The Invention of Internet Essay

Introduction and thesis statement, events that led to the advancement of the internet, effects of advancement of the internet, evolution if the advancement the internet.

Internet is a communication tool that has enabled the entire world to become like a village. This is because with internet people from all corners of the world can reach each other in less than a minute. Internet was invented, and it required people to have computers to get its access.

With internet, people who work or study abroad can talk to their family members almost anytime. This is due to low cost of making telephone calls through the internet (Abbate, 2000). In fact, internet has saved a lot of resources for both individuals and governments.

This is due to the ease of sending and receiving information from their accomplices or business partners from all over the world. For instance, governments used to spend a lot of money in air tickets as their officials went around the world looking for potential business or development partners. Invention of the internet has made work easy because ministry officials can make deals over internet enabled calls. In addition, today one is able to make video calls with the aid of various internet applications.

This means that the internet is an essential communication tool that has transformed the whole world in terms of accessibility (Aspray, 2008). Development in the internet is continuously advancing as several mobile gadgets have been developed to enable more people to access internet. This ranges from the use of laptops which are portable computers to hand devices such as mobile phones.

Several events led to the advancement of the internet in the world today. All these events revolve around the fact that everyone wanted easy and cheap modes of communication. As the world developed and people started migrating from their homes to other countries and continents in the world, they needed to communicate with people back at home.

Therefore, this led to the advancement in the internet to enable them to communicate effectively with people back at their homes. In addition, the development of the digital world played a crucial role in development and advancement, in internet.

This means that due to the creation of digital images and other effects that could be translated electronically; it was vital to advance internet. This was vital because people required sending and receiving photos and other data through the internet. Many countries in the world came up with strategies of ensuring that computer applications studies are compulsory in their public and private institutions (Hewson, 2002).

The level of computer literacy in the world played a leading role in the advancement of internet as teachers and students wanted to get the information online. In fact, it is easier to get information from internet compared to going through books in the library. This is due to the simple nature of data searching through the search engines in the internet. Internet was advanced to enable professionals to consult on their work from wherever they are in the world without necessarily travelling to hold physical meetings.

Internet has enabled the world to become small in the sense that regardless the distance between people, they can close business transactions effectively. This is because business partners may meet and transact their business in the virtual world through the internet.

For instance, social networks, which are supported by the internet, have created a global scenario where people can mingle and make friends. In fact, strangers are meeting through internet, and if they have common activities they may extend them to their benefits. In addition, people abroad have been able to communicate with their family members and friends without incurring a lot of costs.

Internet has enabled people to shop from anywhere in the world by visiting desired websites. This has happened especially in the motor vehicle business where a consumer accesses motor dealers through the search machines. The customer is able to see various motor vehicles available in the dealers’ yards.

All information regarding vehicles is made available on the internet and upon making the desired choice, negotiations start (Misa, 2011). This maybe in the form of electronic mails, internet enabled phone calls or live chats. When they agree on terms of purchase and shipping the vehicle to customer’s location, payment is done through internet payment systems.

Then the vehicle is shipped to the customer who throughout the process keeps in touch with the dealers through internet. Internet has enhanced learning in universities and other learning institutions by providing easy means of accessing information. In fact, there is a variety of information available in the internet hence allowing students to have access to a lot of knowledge.

Everything that has advantages may be accompanied by several disadvantages. Internet has many advantages, but it also has a dark side of its advancement. There has been cases of internet crimes where people have lost their property and lives to internet friends. This happens where one discloses their information to strangers who purport to be looking for business accomplices (Weber, 2004).

After they get all the necessary information, they get access to bank accounts draining all the money to their accounts. Many people in the world have committed suicide after losing their long saved fortunes to internet conmen. Internet has negatively impacted social lives where young people have been exposed to pornographic materials. These materials have corrupted minds of youths hence causing them to engage in irresponsible sexual behaviors.

As a result, it has led to spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AID among young people. Internet has contributed to increased rate of piracy hence affecting artists (Morozov, 2011). This happens because upon the release of their music and other electronic works of art people send them to the internet making it easy for others to download. This affects their profitability as majority of people who get access to the works of art pay almost nothing.

In addition, people have lost their lives by meeting bandits from the internet. This is where people start up relationships on the internet and upon meeting they may disagree on some things. This might lead to physical confrontation or even to loss of lives in some cases. Therefore, internet users should be careful whenever planning to meet or transact any business with strangers.

