ESnet History

Although officially formed in 1986, ESnet’s roots stretch back to the mid-1970s, when staff at the CTR Computer Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory installed four acoustic modems on a borrowed Control Data Corp. 6600 computer. 

Since those days, the network now known as ESnet has marked many milestones and is today one of the world’s premier networks supporting scientific research around the globe. 

To learn more about ESnet's history, scroll down to view our interactive timeline or experience the timeline in full-screen mode.

Historical Highlights

In 2018, the Department of Energy's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research marked 40 years of support for high-performance networking and computing by preparing a series of highlights. ESnet provides the following highlights of networking-related research:

Algorithms to keep the Internet from collapsing: In 1986, the burgeoning Internet was nearly two decades old and had 10,000 users. It was also facing imminent collapse due to network congestion. Van Jacobson, a network researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, dove into the problem and co-authored the solution that is still in use today. At that time, ESnet was in its infancy and Berkeley Lab staff were among those helping to shape networking protocols and infrastructure. Read the full highlight.

ESnet’s Science DMZ Breaking Down Data Barriers, Speeding up Science: From individual universities around the country to a consortium of research institutions stretching the length of the west coast of the United States, networking teams are deploying an infrastructure architecture known as the Science DMZ developed by the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet ) to help researchers make productive use of ever-increasing science data flows. Read the full highlight.

Using Software to Better Define Network Functionality: Tracing its roots back to the days of dial-up modems in the 1970s, ESnet has consistently worked to make the network faster and more robust. Typically this has been done by taking advantage of new data transfer technologies and upgraded hardware. But with the emergence of software-defined networking over the past decade, ESnet is pioneering new possibilities for automatable networking in real time. Read the full highlight.