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20 years since Internet came to Estonia

Precisely 20 years ago today Estonia established its first Internet connection with the outside world. Previously people in Estonia could only send and receive e-mails via slow modem connections by making international calls to Finland. Such a solution was both complicated and inadequate because it excluded a wide range of Internet possibilities.
“The last straw was my amazing attempt to retrieve via a modem connection the list of software from the public file server of the Helsinki University of Technology. The process of receiving the corresponding e-mail dragged on for 8 hours, so my international phone call also amounted to 8 hours and during that time I could not send or get another e-mail. On this day 20 years ago the resulting project launched the first proper Internet connection in Estonia. It was a satellite connection between Tallinn and Stockholm and it was 8 times faster than the previous connections,” said Jaak Lippmaa, Member of the Board of the Estonian Internet Foundation who at that time participated in creating and setting up the Internet connection channels. 

“Our first Internet connections with the outside world became reality owing to the cooperation between the Institute of Chemical and Biological Physics, the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and the Swedish National Space Board. One month later we established a satellite connection between Stockholm and the Tähetorn Observatory in Tartu because at that time there was no Internet connection between Tallinn and Tartu. The project was financed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and philanthropist George Soros who understood the utmost importance of such connections in the context of building an open and democratic state. Those satellite communications allowed us to establish data exchange connections with the outside world without any interference from the Soviet Union and its legal successors, which was at that time of course a vital factor in the restoration of Estonia’s independence,” added Lippmaa. 

Those first connections stimulated rapid proliferation of the Internet in Estonia. First .ee domain names began appearing after registration of the .ee top-level domain in June 1992. The first locally based .ee domain name server was launched on 15 July 1992.

In 2009 administration of the .ee top-level domain and the corresponding infrastructure was entrusted to the new Estonian Internet Foundation, a self-financing organisation founded by the Government of the Republic and the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications solely for this task.

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