Internet has transformed lives of many people in the world today as they can access any information with only a click of a mouse. This means that information sources have been made readily available in the world today. Transacting business with people abroad has become easy with the development of electronic payment systems which are aided by the internet.

People can send pictures and other information through the internet to their loved ones and friends. On the other hand, internet should be used wisely to reduce the rates of social crimes. People have lost their lives and property though internet deals, therefore, caution must be taken to prevent such actions.

Abbate, J. (2000). Inventing the Internet . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Aspray, W. C. (2008). Internet and American Business . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hewson, C. Y. (2002). Internet Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. London, GBR: SAGE Publicatins Inc. (US).

Misa, T. J. (2011). Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present . London: JHU Press.

Morozov, E. (2011). The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. PublicAffairs. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Weber, R. (2004). Computers Then and Now . Michigan: Compass Point Books.

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IvyPanda. (2023, November 1). The Invention of Internet.

"The Invention of Internet." IvyPanda , 1 Nov. 2023,

IvyPanda . (2023) 'The Invention of Internet'. 1 November.

IvyPanda . 2023. "The Invention of Internet." November 1, 2023.

1. IvyPanda . "The Invention of Internet." November 1, 2023.


IvyPanda . "The Invention of Internet." November 1, 2023.

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essay on invention of internet

Networked Politics

Exploring the connections of politics and power

How the Internet was born: from the ARPANET to the Internet

Associate, Sydney Democracy Network, School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS), University of Sydney

University of Sydney provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU.

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essay on invention of internet

This essay is the last of a four-part series , which commemorates the anniversary of the first ever message sent across the ARPANET, the progenitor of the Internet on October 29, 1969.

In today’s hyper-tech world, almost any new device (even a fridge, let alone phones or computers) is born “smart” enough to connect easily with the global network. This is possible because at the core of this worldwide infrastructure we call the Internet is a set of shared communication standards, procedures and formats called protocols. However, when in the early 1970s, the first four-nodes of the ARPANET became fully functional things were a bit more complicated. Exchanging data between different computers (let alone different computer networks) was not as easy as it is today. Finally, there was a reliable packet-switching network to connect to, but no universal language to communicate through it. Each host, in fact, had a set of specific protocols and to login users were required to know the host’s own ‘language’. Using ARPANET was like being given a telephone and unlimited credit only to find out that the only users we can call don’t speak our language.

essay on invention of internet

Predictably, the new network was scarcely used at the beginning. Excluding, in fact, the small circle of people directly involved in the project, a much larger crowd of potential users (e.g. graduate students, researchers and the many more who might have benefited from it) seemed wholly uninterested in using the ARPANET. The only thing that kept the network going in those early months was people changing jobs . In face, when researchers relocated to one of the other network sites – for instance from UCLA to Stanford – then, and only then, the usage of those sites’ resources increased. The reason was quite simple: the providential migrants brought the gift knowledge with them. They knew the procedures in use in the other site, and hence they knew how to “talk” with the host computer in their old department.

To find a solution to this frustrating problem, Roberts and his staff established a specific group of researchers – most of them still graduate students – to develop the host-to-host software. The group was initially called the Network Working Group (NWG) and was led by a UCLA graduate student, Steve Crocker. Later, in 1972, the group changed its name in International Network Working Group (INWG) and the leadership passed from Crocker to Vint Cerf. In the words of Crocker :

The Network Working Group consists of interested people from existing or potential ARPA network sites. Membership is not closed. The [NWG] is concerned with the HOST software, the strategies for using the network, and initial experience with the network.

The NWG was a special body (the first of its kind) concerned not only with monitoring and questioning the network’s technical aspects, but, more broadly, with every aspect of it, even the moral or philosophical ones. Thanks to Crocker’s imaginative leadership, the discussion in the group was facilitated by a highly original, and rather democratic method, still in use five decades later. To communicate with the whole group, all a member needed to do was to send a simple Request for Comment (RFC). To avoid stepping on someone’s toes, the notes were to be considered “unofficial” and with “no status”. Membership to the group was not closed and “notes may be produced at any site by anybody”. The minimum length of a RFC was, and still is “ one sentence ”.

