How the Internet Happened

How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone
by Brian McCullough
from Liveright / Norton

Tech-guru Brian McCullough delivers a rollicking history of the internet, why it exploded, and how it changed everything.

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 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 revolution with what would become the first “dot-com”.

Depicting the lives of now-famous innovators like Netscape’s Marc Andreessen and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, McCullough also reveals surprising quirks and unknown tales as he tracks both the technology and the culture around the internet’s rise. Cinematic in detail and unprecedented in scope, the result both enlightens and informs as it draws back the curtain on the new rhythm of disruption and innovation the internet fostered, and helps to redefine an era that changed every part of our lives.


“Most of the individual components of McCullough’s story, which closes with the arrival of the ‘completely, conceptually perfect’ iPhone in 2007, are well-documented, but few other histories of modern technology connect them so fluently. In this, the narrative resembles Steven Levy’s by now ancient Hackers (1984) and John Markoff’s more recent What the Dormouse Said (2005); it compares favorably to both. . . . A tasty, educational treat for tech heads and other web denizens.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A detailed and highly insightful overview of the influencers and ideas that have shaped the everyday technologies we take for granted, showing how the Internet has infiltrated our homes and lives to the degree it is today. . . . Tech enthusiasts and students of business, marketing, and ecommerce will benefit from the detailed chronicling of the early Internet days. Readers will delight in being reminded of long-forgotten platforms and in understanding how Internet evangelists, Wall Street, and the moneyed elite have shaped our online lives.” Library Journal (starred review)

“From the Netscape techquake to the succession of entrepreneurs who became rich and famous . . . Jeff Bezos, Steve Case, Jerry Yang, Pierre Omidyar, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg. We all know their stories. Or at least we believe we do. . . . McCullough . . . explain[s] how startups’ histories were interlocked and how entrepreneurs and CEOs battled one another not only on a technological and cultural playing field but in the financial markets too.” Wall Street Journal


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