Internet, the abbreviated form of interconnected network, is a collection of computer systems that are linked by internet protocol suites like TCP/IP.
It is a collection of private, public, business and government networks that may either be in the local or global scale.
These networks are linked together by electronic, wireless or optical network technologies. But mostly it is the combination of all three.
As is often the case with an ever-advancing technology, a single person didn’t develop the Internet. It is the work of dozens of scientists, engineers, and programmers who each developed new and exciting features of the Internet which then became the Internet that we know today.
- Suggested read – Size of the Internet
Why was the Internet developed?
The concept of communicating data between two different places started with radios which transmitted data using the electromagnetic medium. But this communication was limited between two devices and to a particular two locations.
The US Department of Defense wanted to develop a communication network that could survive and help in a nuclear attack.
The primary purpose of this network was to connect universities and other research centers which were conducting certain DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) projects.
DARPA is an agency under the US government responsible for the development of new technologies to use in the military.
The ARPANET was developed by DARPA so that its engineers and scientists could communicate, which then became the Internet.
The first person who dreamed of the Internet was Leonard Kleinrock. He is an American computer scientist and made several contributions.
One of them was laying the foundation for the Internet by explaining the theoretical concept of computer networking.
He kick-started the development of the Internet when he published his first paper “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets” on May 31, 1961.
In 1962, the first director of Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO), J. C. R. Licklider shared his idea on a universal network.
This idea then inspired his successors at IPTO to invent APRANET which later led to the development of the Internet.
Robert Taylor, with ideas of Kleinrock and Licklider, helped create the plan for a network which soon became the ARPANET.
In 1969, the idea came true when the APRA engineers were able to connect four university computers. The primary purpose for the net was to communicate and share computer resources at the connected universities.
The data gets divided into smaller units called packets. These packets could be transmitted and then be reconstructed to form the original data back at the receiver’s end.
In the years that came by, ARPANET continued to grow and evolve all without the knowledge of the public.
But as the net grew in size, the more difficult it was to determine who was using it. This was a major security issue faced by the DCA (Defense Communication Agency).
The First Message and First crash
The four universities that were connected using the initial ARPANET were UCLA’s Network Measurement Center, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.
On October 29, 1969, an attempt was made to transfer a message. A student at UCLA, Charles Kline tried to “LOGIN” to the computer at SRI. But unfortunately, only “LO” was received because the system at SRI crashed.
The issue was resolved soon after the crash, and he was successfully able to log in.
Public meets ARPANET
ARPANET went public in October 1972, at the first International Conference on Computers and Communication. During the conference, ARPA scientists linked 40 computers from different locations for a demonstration.
Though the public knew about the Internet before then, it was the first time it got presented in front of a crowd.
Development of Email
In 1971, Ray Tomlinson created the email as part of the project for ARPANET. He is also universally acknowledged as the creator of email.
But in 1978, a fourteen-year-old boy, Shiva Ayyadurai started working on the way to computerize the paper-based interoffice mail system for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In 1982 he copyrighted his software as EMAIL.
There has been a controversy going on that while Tomlinson created the system to send the messages, it was Ayyadurai who built the email in the form it is used today and must get credited as the creator of email.
Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn designed TCP during 1973 and later published it with the help of Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine.
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a set of communication protocols or rules used in computer networks. TCP first implementation took place in 1974.
In 1978, Danny Cohen, David Reed and John Shoch split TCP into TCP/IP to support real-time traffic. Even today, TCP/IP is still the best protocol used on the Internet.
In the 1970s, the development of TCP and TCP/ IP protocols made it possible for the network to grow in size.
It also ensured that many computers could be connected and slowly the network of networks emerged.
Introduction of DNS
Paul Mockapetris and Jon Postel introduced DNS (Domain Name System) in 1984. DNS is a naming system to uniquely identify computers, services, and other resources connected to the Internet.
The first domain name ever registered was, by a Massachusetts company Symbolics on March 15, 1985, symbolics.com.
First dial-up ISP
The first ISP ever is the “Telnet” which was the commercial version of ARPANET in 1974.
Introduced in the US in 1989, the first commercial dial-up ISP is called The World. “The World” is the first ISP for the Internet that we know of today.
Most of the web pages we use today is developed using HTML. Tim Berners-Lee developed HTML at CERN in 1990.
Tim Berners-Lee was also the one who developed the first website. He published it on August 6, 1991.
The World Wide Web (WWW), also known as the web is information storage where a web resource like documents and images gets stored. The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) identifies these resources.
Tim Berners-Lee introduced www to the public commercially on August 23, 1991. Most people consider www to be the Internet but these two two different terms.
Suggested read – Internet vs Web(WWW)
Though many people helped develop the Internet, it wouldn’t have been the same without the web.
First Graphical Browser
The first widely used graphical web browser was Mosaic released on April 23, 1993. It was developed by NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) with the help and guidance from Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina.
The biggest competitor for Mosaic was Netscape which was released a year later.
In short, the Internet was not a single person’s hard work; instead, it was a brainchild of many scientists over a couple of decades. Most people remember Al Gore to be the creator of the Internet, but he was the one to coin the term Internet.
The Internet was not an invention, but it was a development. It is not a single network; it is a network of networks.
Though we can’t pinpoint a particular person and call them as the inventor, we can provide credit to everyone who helped develop it. After all, what would we do without the Internet?