The openness of the RFC process helped encourage participation among the members of a very heterogeneous group of people, ranging from graduate students to professors and program managers. Following a “ spirit of unrestrained participation in working group meetings ”, the RFC method proved to be a critical asset for the people involved in the project. It helped them reflect openly about the aims and goals of the network, within and beyond its technical infrastructure.

The significance of both the RFC method and the NWG goes far beyond the critical part they played in setting up the standards for today’s Internet. Both helped shape and strengthen a new revolutionary culture that in the name of knowledge and problem-solving tends to disregard power hierarchies as nuisances, while highlighting networking as the only path to find the best solution to a problem, any problem. Within this kind of environment, it is not one’s particular vision or idea that counts, but the welfare of the environment itself: that is, the network.

This particular culture informs the whole communication galaxy we call today the Internet; in fact, it is one of its defining elements. The offspring of the marriage between the RFC and the NGW are called web-logs, web forums, email lists, and of course social media while Internet-working is now a key-aspect in many processes of human interaction, ranging from solving technical issues, to finding solution to more complex social or political matters.

Widening the network

The NWG however needed almost two years to write the software, but eventually, by 1970 the ARPANET had its first host-to-host protocol, the Network Control Protocol (NCP). By December 1970 the original four-node network had expanded to 10 nodes and 19 hosts computers. Four months later, the ARPANET had grown to 15 nodes and 23 hosts.

By this time, despite delivering “data packets” for more than a year, the ARPANET showed almost no sign of “useful interactions that were taking place on [it]”. The hosts were plugged in, but they all lacked the right configuration (or knowledge) to properly use the network. To make “the world take notice of packet switching”, Roberts and his colleagues decided to give a public demonstration of the ARPANET and its potentials at the International Conference on Computer Communication (ICCC) held in Washington, D.C., in October 1972.

The demonstration was a success: “[i]t really marked a major change in the attitude towards the reality of packet switching” said Robert Kahn . It involved – among other things – demonstrating how tools for network measurement worked, displaying the IMPs network traffic, editing text at a distance, file transfers, and remote logins.

It was just a remarkable panoply of online services, all in that one room with about fifty different terminals.

The demonstration fully succeeded in showing how packet-switching worked to people that were not involved in the original project. It inspired others to follow the example set by Larry Roberts’ network. International nodes located in England and Norway were added in 1973; and in the following years, others packet-switching networks, independent from ARPANET, appeared worldwide. This passage from a relatively small experimental network to one (in principle) encompassing the whole world confronted the ARPANET’s designers with a new challenge: how to make different networks, that used different technologies and approaches, able to communicate with each other?

The concept of “Internetting”, or “open-architecture networking”, first introduced in 1972, illustrates the critical need for the network to expand beyond its limited restricted circle of host computers.

The existing Network Control Protocol (NCP) didn’t meet the requirements. It had been designed to manage communication host-to-host within the same network. To build a true open reliable and dynamic network of networks what was needed was a new general protocol. It took several years, but eventually, by 1978, Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf (two of the BBN guys) succeeded in designing it. They called it Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). As Cerf explained

‘the job of the TCP is merely to take a stream of messages produced by one HOST and reproduce the stream at a foreign receiving HOST without change.’

To give an example: when a user sends or retrieve information across the Internet – e.g., access Web pages or upload files to a server - the TCP on the sender’s machine breaks the message into packets and send them out. The IP is instead the part of the protocol concerned with “the addressing and forwarding” of those individual packets. The IP is a critical part of our daily Internet experience: without it, it would be practically impossible to locate the information we are looking for among the billions of machines connected to the network today.

essay on invention of internet

On the receiving end, the TCP helps reassemble all the packets into the original messages, checking errors and sequence order. Thanks to TCP/IP the exchange of data packets between different and distant networks was finally possible

Cerf and Khan’s new protocol opened up new possible avenues of collaboration between the ARPANET and all the other networks around the world that had been inspired by ARPA’s work. The foundations for a worldwide network were laid, and the doors were wide open for anyone to join in.

essay on invention of internet

Expansion of the ARPANET

In the years that followed, the ARPANET consolidated and expanded, all while remaining virtually unknown to the general public. On July 1, 1975, the network was placed under the direct control of the Defense Communication Agency (DCA). By then there were already 57 nodes in the network. The larger it grew, the more difficult it was to determine who was actually using it. There were, in fact, no tools to check the network users’ activity. The DCA began to worry. The mix of fast growth rate and lack of control could potentially become a serious issue for national security. The DCA, trying to control the situation, issued a series of warnings against any unauthorised access and use of the network. In his last newsletter before retiring to civilian life, the DCA’s appointed ARPANET Network Manager, Major Joseph Haughney wrote :

Only military personnel or ARPANET sponsor-validated persons working on government contracts or grants may use the ARPANET. […] Files should not be [exchanged] by anyone unless they are files that have been announced as ARPANET-public or unless permission has been obtained from the owner. Public files on the ARPANET are not to be considered public files outside of the ARPANET, and should not be transferred, or their contents given or sold to the general public without permission of DCA or the ARPANET sponsors.

