, it started before that, just read the book).

It ends with a sense of
Ken Goldman
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great History of the Internet and how we got to where we are today

I first learned about Brian McCullough by listening to his informative technology podcast, Techmeme Ride Home. I was intrigued when he started to promote his book, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. Brian gives us the history and background of the internet, and all that has gone into it, in a very readable format. This is book provides great background, the good, the bad, and the ugly, on all the players we know or kne
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
-AOL gave out CDs with internet trial to everyone
-At one point, 50% of CDs had AOL logos on them
-“Have you ever done X? You Will, and the company that will bring it to you is AT&T”
—ex: Have you ever been to work in your flying car? You will.

-All search engines have the same content. Google just knows how to order the content best
-Eigenvalue of a weighted link matrix
-Citations linking to pages up rank
-Rank based on backlinks
-Built off contributions in Academia papers — the best (No
Peter Mendrela
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Books about science and technology are not my favorite, but I decided to give this one a chance. I am glad I did. Brian McCullough has done a marvelous job weaving together the tumultuous history of ideas, visionaries, and gadgets from ARPANET to smart phones. What's more, McCullough was able to articulate the often difficult scientific concepts and intricate financial machinations (which invariably accompanied each breakthrough) with clarity, cogency, and wit that even an ignoramus like myself ...more
Buddy Scalera
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about the history of the Internet. We all have this shared history, but author Brian McCullough documents it in vivid and fascinating detail.

The author is an excellent writer and knows how to craft a strong narrative. There are so many weird and wonderful characters from this time, so it's fascinating to learn about these important business and social stories.

Truly worth reading if you want to know how the Internet developed from humble and strange beginnings. I'm already lookin
Michael Mingo
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Given the author's background, it's not surprising, exactly, that this is a very company-centric history of the Internet era, but that does give me the feeling that of stuff (technologies, communities, legislation, etc) has been at most relegated to the background. Still, McCullough does provide some really interesting insights in between the litany if IPOs and product launches, like how the early success of eBay reveals a fundamental trust in strangers that underpins a lot of interactions on th ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book is very well researched, with lots of data about the companies and products mostly in the 1990s and first half of 2000s. It was interesting to read more details about the projects that I've heard about and a few that I've actually used. A big part was around the dot-com crash and the amount of money invested in those companies is incredible.
The history shows how a conceptually simple (although not an easy to come by) idea of computer networking has become very widespread and created hug
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“Perhaps the most incredible deal of the time was Excite@Home’s acquisition of Blue Mountain Arts for $740 million dollars in cash and stock. Excite@Home was a company formed when the broadband ISP @Home merged with the search portal Blue Mountain Arts operated the website, where users could send each other electronic greeting cards by email. That’s right. Bluemountain did nothing but send Grandma electronic “get-well-soon” greetings. But was getting 9 million unique users a month to do this, and at the time, traffic was the sine qua non for a Yahoo-chasing portal player like the Excite half of Excite@Home.50 As the New York Times noted in its article announcing the deal, Excite@Home “predicted that the acquisition would increase its audience by 40%, to encompass approximately 34% of Internet traffic.”51 So, Excite@Home was willing to pay $82 per user to attract additional eyeballs to its network of properties and try to keep pace in the portal race.” 0 likes
“They thought they’d make revenues from people making purchases. But they discovered people were less interested in shopping on the service than communicating. And they didn’t know how to charge for communications.” 0 likes
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