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Nov. 2, 2019, 4:48 p.m. EDT · CORRECTED

The internet was born 50 years ago — this timeline tracks the rise of tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon

The first digital data transmission was sent between two computers half a century ago.

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By Nicole Lyn Pesce

A previous version of the graphic in this story misaligned the dates with some of the milestones for Google, Facebook and Twitter. The dates have been corrected.


Getty Images
The internet led to the dominance of tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

What a difference half a century makes.

On Oct. 29, 1969, a UCLA computer science professor and a graduate student sent the first digital transmission from their computer to another one at the Stanford Research Institute.

That first “L” and “O” (intended to be “login,” but the system crashed after sending the second letter of the word) sent across California through the ARPANET network of academic computers was the forerunner of the internet as we know it today.

That’s opened the door for the texts and DMs, emails and cloud services, web pages and social media accounts, online shopping sites, mobile banking, cat videos and all of the other online activity and transactions that have us staring at our screens for more than 11 hours a day.

The internet also launched the tech boom (and 2000 bust, and later resurrection) that has spawned the first trillion-dollar U.S. public companies in Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +1.11% , Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.70%  and Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.56% . It has led to the social media conundrum where people are more “connected” than ever, at least digitally — but also more exposed, through networks like Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +0.17% , Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +0.09%  and Snapchat /zigman2/quotes/205087158/composite SNAP +4.71% . Companies like Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +1.98%  have become a verb. And streaming services such as Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +0.31% and Hulu have ushered in watching movies and TV on demand from anywhere, leading many cable customers to cut the cord — and spurring a battle of the streaming services that sees Disney /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -0.54%  and Apple launching their own in November.

Here’s a look at how the internet gave birth to the FAANG stocks, and some highlights along the way that have defined modern life as we know it.

/zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 318.73
+3.49 +1.11%
Volume: 34.45M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
26.89
Dividend Yield
0.97%
Market Cap
$1397.32 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.98M
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/zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 1,864.72
-13.22 -0.70%
Volume: 4.00M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
82.56
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$924.52 billion
Rev. per Employee
$359,671
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/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 167.10
+0.93 +0.56%
Volume: 34.37M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
31.47
Dividend Yield
1.22%
Market Cap
$1274.77 billion
Rev. per Employee
$902,473
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/zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 222.14
+0.37 +0.17%
Volume: 15.91M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
35.48
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$633.65 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.57M
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/zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 34.22
+0.03 +0.09%
Volume: 19.30M
Jan. 17, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
16.72
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$26.57 billion
Rev. per Employee
$776,112
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/zigman2/quotes/205087158/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 19.11
+0.86 +4.71%
Volume: 46.32M
Jan. 17, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$26.75 billion
Rev. per Employee
$409,309
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/zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 1,480.39
+28.69 +1.98%
Volume: 2.40M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
31.77
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1000.74 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.39M
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/zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 339.67
+1.05 +0.31%
Volume: 6.07M
Jan. 17, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
108.41
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$148.86 billion
Rev. per Employee
$2.22M
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/zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 144.33
-0.79 -0.54%
Volume: 10.36M
Jan. 17, 2020 6:30p
P/E Ratio
20.74
Dividend Yield
1.22%
Market Cap
$260.14 billion
Rev. per Employee
$295,532
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