However, these warnings were largely ignored as most of the networked nodes had, Haughney put it , “weak or nonexistent host access to the control mechanism”. By the early 1980s, the network was essentially an open access area for both authorised and non-authorised users. This situation was made worse by the drastic drop in computer prices. With the potential number of machines capable of connecting to the network increasing constantly, the concern over its vulnerability rose to new heights.

The 1983 hit film, War Games , about a young computer whiz who manages to connect to the super computer at NORAD and almost start World Word III from his bedroom, perfectly captured the mood of the militaries towards the network. By the end of that year, the Department of Defense ‘in its biggest step to date against illegal penetration of computers’ – as The New York Times reported – “split a global computer network into separate parts for military and civilian users, thereby limiting access by university- based researchers, trespassers and possibly spies”.

The ARPANET was effectively divided in two distinct networks: one still called ARPANET, mainly dedicated to research, and the other called MILNET, a military operational network, protected by strong security measures like encryption and restricted access control.

essay on invention of internet

By the mid 1980s the network was widely used by researchers and developers. But it was also being picked up by a growing number of other communities and networks. The transition towards a privatised Internet took ten more years, and it was largely handled by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF’s own network NFTNET had started using the ARPANET as its backbone since 1984, but by 1988 the NSF had already initiated the commercialisation and privatisation of the Internet by promoting the development of “private” and “long-haul networks”. The role of these private networks was to build new or maintain existing local/regional networks, while providing access to their users to the whole Internet.

The ARPANET was officially decommissioned in 1990, whilst in 1995 the NFTNET was shut down and the Internet effectively privatised. By then, the network - no longer the private enclave of computer scientists or militaries - had become the Internet, a new galaxy of communication ready to be fully explored and populated.

The Internet

During its early stages, between the 60s and 70s, the communication galaxy spawned by the ARPANET was not only mostly uncharted space, but, compared to today’ standards, also mainly empty. It continued as such well into the 90s, before the technology pioneered with the ARPANET project became the backbone of the Internet.

essay on invention of internet

In 1992, during its first phase of popularisation, the global networks connected to the Internet exchanged about 100 Gigabytes (GB) of traffic per day. Since then, data traffic has grown exponentially along with the number of users and the network’s popularity. A decade later, thanks to Tim Berners Lee’s World Wide Web (1989), there is an ever increasing availability of cheap and powerful tools to navigate the galaxy, not to mention the explosion of social media from 2005 onward. And so, ‘per day’ became ‘per second’, and in 2014 global Internet traffic peaked at 16,000 GBps, with experts forecasting the number to quadruple before the decade is out.

Still, numbers can sometimes be deceptive, as well as frustratingly confusing for the non-expert reader. What hides beneath their dry technicality is a simple fact: the enduring impact of that first stuttered hello at UCLA on October 29, 1969 has dramatically transcended the apparent technical triviality of making two computers talk to each other. Nearly five decades after Kleinrock and Kline’s experiment in California, the Internet has arguably become a driving force in the daily routines of more than three billion people worldwide. For a growing number of users, a mere minute of life on the Internet is to be part, simultaneously, of an endless stream of shared experiences that include, among other things, watching over 165,000 hours of video, being exposed to 10 million adverts, playing nearly 32,000 hours of music and sending and receiving over 200 million emails.

Albeit at different levels of participation, the lives of almost half of the world population are increasingly shaped by this expanding communication galaxy.

We use the global network almost for everything. ‘I’m on the Internet’, ‘Check the Internet’, ‘It’s on the Internet’ and other similar stock phrases have become portmanteau for an increasing range of activities: from chatting with friends to looking for love; from going on shopping sprees to studying for a University degree; from playing a game to earning a living; from becoming a sinner to connecting with God; from robbing a stranger to stalking a former lover; the list is virtually endless.

