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The non-profit NLnet Foundation was formally started in 1989 as an independent legal entity, but incorporates networking activities which go back as early as 1982. The foundation (in Dutch called "Stichting NLnet" or shortly "NLnet") played a major role in raising the so-called pan-European "UNIX" Network and the commercial and public internet network provision in the Netherlands.

Some NLnet achievements are:

  • the first internet backbone in Holland,
  • the first local dial-in and ISDN infrastructure with full country coverage, and
  • the definition and implementation of a low cost connectivity structure.

These activities helped Amsterdam become the best connected exchange point for European internet traffic, and make the first connection to the open internet outside of the United States. NLnet and its international siblings that together formed the "EUnet" bootstrapped the internet in Europe and beyond. People like Teus Hagen, Jaap Akkerhuis (both inductees in the Internet Hall of Fame), Piet Beertema, Daniel Karrenberg (also part of the Internet Hall of Fame) and Ted Lindgreen, and the board members, volunteers and later employees of NLnet jointly played a major role in building the internet in Europe and beyond. .

In the summer of 1997, the Foundation sold its commercialized internet provision activities to UUNET (the internet subsidiary of WorldCom), which after a series of acquisitions and mergers ended up in today's Verizon. Since then, the foundation is a public benefit organisation that supports the development of the open internet.

A somewhat more elaborate description of the NLnet history can be found in the following articles:

Today, the Foundation still actively engages with the global internet community in many ways. The joint goal is to create a better, safer and more secure internet for tomorrow.