The company was founded in 1984 and went public in 1990. During the peak of the dot com boom, Cisco was the most valuable company in the world. Cisco is known for utilizing extensive acquisitions to fuel their growth.

Cisco Systems develops and sells networking and systems communications technology products and services. Based in San Jose, California, Cisco Systems has 3 main brands that they promote: Cisco, Linksys and Scientific Atlanta. While they originally specialized in the enterprise (business) market, Cisco has branched into the home networking market as well.

In 1993, Cisco embarked on an initiative to design practical, cost-effective networks. It quickly became apparent that designing and installing the networks was not enough, schools also needed some way to maintain the networks after they were up and running. Cisco Senior Consulting Engineer George Ward developed training for teachers and staff for maintenance of school networks. The students in particular were eager to learn and the demand was such that it led to the creation of Cisco Networking Academy.

Cisco Networking Academy, established in 1997, teaches students networking and other information technology-related skills, preparing them for jobs as well as for higher education in engineering, computer science and related fields. Since its launch, the program has grown to more than 9,000 Academies in 50 U.S. states and more than 165 countries with a curriculum taught in 16 different languages. More than 900,000 students participate in Academies operating in colleges and universities, technical schools, community-based organizations, and other educational programs around the world. Networking Academy blends face- to-face teaching with web-based curriculum, hands-on lab exercises, and Internet- based assessment.

Since 2003 in Spain Networking Academy has formed partnerships with the respective Open Universities of various countries to offer a blended 'at home' with a small proportion of 'in class' work.