But there is much more than this. The expansion of the Internet is deeply entangled with the sphere of politics. The more people embrace this new age of communicative abundance , the more it affects the way in which we exercise our political will in this world. Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 , the Indignados in Spain in 2011 , the Five Star Movement in Italy in 2013, Julian Assange’s Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s revelations of the NSA’s secret system of surveillance are but a handful of examples that show how, in just the last decade, the Internet has changed the way in which we engage with politics and challenge power. The Snowden’s files, however, also highlight the other, much darker side of the story : the more we become networked, the more we become obliviously exploitable, searchable, and monitored.

Several decades after the journey began, we have yet to reach the full potential of the ‘Intergalactic Network’ imagined by Licklider in the early 1960s. However, the quasi-perfect symbiosis between humans and computers that we experience every day, albeit not without shadows, it is arguably one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments.

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The Invention of the Internet

By: Editors

Updated: October 28, 2019 | Original: July 30, 2010

essay on invention of internet

Unlike technologies such as the light bulb or the telephone, the internet has no single “inventor.” Instead, it has evolved over time. The internet got its start in the United States more than 50 years ago as a government weapon in the Cold War. For years, scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data with one another. Today, we use the internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it.

The Sputnik Scare

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first manmade satellite into orbit. The satellite, known as Sputnik, did not do much: It relayed blips and bleeps from its radio transmitters as it circled the Earth. Still, to many Americans, the beach-ball-sized Sputnik was proof of something alarming: While the brightest scientists and engineers in the United States had been designing bigger cars and better television sets, it seemed, the Soviets had been focusing on less frivolous things—and they were going to win the Cold War because of it.

Did you know? Today, almost one-third of the world’s 6.8 billion people use the internet regularly.

After Sputnik’s launch, many Americans began to think more seriously about science and technology. Schools added courses on subjects like chemistry, physics and calculus. Corporations took government grants and invested them in scientific research and development. And the federal government itself formed new agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), to develop space-age technologies such as rockets, weapons and computers.

The Birth of the ARPAnet

Scientists and military experts were especially concerned about what might happen in the event of a Soviet attack on the nation’s telephone system. Just one missile, they feared, could destroy the whole network of lines and wires that made efficient long-distance communication possible. 

In 1962, a scientist from M.I.T. and ARPA named J.C.R. Licklider proposed a solution to this problem: a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to one another. Such a network would enable government leaders to communicate even if the Soviets destroyed the telephone system.

In 1965, another M.I.T. scientist developed a way of sending information from one computer to another that he called “packet switching.” Packet switching breaks data down into blocks, or packets, before sending it to its destination. That way, each packet can take its own route from place to place. Without packet switching, the government’s computer network—now known as the ARPAnet—would have been just as vulnerable to enemy attacks as the phone system.

On October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message: a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another. (The first computer was located in a research lab at UCLA and the second was at Stanford; each one was the size of a small house.) The message—“LOGIN”—was short and simple, but it crashed the fledgling ARPA network anyway: The Stanford computer only received the note’s first two letters.

The Network Grows

By the end of 1969, just four computers were connected to the ARPAnet, but the network grew steadily during the 1970s. 

In 1971, it added the University of Hawaii’s ALOHAnet, and two years later it added networks at London’s University College and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway. As packet-switched computer networks multiplied, however, it became more difficult for them to integrate into a single worldwide “internet.”

By the end of the 1970s, a computer scientist named Vinton Cerf had begun to solve this problem by developing a way for all of the computers on all of the world’s mini-networks to communicate with one another. He called his invention “Transmission Control Protocol,” or TCP. (Later, he added an additional protocol, known as “Internet Protocol.” The acronym we use to refer to these today is TCP/IP.) One writer describes Cerf’s protocol as “the ‘handshake’ that introduces distant and different computers to each other in a virtual space.”

The World Wide Web

Cerf’s protocol transformed the internet into a worldwide network. Throughout the 1980s, researchers and scientists used it to send files and data from one computer to another. However, in 1991 the internet changed again. That year, a computer programmer in Switzerland named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web: an internet that was not simply a way to send files from one place to another but was itself a “web” of information that anyone on the Internet could retrieve. Berners-Lee created the Internet that we know today.

