The late eighties of the 20th century had found Croatia as a part of the former Yugoslavia, with relatively poorly developed national telecommunication infrastructure and absolutely no academic network infrastructure. Due to the extremely difficult economic situation, the academic and scientific community had almost no access to the international scientific publications as well as scarce resources for traveling.
CARNet initiators perceived the Internet, and computer networks in general, as the possible way around this crucial obstacle to scientific and professional activity and development.
In 1990, Croatia had declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia, which triggered military intervention of the former Yugoslavian army and eventually led to a full-blown war.
CARNet initiators had three guiding principles regarding the future of the country. Firstly, the future Croatian independence was to depend significantly upon the strength of its economy. Secondly, the modern economy was to be information-based and future industry was to heavily depend on the scope, level, intensity and quality of application of information technology. Thirdly, much as in developed and progressive countries, implementation and deployment of new technologies were to be trusted to scientific community.
Those three principles led to a natural conclusion that Croatia needed a change agent. As a step forward, the national computer network was to be built in the academic community. The community was supposed to use it for its own education and work as well as to gain experience in pilot projects in various areas of human activities, and then to use the gained knowledge, skills and experience in helping industry and society as a whole to embrace and leverage the information technology for the development and strengthening.
This conclusion had been made by a small group of very young scientists already involved in computer networking development and deployment on the small scale. They prepared a simple proposal and approached Ministry of Science and Technology (MST), basically advocating establishment of national educational and scientific computer network. The Ministry accepted the proposal, the initial group and project director had been appointed and the seed money of $ 1 million was allocated. The project was dubbed "Croatian Academic and Research Network — CARNet."
In the first year of the operation, basic computer infrastructure and connectivity for about 40% of the community were established and were included in the Internet. From that point on, the project grew significantly, not only in the number of institutions to be connected, but also in introducing new activities and services like education, information services, pilot projects, etc.
This required technological and organizational changes in the project, as well as repositioning the whole project within a more operational institution than the Ministry was.