Short for National Science Foundation Network. NSFNET is a wide area network started by the NSF (National Science Foundation) that handled a bulk of early Internet traffic. It went online in 1986 and during the late 1980s and early 1990s was a crucial backbone to ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and the Internet. During 1990 and 1991, NSFNET was restructured and created a not-for-profit entity and a for-profit subsidiary for commercial development of the network.
On April 30, 1995, NSF removed the NSFNET from the Internet but continued as a separate network for further research and development. After being shut down, this allowed more commercial companies to operate and expand on the Internet and helped started the dot-com boom.