Forbes magazine has published an interesting list of networking milestones that is of interest not only for individual selections (and omissions), but the breadth of their vision regarding what constitutes networking. Among the more interesting choices are the AIDS epidemic (1959) and the network of trolleys in the Northeast and Northcentral US (1917).
Conspicuous absences include Tim Berners-Lee's development of HTTP and the rise of Peer-to-Peer networking.
Pre WW-II milestones include:
1917 U.S. trolley industry reaches a peak with 1,000 companies running 26,000 miles of track. Interurban trolleys (as opposed to railroads) are so extensive that a passenger could use them to get from Portland, Me. to Sheboygan, Wis.
1920 Associated Press (founded in 1846) sends news over 103,000 miles of wire in North America and 9,700 miles of ocean cable.
1923 Interpol created under the name International Criminal Police Commission, as a network of crime fighters from 14 countries.
1925 Photos of Calvin Coolidge's inauguration sent by telephotography (faxed, as we say now) from Washington to other cities.
1927 National Broadcasting Co.'s coverage of Rose Bowl marks first ever coast-to-coast network radio broadcast.
1933 Radio Corp. of America tests first television relay system; signal travels 86 miles from the Empire State Building to Camden, N.J.
1938 During the Depression communist sympathizers peak at 100,000 in U.S. Soviet intelligence agents in U.S. and Britain recruit spy networks that later infiltrate Manhattan Project and code-breaking operations.
AT&T installs first coaxial cable for telecommunications.