The first node went live at UCLA on October 29, 1969 on what would be called the ARPANET, the "eve" network of today's Internet.
The first TCP/IP wide area network was operational by 1 January 1983 , when the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet. (This date is held by some to be technically that of the birth of the Internet.) It was then followed by the opening of the network to commercial interests in 1995. Important separate networks that offered gateways into, then later merged into the NSFNet include Usenet, Bitnet and the various commercial and educational X.25 Compuserve and JANET. Telenet (later called Sprintnet), was a large privately-funded national computer network with free dialup access in cities throughout the U.S. that had been in operation since the 1970s. This network eventually merged with the others in the 1990s as the TCP/IP protocol became increasingly popular. The ability of TCP/IP to work over these pre-existing communication networks allowed for a great ease of growth. Use of Internet as a phrase to describe a single global TCP/IP network originated around this time.
The network gained a public face in the 1990s. In August 1991 CERN, which straddles the border between France and Switzerland publicized the new World Wide Web project, two years after Tim Berners-Lee had begun creating HTML, HTTP and the first few web pages at CERN. In 1993 the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign released the Mosaic web browser version 1.0, and by late 1994 there was growing public interest in the previously academic/technical Internet. By 1996 the word "Internet" was common public currency, but it referred almost entirely to the World Wide Web.