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The origin of the Internet can be traced to the launch of the first artificial earth satellite. In 1957, the USSR, successfully launched Sputnik, and the United States of America responded with ARPA. The Advanced Research Projects Agency was started by the Department of Defense to establish US supremacy in science and technology applicable to the military. And it was within ARPA that the seed for today's Internet was sowed.

The Internet, broadly described as having a world-wide broadcasting capability, being a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location, has its origins in packet-switching technology. In 1961, Leonard Klienrock presented the first paper on packet-switching. The concept of being able to transfer data in packets is the very core of the Internet.

During the early sixties, J.C.R. Licklider and W. Clark talked about a "Galactic Network" concept. Licklider envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. Much like what the Internet is today. Around 1962, in a US Governmental agency RAND, Paul Baran was given the task of creating a super resilient network, which would allow the US army to communicate, and retain control over its missiles and bombers, in the event of a nuclear attack. His final proposal was a packet-switched network. This technology involved breaking down the data into packets that would be transferred from one computer to the other until the final destination computer was reached. Also if any data were lost, it would be resent.

Around the mid sixties, two computers located in different geographical areas within the US were connected using a 1200 bps phone line. But this was done without using packet-switching. Within two years of this, the first design paper for the ARPANET, the precursor of the Internet was presented by Larry Roberts. ARPA awarded the contract for ARPANET to BBN, which constructed a physical network of four nodes, University of California at Los Angeles, SRI (in Stanford), University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Utah, in 1969.

Meanwhile Vint Cerf, C.S. Carr and S. Crocker working on the all important protocol for the ARPANET, came out with the original host to host communication protocol, called the Network Control Protocol. And subsequently ARPANET hosts started using this Network Control Protocol. Working for the ARPANET, Ray Tomlinson in 1971 came up with the first email program, to send messages across the network. This became an instant hit, with the @ sign from Tomlinson's Model 33 Teletype being chosen to represent "at". In that same year, Larry Roberts wrote the first email management program that could list, read, file, forward and respond to messages.

By 1972, the ARPA was renamed DARPA, Defense Advance Research Projects Agency. The ARPANET using the Network Control Protocol was allowing communication between its hosts. By the next year, the ARPANET had its first international connections, with the University of London (England) and NORSAR (Norway). In the same year, the concept of the Ethernet was born after Bob Metcalf's Harvard PhD thesis. Meanwhile Vint Cerf, in March that same year, sketched the gateway architecture for ARPANET, on the back of an envelope, in a San Francisco hotel lobby. Cerf and Bob Kahn, then presented the basic Internet concept at the International network Working Group.

The direct result was that development started on the protocol that was later to be called TCP/IP or Transmission Control protocol/ Internet Protocol. The development work was headed by Vinton Cerf of Stanford and Bob Kahn of DARPA. By 1974, they publish "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection" which along with detailing out TCP, also for the first time used the term 'Internet'. In the same year the first commercial version of the ARPANET, Telenet was opened by BBN. In 1975, satellite links connected Hawaii and UK as the first TCP tests were run through them by Stanford, BBN and UCL.

The year 1976 was marked by the first email being sent by Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, in February. As also by the final development of the Ethernet by Robert Metcalfe, which would allow data to move extremely fast. In the Internet etiquette front, on April 12th 1978, Kevin MacKenzie suggested the use of -) to indicate that the sentence in an email is tongue-in-cheek. And with this, emoticons were born.

1979 saw the creation of the decentralized news group USENET and the 'store and forward' network BITNET. The ARPANET completely shifted over to TCP/IP, in 1983, making it the core Internet protocol, and replacing the NCP (Network Control Protocol) entirely. In the same year the University of Wisconsin developed the Domain Name System (DNS), which made it easier for people to access servers, as they no longer needed to remember numbers. And in 1985, symbolics.com was assigned, to become the first registered domain. With domain names registration catching on, in 1988 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority was established with John Postel as the head. Around that time, Jarkko Oikarinen developed the Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

The beginning of the 1990s saw the first commercial provider of Internet dial-up access, world.std.com. Within a year Tim Berners-Lee developed World Wide Web (WWW). By now the ARPANET had been disbanded and replaced by the NFSNET. And in 1991, the NFSNET traffic was passing 10 trillion bytes/month and 10 billion packets/month. In this phase of heightened attention to the Internet, Jean Armour Polly coined the term 'surfing the Internet'. That same year saw the release of World Wide Web by CREN (Corporation for Research and Education Networking). Within two years, InterNIC was created to provide directory/database, registration and information services for the Internet. That year also saw the Whitehouse and United Nations coming online.

The year 1994 saw the arrival of shopping malls on the Internet, along with the first cyberstation (RT-FM) and online pizza delivery by Pizza Hut. During this year, hundreds of thousands of new hosts were added to the Internet. 1995 was the year when JAVA was launched, streaming audio technology hit the Internet thanks to RealAudio and the WWW became the service with the greatest traffic. The registration of domain names, previously free, now required a fee of $50 per year.

The mid 90s saw the emergence of search engines, and the browser wars between Netscape and Microsoft began in earnest. On 17th January 1996, PLO leader Yasser Arafat, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Phillipine President Fidel Ramos met for a ten minute online interactive chat. This clearly marked the power and the influence of the Internet on the entire world.

The late 90s saw the independent Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Sprint, BBN planet etc. carrying most of the Internet traffic on their backbones. Technologies like Push, Multicasting and Streaming Media came into force. In 1999 the first full service bank available only on the Internet came into being. That same year business.com was sold for a whopping US $7.5 million. Around this time e-Trade, online banking and MP3 was becoming popular.

Which brings us to the present. Not only did he Internet survive Y2K, its influence and usage increased, and is still increasing, at a mind-boggling rate. With an estimated 200 million users in 2000, the future is wide open.