24 years of Croatian Internet

25. 11. 2016.

Internet in Croatia 1992 - 2016 - …

Twenty-four years ago, on 17 November 1992, a ceremony was held at the University of Zagreb's Rectorate building to officially launch the Croatian academic and research computer communication network, based on the Internet Protocol, and its connection to the global Internet network. This day is seen as the official date when the first nation-wide IP-based network established connection to the Internet.

The Internet connection that Croatia established with the world was the connection between the University of Zagreb's University Computing Centre (SRCE) and the University of Vienna, at the speed of 9.6 kbps (9600 bit/s). The connection was established as part of the project of building the national academic network.

The project was launched by the then Ministry of Science, Technology and Informatics in October 1991, during the war, with direct support from Professor Branko Jeren, PhD, who was Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Informatics at the time and later served as the Minister of Science and the Rector of the University of Zagreb. The Academic Network Committee was founded in autumn 1991. Chaired by Predrag Pale, M.Sc., of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, the Committee also consisted of Ivan Marić and Velimir Vujnović of the University Computing Centre, Darko Bulat of the Ruđer Bošković Institute and Ljubimko Šimičić of the University of Zagreb Faculty of Science. At its first meeting held on 3 October 1991, the Committee tasked SRCE with building and managing the network and providing customer support, recognizing SRCE as the institution whose tradition, achievements and capacities allowed it to ensure the success and sustainability of this large project. The network was later given a name: CARNet – Croatian Academic and Research Network.

Team leader who operatively executed this great job and operatively established the first Internet connection was Ivan Marić, who was the head of SRCE's Computer Network Department at the time and today holds the position of the Deputy Director and Chief Technology Officer at SRCE.

The first institutions that were part of the national academic and research network and used the international Internet network at SRCE included the Faculty of Economics in Osijek, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture in Split, Ruđer Bošković Institute, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Faculty of Science in Zagreb and the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka. Via a public computer at SRCE, all citizens of Croatia were also able to access the Internet.

Recalling the beginnings of the Internet in Croatia under Ivan Marić's leadership, we must not fail to mention the rest of SRCE's pioneer team that was building the Internet in Croatia from 1991 onward: Davorin Gabriel, systems engineer at SRCE; Josip Derado (currently teaching at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US); Marija Maletić (database analyst at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia); Stanka Gašić (Austrian Lottery in Vienna, Austria); Lada Smoljanović (Switzerland); Velimir Vujnović (Cisco in Sidney, Australia). Very soon upon graduating they had the opportunity to begin implementing (the services and applications) of the new (Internet) protocol at SRCE but also within the national network (which SRCE had built and managed over a long period of time). In the years that followed, new technology necessitated the hiring of additional staff at SRCE; thus Dobriša Dobrenić and Darija Meter were hired in 1992 and since then many young people have worked and work at SRCE. The new technology also led to a reorganization of SRCE at the time. We may freely say that a new, Internet age of SRCE began in those years. It was this young team that represented the heart of the new network team that launched the first wave of building the academic network – the installation of the national core (WAN) and city networks (MAN) in individual university cities.

In 1995, the Croatian Government passed the decision to establish the CARNet institution, but SRCE continued to build and manage the academic and research network until 2009 when SRCE's involvement in these activities ended.