NR was established in 1952. Until 1970 an important part of the activity was to perform mathematical computations for other organizations. After 1970 NR has been a methodological research institute. In 1985, NR became an independent institute and moved to its present location in 1988.
NR is famous for inventing the first object oriented programming language Simula in the 1960s. NR has worked with data communication since 1963, the Internet since 1973, ICT security since 1988, multimedia since 1994 and e-Inclusion since 2005. NR started working with statistics in 1952, remote sensing in 1982, geostatistics and petroleum in 1983, marine resources in 1988 and electricity prices and finance in 1994.