Invention of the Internet
Many people think that the Internet is a recent innovation, when in
fact the fundamental ideas behind the Internet have been around for
over a quarter century.
The development of what we now call the Internet started in 1957
when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite,
beating the United States into space. The powers behind the
American military at the time became highly alarmed as this meant
that the USSR could theoretically launch bombs into space, and then
drop them anywhere on earth. In 1958 the concerns of people in the
US military triggered the creation of the Defence Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA).
DARPA's initial role was to jump start American research in
technology, find safeguards against a space-based missile attack
and to reclaim the technological lead from the USSR. After only 18
months after the creation of DARPA, the Defence Advanced Research
Projects Agency had developed and deployed the first US satellite.
DARPA went on to have a direct contribution to the development of
the Internet by appointing Joseph Licklider to head the new
Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO).
It was the job of the IPTO to further the work previously done
by members of the "SAGE" (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment)
program and develop technologies to protect the US against a
space-based nuclear attack.
Licklider envisaged the potential benefits of a countrywide
communications network, influencing his successors to implement his
vision and to hire Lawrence Roberts who at that time was carrying
out research with networks which was also being funded by
Roberts led development of the ARPANet network architecture, and
based it on the new idea of packet switching. A special computer
called an Interface Message Processor was developed to realise the
design. The ARPANet first went live in October 1969, with
communications between the University of California in Los Angeles
and the Stanford Research Institute.
The first networking protocol used on the ARPANet was the
Network Control Program. In 1983, it was replaced with the TCP/IP
protocol, which is still the standard used today.
In 1990, the National Science Foundation took over management of
what was then called the NSFNet, and significantly expanded its
reach by connecting it to the CSNET in Universities throughout
North America, and later to the EUnet throughout research
facilities in Europe.
Thanks in large part to the NSF's free-thinking management, and
the growing popularity of the web, the nature of the Internet
changed quickly in 1992, when the U.S. government began pulling out
of network management and commercial entities offered Internet
access to the general public for the first time. This change marked
the beginning of the Internet's astonishing expansion. According to
a survey conducted by CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research in
1997, the number of users worldwide was believed to be well into
the tens of millions. The so called Internet explosion coincided
with the advent of increasingly powerful yet reasonably priced
personal computers with easy-to-use GUI's (Graphical User
Interfaces). The result was an attraction of recent computer
converts to the Internet, and new multimedia capabilities, the
size, scope and design of which allows users to:
connect easily through ordinary personal computers
exchange electronic mail with friends and colleagues
post and update frequently, information for others to
access multimedia information that includes sound, photographic
images and video
access diverse attitudes and perspectives from around the
to directly and transparently communicate between
Today, the Internet is not owned or funded by any one
institution, organisation, or government, it is a self-sustaining
widespread information infrastructure accessible to hundreds of
millions of people world-wide. The Internet is, however, directed
by the Internet Society (ISOC), which is composed of volunteers.
ISOC appoints the IAB (Internet Architecture Board) sub-council,
the appointed members of which decide on standards, network
resources, and network addresses. The day-to-day issues of Internet
operation is taken care by of curtsy of a volunteer group called
the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force).
In brief a small number of governing boards work to establish
common standards, few rules or single organisation bind the
Internet, essentially the Internet is in the most part an
ungoverned global network of networks.
The Internet was invented by the US Department of Defence as a
means of communication if we were attacked by Russia. That was in
1969. The WWW on the other hand was invented by an Englishman
called Tim Berners-Lee in Switzerland in 1989. The Internet dates
back to the 1950s and 60s, although few of us knew of it then as it
was part of the American defence system.
Some say development started in 1957 when the Soviet Union
launched Sputnik 1, the first satellite.
I think it's the difference between pop culture and invention
that confuses people. The origins of the Internet stretch back to
the 1950s and the invention of the World Wide Web to 1989, but the
Internet IS a newish innovation as far as pop culture is concerned
as it only really kicked into the lives of the vast majority of us
after the 1989 invention of WWW.
DARPA was created in 1958. But this only started the research
that led to create the Internet. The Network Control Protocol (NCP)
was finalized and deployed in December 1970 by the Network Working
Group (NWG), led by Steve Crocker. But it was not until RFC 768
"User Datagram Protocol", RFC 791 "Internet Protocol", RFC 792
"Internet Control Message Protocol, RFC 793 "Transmission Control
Protocol" were ratified in 1980 and 1981 that the Internet took
shape. Modern protocols like e-mail, ftp, telnet, http ... all
depend on these underlying protocols. The ARPANET host protocol was
switched from NCP to TCP/IP as of January 1, 1983. The underlying
protocols that run the Internet have fundamentally changed since
this date. Much later on Mar. 11, 1999 Al Gore claims to have
invented the Internet: "During my service in the United States
Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
The seed of what would become the internet was created by
ARPANET in 1969. It was basically a group of researchers working
for the Department of Defense.