In the beginning, the internet was borderless. The first example of inter-netting, in 1977, connected computers in the U.S. the U.K. and Norway.
In 1991, Tim Berners Lee created the first web page along with all the supporting protocols to make it easy for anyone to access the internet by just pointing and clicking. The web was created as a research project at CERN, the physics research institution in Switzerland.
In trying to understand DNS better, I stumbled upon this little bit of history in RFC 1034:
RFC 1034 Domain Concepts and Facilities November 1987
2.1. The history of domain names
The impetus for the development of the domain system was growth in the Internet: Host name to address mappings were maintained by the Network Information Center (NIC) in a single file (HOSTS.TXT) which was FTPed by all hosts [RFC-952, RFC-953].