Happy birthday as Australia's internet turns 25 years old

IN JUST one generation, Australia went from hearing its first internet "ping" at a southern university to embracing the technology for almost every possible purpose.

Tuesday marked 25 years to the day since internet arrived in Australia, first transmitted directly from Hawaii to the University of Melbourne on June 24, 1989.

At that time it was mostly bulletin boards and software updates enjoyed almost exclusively by academics.

Professor Justin Zobel from the University of Melbourne's department of computing and information systems remembers being wowed by its comparatively tiny capacity.

He said he was in awe that Australia downloaded the equivalent of the King James Bible each day - about 4MB.

For perspective, that is less than a single higher definition photo attached to an email today.

"In the early 90s, I think there was a gradual sense of shock that this community of people who knew each other, was slowly being taken over by the public," Prof Zobel said.

"I don't think anyone foresaw the internet being used illegally, for pornography or stolen music or things of that kind."

Prof Zobel said he loved the use of email, being able to correspond without having to talk on the phone.

"I may now get hundreds of emails on a typical day but I couldn't cope with hundreds of telephone calls."