Background and History of the Internet

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Nowadays Internet users can’t imagine their lives without it. This huge storage contains so much information you could drown in it. But have you ever wondered how much work had been done, how much sweat had been to deliver world knowledge into one system, called Internet. Have you ever thought how much effort it cost to its creators, especially developers? I guess not. And I’ll tell you why, the answer is that you probably perceive Internet as a due, but we should appreciate and value what we have today. Following information of Internet creation will dip you into late 1960 when everything began. And began everything with the idea…                                      

What Did the History Start with?

Congressman Al Gore once said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We can argue with that, because Al Gore was elected as a congressman only in 1976, but according to the article of Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, Al Gore did a lot for Internet development. They say:  “Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time”. But is it really true? Development of Internet has become the result of hard work of many like-minded people during many decades, until once it “knocked in your computer”. In the same article it is stated that Internet is the result of great work of many groups of people during many years. The foundation for Internet creation was basically created by three people (World’s First Web Published Book, 2000):

- Vannevar Bush hasn’t been directly involved in creation and development of the Internet, but he had a vision. In his article “As We May Think” (Atlantic Magazine, 1945), he talks about theoretical machine ‘memex’ that will help human beings to automate their memory and save documents linked by associations. Nowadays this link is known as hypertext.

- Norbert Wiener also had a great impact on Internet development. He invented cybernetics, and it made scientists consider computer technology as the one that will extend human capacity. He also suggested methodology to analyze and solve computer ethics questions.

- Marshall McLuhan created a concept of global village through electronic nervous system. The idea of this concept was that events in one part of the world could be experienced in the other in real time (Understanding Media, 1964).

With the first artificial USSR satellite launching in 1957, USA formed Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to regain technological lead in the arms race (Significant Dates in the History of Internet, p.1). American military didn’t know what Soviet Union launched into space, so they got armed. ARPA was the foundation that funded development of Arpanet, a network which became a part of today’s Internet (The World’s First Web Published Book, 2000). According to “A Brief History of the Internet”, 2012, at the beginning of its development Internet was called APRANET. It appeared from idea in 1960s of people who saw great opportunity in letting computers share the information based on science and service spheres. A world chain of PCs was first offered in 1962 by J.C.R. Licklider of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He decided to bring that idea into life. Professor of computer science Kleinrock L. found a way how to form background of world web connection. In 1965 two computers were connected using phone wires by Lawrence Roberts of MIT, but online Internet was brought in 1969 thanks to ARPA. It connected 4 computers in the US Southwestern universities. Internet was plugged at the beginning of 70s. It was developed to offer communication system which is going to function despite of basic websites inability to work properly. Then routers were invented to direct traffic.

First Internet Usage

First Internet’s purpose was to “serve” scientists, engineers, experts, and librarians. It was a very complex system at that time, so users were supposed to get some new knowledge to use it. It was limited to research, education, and government uses, because it was funded by government. Commercial uses of Internet were prohibited unless they served the goals of research and education. This policy continued until the early 90's, when independent commercial networks began to grow. Then it became possible to route traffic across the country from one commercial site to another without passing through the government funded NSFNet Internet backbone.

Next Steps

In late 60s libraries started to automate and network their resources. Then they were accessible around the Earth, at the beginning thanks to protocol, called telnet, and then through web.

In 1972 email was invented. Ray Tomlinson used @ symbol to connect user name and address (Brief History of the Internet, 2012). Then in 1973, Internet protocol was invented (ftp). It permitted to transfer files between one system and another, and since then Request for Comments (RFC) were available to anyone who had the protocol. During 70s “fathers of Internet” were working on improvement of the Protocol, and in 1978 they managed to form a separate protocol, called Internet Protocol. Usenet united computer operating systems on the planet, thus newsgroups became available. In 1981 Bitnet was connected with the Internet to exchange emails. When commands email and protocol became identified this made its usage more simplified. This opened the way to a big number of humans in higher educational establishments, computer and physics departments to converse online to coworkers, friends throughout the planet. At that time there were not so many sites, so it was easy to follow any changes and track of new information.

