In a digital era where connectivity and technology are terms as ubiquitous as food and water, it’s easy to take the Internet for granted and not pay it any more mind beyond your latest tweet. In fact, relatively few people really understand what the Internet is, no less the origins of the world wide web or how it has grown over time to reach its current capabilities.
Although this information might strike you as irrelevant, it might be wise to take minute and learn the basics just as you should understand the fundamentals of a car, considering that the Internet will undoubtedly be the tool that defines the 21st century.
Birth of “The Net”
Conceptualization – The Internet was conceived in 1962 by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT as a “Galactic Network” that would connect a group of computers so they may access data and programs regardless of where a single computer was located.
Experimentation – After MIT researchers Leonard Kleinrock and Lawrence G. Roberts expanded upon Licklider’s idea and theorized the feasibility of such an invention, they managed to successfully link two computers from Massachusetts to California via a low speed dial-up telephone line in 1965.
Development – By 1968 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, guided the technology and its development under the project name ARPANET and honed the boarder aspects of the project, such as its structural and technical parameters, architectural designs, and key components like the Interface Message Processors (IMP).
Inception – After the very first host computer was connected to the first node at UCLA in 1969, the Stanford Research Institute connected and host-to-host messaging was born. Following this with the addition of two nodes that dealt with application visualization projects, four host computers were connected to ARPANET.
Sophistication – As more and more computers were added to the network, function and utilization was the focus for improvements. Software was subsequently devised and the Network Control Protocol (NCP) was implemented, thus leading to the need for more applications. In 1972, the budding network saw its culmination in the construction of the ultimate coordination tool– electronic mail.
Integration – Soon the ultimate goal of ARPANET turned to incorporating other separate networks through the foundational idea of Internetworking Architecture where they may be independently designed for a unique interface. This would be referred to as “internetting” and throughout the late ‘70s and early 80’s there would be extensive development of LANS, PC’s and workstations that would not just lead to more networks, but to more modifications of the initial model.
Evolution – As the Internet grew, so did the progressive management issues; in particular were the router insufficiencies, the transition to the Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol, and problems regarding a single table for every host after they all were assigned names for easier public use. This latter was accommodated by the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS) that would mitigate the task by properly distributing hierarchical host names into Internet addresses.
Mainstream – By the mid 90’s, the Internet was a respected and well-supported technology that was embraced not only by those in the research communities, but the mainstream masses for personal communicative uses too.
What Brought About the World Wide Web
Documentation – One of the key factors in the successful building of the Internet into what it is now was the free promotion and sharing of research and data. The new, dynamic, and real-time exchange of knowledge was critical to the concept of an online, interconnected community.
Community – Though the Internet was established by those in academia, it was the efficient transmittance of ideas that allowed the common man to become engaged and help build it with his public presence. By creating a widespread community, they also created a widespread dialogue and their peer-to-peer relationships helped drive the technology forward.
Commercialization – As vendors began to supply the network products, and the service providers the internet connections, we have seen a shift in the popular demand that now treats the technology much like a physical commodity due to the systemic use of browsers and search engines and the World Wide Web for commercial purposes.
Tool of The 21st Century
What once began as a data communications network and evolved into a global information infrastructure is now a technology that manifests itself in every person’s life. It dictates how we communicate as a society, how we learn, and how we will continue to evolve. You should take credence in the fact that knowing this brief history will help you understand the trajectory we are all on as a globalized, interconnected people.