Since then, the internet has changed in many ways. In 1992, a group of students and researchers at the University of Illinois developed a sophisticated browser that they called Mosaic. (It later became Netscape.) Mosaic offered a user-friendly way to search the Web: It allowed users to see words and pictures on the same page for the first time and to navigate using scrollbars and clickable links. 

That same year, Congress decided that the Web could be used for commercial purposes. As a result, companies of all kinds hurried to set up websites of their own, and e-commerce entrepreneurs began to use the internet to sell goods directly to customers. More recently, social networking sites like Facebook have become a popular way for people of all ages to stay connected.

essay on invention of internet

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Take a closer look at the inventions that have transformed our lives far beyond our homes (the steam engine), our planet (the telescope) and our wildest dreams (the internet).

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A Brief History of the Internet – Who Invented It, How it Works, and How it Became the Web We Use Today

Dionysia Lemonaki

Let's start by clearing up some mis-conceptions about the Internet. The Internet is not the Web. The Internet is not a cloud. And the Internet is not magic.

It may seem like something automatic that we take for granted, but there is a whole process that happens behind the scenes that makes it run.

So...The Internet. What is it?

The Internet is actually a wire. Well, many wires that connect computers all around the world.

The Internet is also infrastructure. It's a global network of interconnected computers that communicate through a standardised way with set protocols.

Really, it's a network of networks. It's a fully distributed system of computing devices and it ensures end to end connectivity through every part of the network. The aim is for every device to be able to communicate with any other device.


The Internet is something we all use everyday, and many of us can't imagine our lives without it. The internet and all the technological advances it offers has changed our society. It has changed our jobs, the way we consume news and share information, and the way we communicate with one another.

It has also created so many opportunities and has helped helped humanity progress and has shaped our human experience.  

There is nothing else like it – it's one of the greatest inventions of all time. But do we ever stop to think why it was created in the first place, how it all happened, or by whom it was created? How the internet has become what it is today?

This article is more of a journey back in time. We'll learn about the origins of the Internet and how far it has come throughout the years, as this can be beneficial in our coding journeys.

Learning about the history of how the Internet was created has made me realise that everything comes down to problem solving. And that is what coding is all about. Having a problem, trying to find a solution to it, and improving upon it once that solution is found.

The Internet, a technology so expansive and ever-changing, wasn't the work of just one person or institution. Many people contributed to its growth by developing new features.

So it has developed over time. It was at least 40 years in the making and kept (well, still keeps) on evolving.

And it wasn't created just for the sake of creating something. The Internet we know and use today was a result of an experiment, ARPANET, the precursor network to the internet.

And it all started  because of a problem.

Scared of Sputnik

It was in the midst of the Cold War, October 4 1957, that the Soviets launched the first man made satellite into space called Sputnik.

As it was the world's first ever artificial object to float into space, this was alarming for Americans.

The Soviets were not only ahead in science and technology but they were a threat. Americans feared that the Soviets would spy on their enemies, win the Cold War, and that nuclear attacks on American soil were possible.


So Americans started to think more seriously about science and technology. After the Sputnik wake up call, the space race began. It was not long after that in 1958 the US Administration funded various agencies, one of them being ARPA.

ARPA stands for Advanced Research Project Agency. It was a Defence Department research project in Computer Science, a way for scientists and researchers to share information, findings, knowledge, and communicate. It also allowed and helped the field of Computer Science to develop and evolve.

It was there that the vision of J.C.R. Licklider, one of the directors of ARPA, would start to form in the years to come.

Without ARPA the Internet would not exist. It was because of this institution that the very first version of the Internet was created – ARPANET.

Creating a Global Network of Computers

Although Licklider left ARPA a few years before ARPANET was created, his ideas and his vision laid the foundation and building blocks to create the Internet. The fact that it has become what we know today we may take for granted.

Computers at the time were not as we know them now. They were massive and extremely expensive. They were seen as number-crunching machines and mostly as calculators, and they could only perform a limited number of tasks.

So in the era of mainframe computers, each one could only run a specific task. For an experiment to take place that required multiple tasks, it would require more than one computer. But that meant buying more expensive hardware.

The solution to that?

Connecting multiple computers to the same network and getting those different systems to speak the same language in order to communicate with one another.

The idea of multiple computers connected to a network was not new. Such infrastructure existed in the 1950's and was called WANs (Wide Area Networks).

