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How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,175 ratings  ·  137 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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 ·  1,175 ratings  ·  137 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.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
More a look at the internet era as opposed to literally how the internet happened, but informative and interesting nonetheless.
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. ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was ok

This is not a book about how the internet happened. It's a book about several internet startups and the internet stock bubble of the early 2000's.

Part of the issue is expectation, as I naively assumed this would be a book that covered some aspects of the actually creation of the internet that Al Gore so famously invented. Sarcasm in case that didn't carry, but even so, the story of how the internet came to be is one I'm interested in hearing. Unfortunately after finishing this book, I'm sti
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. ...more
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
Jul 17, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2019-20
For the March Book Club I read How the Internet Happened From Netscape to iPhone by Brian McCullough. McCullough believes the human desire for communication was a common theme in the development of the early internet. The internet provider AOL became popular in the 90s in part due to their chat rooms and Instant Messenger program. Social Networks Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook went further, developing a whole ecosystem for Humans to connect with one another. The ability to instantly consume n ...more
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
Shantanu Gangal
Apr 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Chris Dixon recommended How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone.
It is a terrific and dense history lesson of the 90s & 00s; that's the book review.

Further it was very thought-provoking to read it from the perspective of growing up in India,
1. While the US had significant PC adoption before the browsers came along, most Indians got the PC+internet+web together. Jio has taken bundled things further and Ambani might finally build Gates' Information Superhighway.

2. The 90s intern
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
This is a fantastic read for anyone interested in finding out if Al Gore really did invent the internet or not...

Well, ok, it's not that. However, it is a fantastic read. It's very interesting and well written, not overly technical or academic. And, I admit, it was a nice walk memory lane, all these inventions and programs that I had kind of forgotten.

The book gives a very concise history of the internet, but it's not just geek fest of the technological road to where we are today. It provides c
John Biddle
Jun 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
A well told history of the major events, companies and people who made the internet into what it is today. This is the story of the commercial internet, not the technological internet. It starts off with the story of Netscape and how its browser Navigator enabled ordinary folks to use the web, only just created by Tim Berners-Lee.

The arpanet of scientists and defense dept analysts was turned into a commercial space and an entertainment space for millions then billions. What were the ideas that m
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
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