Back in the 1970s, David Newbury’s dad, Paul, worked at Carnegie Mellon, one of the leading computer science schools in the country. This was in the very early years of the Internet, back when it was the secret and very small ARPANET, which had started in the late ’60s, with just four locations. By 1973, it had expanded to a small handful of government labs, research universities, and private companies—but still so few that the entire network could be mapped on a single sheet of paper.

Recently, Newbury found that map among his dad’s papers and posted it online. You can find Stanford, UCLA, Utah and UCSB, the original members, but by 1973, ARPANET had expanded east, to Case Western, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, and MIT. There are government labs, like Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Army’s Aberdeen Ballistic Research Lab, and private research organizations like MITRE and Xerox. 

The map Newbury found was printed in a report from the NASA Ames Research Center, which also included this map, showing the geographical spread of the network. (Thanks, Cameo Wood, for pointing this out!) 

The network, mapped.
The network, mapped. NASA

After Newbury posted his map, a couple of others showed up on the same thread. Here’s one of the original nodes:


And another early one:

ARPANET grew quickly, though. By 1977, here’s what the map looked like: 

ARPANET, 1977.
ARPANET, 1977. The Computer History Museum/Public domain

This map, though, came with a caveat. This was the “best information obtainable”—but perhaps not entirely accurate. Already the network was growing so wildly it was impossible to know exactly how far it stretched.