However, WANs had many technological limitations and were constrained both to small areas and in what they could do. Each machine spoke it's own language which made it impossible for it to communicate with other machines.

So this idea of a 'global network' that Licklider proposed and then popularised in the early 1960's was revolutionary. It tied in with the greater vision he had, that of the perfect symbiosis between computers and humans.

He was certain that in the future computers would improve the quality of life and get rid of repetitive tasks, leaving room and time for humans to think creatively, more in-depth, and let their imagination flow.

That could only come to fruition if different systems broke the language barrier and integrated into a wider network. This idea of "Networking" is what makes the Internet we use today. It's essentially the need for common standards for different systems to communicate.

Building a Distributed Packet Switched Network

Up until this point (the end of the 1960's), when you wanted to run tasks on computers, data was sent via the telephone line using a method called "Circuit switching".

This method worked just fine for phone calls but was was very inefficient for computers and the Internet.

Using this method you could only send data as a full packet, that is data sent over the network, and only to one computer at a time. It was common for information to get lost and to have to re-start the whole procedure from the beginning. It was time consuming, ineffective, and costly.

And then in the Cold War era, it was also dangerous. An attack on the telephone system would destroy the whole communication system.

The answer to that problem was packet switching.

It was a simple and efficient method of transferring data. Instead of sending data as one big stream, it cuts it up into pieces.

Then it breaks down the packets of information into blocks and forwards them as fast as possible and in as many possible directions, each taking its own different routes in the network, until they reach their destination.

Once there, they are re-assembled. That's made possible because each packet has information about the sender, the destination, and a number. This then allows the receiver to put them back together in their original form.

This method was researched by different scientists, but the ideas of Paul Baran on distributed networks were later adopted by ARPANET.

Baran was trying to figure out a communication system that could survive a nuclear attack. Essentially he wanted to discover a communication system that could handle failure.

He came to the conclusion that networks can be built around two types of structures: centralised and distributed.

From those structures there came three types of networks: centralised, decentralised, and distributed. Out of those three, it was only the last one that was fit to survive an attack.

If a part of that kind of network was destroyed, the rest of it would still function and the task would simply be moved to another part.

At the time, they didn't have rapid expansion of the network in mind – we didn't need it. And  it was only in the years to come that this expansion started to take shape. Baran's ideas were ahead of his time, however, they laid the foundation for how the Internet works now.

The experimental packet switched network was a success. It led to the early creation of the ARPANET architecture which adopted this method.

How ARPANET Was Built

What started off as a response to a Cold War threat was turning into something different. The first prototype of the Internet slowly began to take shape and the first computer network was built, ARPANET.

The goal now was resource sharing, whether that was data, findings, or applications. It would allow people, no matter where they were, to harness the power of expensive computing that was far away, as if they were right in front of them.  

Up until this point scientists couldn't use resources available on computers that were in another location. Each mainframe computer spoke its own language so there was lack of communication and incompatibility between the systems.

In order for computers to be effective, though, they needed to speak the same language and be linked together into a network.

So the solution to that was to build a network that established communication links between multiple resource-sharing mainframe supercomputers that were miles apart.

The building of an experimental nationwide packet switched network that linked centers run by agencies and universities began.

On October 29 1969 different computers made their first connection and spoke, a 'node to node' communication from one computer to another. It was an experiment that was about to revolutionize communication.

The first ever message was delivered from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) to SRI (the Stanford Research Institute).

It read simply "LO".

What was meant to be "LOGIN" was not feasible at first, as the system crashed and had to be rebooted. But it worked! The first step had been made and the language barrier had been broken.

By the end of 1969 a connection had been established between four nodes on the whole network which included UCLA, SRI, UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara) and the University of Utah.


But the network grew steadily throughout the years and more and more universities joined.

By 1973 there were even nodes connecting to England and Norway. ARPANET managed to connect these supercomputing centers run by universities together into its network.

One of the greatest achievements of that time was that a new culture was emerging. A culture that revolved around solving problems via sharing and finding the best possible solution collectively via networking.

During that time scientists and researchers were questioning every aspect of the network – technical aspects as well as the moral side of things, too.

The environments where these discussions were taking place were welcoming for all and free of hierarchies. Everyone was free to express their opinion and collaborate to solve the big issues that arose.

We see that kind of culture carrying over to the Internet of today. Through forums, social media, and the like, people ask questions to get answers or come together to deal with problems, whatever they may be, that affect the human condition and experience.