In 1989, Tim Berners–Lee, a scientist at CERN offered a new protocol to distribute information. Later it was called a World Wide Web, which was based on hypertext. The main idea of the www was to merge the technologies of personal computers, networking, and hypertext into a powerful global information system which would be easy to use (Web Communications, 2008). So, once the web was created, many developers tried to have their impact on its development. That’s why in 1994 Michael Dertouzos of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Sciences persuaded Tim Berners-Lee to form the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to develop standards for the Web. It was also engaged into education and software development. Then it opened a forum for web discussion.

The same 1989 year the founder of free software postscript Deutsch P. and Emtage A. designed a tool for indexing ftp archives, called Archie. It indexed thousands of ftp sites and helped people search for the files and software that they were looking for. After that network information search system indexed completed content of records into database and allowed files search. In 1990, Peter Scott decided to combine all information of library catalogues and additional protocol budgets on the web. It allowed getting information from the only spot and showed the ways of its usage.  

In 1991, at the University of Minnesota was developed interface. First it was more like demonstration system, called gopher, but just in some short period of time a huge number of menu systems extended all over the planet. In 1993, Marc Andreessen with the help of  Eric Bina, developed first graphical browser NCSA Mosaic, which was very popular, and then he produced even more successful graphical browser until Microsoft designed a new browser.

Online Services Become Accessible

Initial state online service was Delphi. It offered its subscribers access to Internet. In July 1992, it opened an electronic message tie, and in November 1992, a total accommodation in the world web. Next were chat room and web pages. Government was against it and had pretenses due to availability of Internet to everyone. But in May 1995, all restrictions for business utilization of the Internet were cancelled, because sponsorship with web transmission media foundation was over. New companies, such as America Online, CompuServe, and Interactive Services appeared online. Because business started to use Internet a lot, and learning establishment paid for Internet usage, losing of National Science Foundation financial support almost didn’t have any financial influence. Nowadays it supports education from kindergarten to 12th grade and provides its admission.

Internet Business Growth

Microsoft’s browser became business oriented. In 1998 Windows 98 was released under the direction of Bill Gates. Its release had a great impact on Internet growth. It’s been very successful and competitive on the market. With this fast Internet growth, many companies started to enter Internet to discover commercial patterns that’ll work. Access of free services, which were supported by advertisement, lowered the costs for consumers for a short period of time. Companies that entered Internet started to earn money online. People could buy books, CDs, music online at lower prices than in the shops, because online shops didn’t have to pay rent, salaries to its employees, so they could save up a lot. The only problem was that Internet was still something new to people, especially online shops, so not everyone was ready to buy online. Prosperous businesses at that time were only auctions and portal sites where people could buy anything for anyone.                                                   

Next “commotion” in the beginning of Internet growth was connection of two companies.

Current situation

A current situation is constant development of devices that provide its users with Internet access. For example, modems. Remember, just few years ago Internet speed wasn’t the same it is now. The same happens with modulators. And can you imagine what devices will replace them in the near future?

Nowadays many places, like hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars offer its customers free Wi-Fi (wireless) access to the Internet with the help of so-called “hot spots”. Wi-Fi became very popular lately, it’s not just free in many places, but also gives an opportunity for travelers to stay always online. There are also different formats, like WiMAX, EV-DO, 4g. They offer broader ranges that Wi-Fi.

What’s Next?

Next step will probably be universal wireless access to the Internet, where people will be able to find hot-spots anywhere. Programmers are working on making our lives as much easier as possible. Internet grows every day. It’s a big storage of information that gives access to almost any information. It saves our time, gives an opportunity to stay with our friends online even if we are on different poles. It made hearing, seeing each other from different parts of the world in online mode possible. We can get the latest news and create online profiles on Facebook and many other web sites. It gives an opportunity to get acquainted with people from any part of the world, to learn languages, and even to get married. Internet represents a successful example of beneficial investment and commitment to develop informational structure (Brief History of the Internet, p.1). For the past two decades it has incredibly changed, and it will keep changing. The question is how it will technologically change? I think it won’t make us wait for a long time.

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