As time passed, more independent packet switched networks emerged that were not related to ARPANET (which existed on an international level and started to multiply by the 1970's) . That was a new challenge.

These different networks had their own dialects, and their own standards for how data was transferred. It was impossible for them to integrate into this larger network, the Internet we know today.

Getting these different networks to speak to one another – or Internetworking, a term scientists used for this process – proved to be a challenge.

A Need for Common Standards

Now our devices are designed so that they can connect to the wider global network automatically. But back then this process was a complex task.

This worldwide infrastructure, the network of networks that we call the Internet, is based on certain agreed upon protocols. Those are based on how networks communicate and exchange data.

From the early days at ARPANET, it still lacked a common language for computers outside its own network to be able to communicate with computers on its own network. Even though it was a secure and reliable packet-switched network.

How could these early networks communicate with one another? We needed the network to expand even more for the vision of an 'global network' to become a reality.

To build an open network of networks, a general protocol was needed. That is, a set of rules.

Those rules had to be strict enough for secure data transfer but also loose enough to accommodate all the ways that data was transferred.

TCP/IP Saves the Day

Vint Cerf and Bob Khan began working on the design of what we now call the Internet. In 1978 the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol were created, otherwise known as TCP/IP.

The rules for the Interconnection were:

  • The independent networks were not required to change
  • There was an effort to achieve communication
  • Internal networks would exist in addition with gateways that would connect these networks. Their job would be to translate between the networks. There would be one universal, agreed upon protocol for that.
  • There would be no central control, no one person or organization in charge.

As Cerf explained:

The job of TCP is merely to take a stream of messages produced by one HOST and reproduce the stream at a foreign receiving HOST without change.

The Internet Protocol (IP) makes locating information possible when looking among the plethora of machines available.

So how does data travel?

So how does a packet go from one destination to another? Say from the sending destination to the receiving one? What role does TCP/IP play in this and how does it make the journey possible?

When a user sends or receives information, the first step is for TCP on the sender's machine to break that data into packets and distribute them. Those packets travel from router to router over the Internet.

During this time the IP protocol is in charge of the addressing and forwarding of those packets. At the end, TCP reassembles the packets to their original state.

What Happened Next with the Internet?

Throughout the '80s this protocol was tested thoroughly and adopted by many networks. The Internet just continued to grow and scale at a rapid speed.

The interconnected global network of networks was finally starting to happen. It was still mainly used widely by researchers, scientists, and programmers to exchange messages and information. The general public was quite unaware of it.

But that was about to change in the late '80s when the Internet morphed again.

This was thanks to Tim Berners Lee who introduced the Web – how we know and use the Internet today.

The internet went from just sending messages from one computer to another to creating an accessible and intuitive way for people to browse what was at first a collection of interlinked websites. The Web was built on top of the Internet. The Internet is its backbone.

I hope this article gave some context and insight into the origins of this galaxy of information we use today. And I hope you enjoyed learning about how it actually all started and the path it took to becoming the Internet we know and use today.

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The History of the Internet

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Before there was the public internet there was the internet's forerunner ARPAnet or Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks. ARPAnet was funded by the United States military after the cold war with the aim of having a military command and control center that could withstand a nuclear attack. The point was to distribute information between geographically dispersed computers. ARPAnet created the TCP/IP communications standard, which defines data transfer on the internet today. The ARPAnet opened in 1969 and was quickly usurped by civilian computer nerds who had now found a way to share the few great computers that existed at that time.

Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee was the man leading the development of the World Wide Web (with help of course), the defining of HTML (hypertext markup language) used to create web pages, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), and URLs (Universal Resource Locators). All of those developments took place between 1989 and 1991.

Tim Berners-Lee was born in London, England and graduated in Physics from Oxford University in 1976. He is currently the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, the group that sets technical standards for the web.

Besides Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf is also named as an internet daddy. Ten years out of high school, Vinton Cerf began co-designing and co-developing the protocols and structure of what became the internet.

History of HTML

Vannevar Bush first proposed the basics of hypertext in 1945. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, HTML (hypertext markup language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and URLs (Universal Resource Locators) in 1990. Tim Berners-Lee was the primary author of html, assisted by his colleagues at CERN, an international scientific organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Origin of Email

Computer engineer, Ray Tomlinson invented internet-based email in late 1971.

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