In the summer of 1969, not everyone was at Woodstock. In laboratories on either
side of the continent a small group of computer scientists were quietly changing
the future of communication. Their goal was to build a computer network that
would enable researchers around the country to share ideas (Kantrowitz 56). The
Internet we make so much today -- the global Internet which has helped scholars
so much, where free speech is flourishing as never before in history -- the
Internet was a cold war military project. It was designed for purposes of military
communication in a United States devastated by a Soviet nuclear strike.
Originally, the Internet was a post-apocalypse command grid (Tappendorf 1).
The threat of nuclear war was a tangible, and frightening, possibility during the
cold war period. In the 1960s the Vietnam War was grabbing all of the headlines.
The history books describe the decade as brimming with social unrest and
change. This decade also witnessed the birth of a military experiment that was to
evolve into what we now call the Net (Net 1). The history of the Internet begins
with the research and development, RAND, group in 1966. Paul Baran was
commissioned by the United States Air Force to do a study on how it could
maintain its command control over its missiles and bombers, after a nuclear
attack. Baran's finished document described several ways to accomplish this
task. What he finally proposes is a packet switched network (Tappendorf 2).
Packet switching is a method of fragmenting messages into sub-parts called
packets, routing them to their destinations and reassembling them. Packetizing
information has several advantages. It facilitates allowing several users to share
the same connection by breaking up the data into discrete units which can be
routed separately. Because no transmission medium is 100% reliable, packet
switching allows one bad packet to be re-sent while other good packets are
uninterrupted in their transmission (Hardy 6). Packets may carry information
about themselves, where they have been and where they are going. In addition,
packets may be compressed for speed and size advantages or encrypted for
security. Most packets carry some sort of internal check for consistency that helps
to weed out bad packets. Packetizing data has advantages in overcoming certain
inherent bandwidth and speed constraints, particularly in older network and
modem based communication (Hardy 6). The early pioneers of Advanced
Research Projects Agency network, ARPAnet, wanted to create a network that
was robust, reliable, and did not have a single point of failure. A single point of
failure would be a network designed with one device that was the master node,
or controlling device, for the network. This leads to problems in that when the
master node goes down, the whole entire network is lost. These early pioneers of
ARPAnet acknowledged this single point of failure concept, in turn, created a
network that had no central controlling device; rather, it was made up of
individual devices, or nodes that all worked together and participated on the
network. Although these first networks consisted of few machines, it laid the
foundation for things to come (Boyce 492). The reliable networking part
involved dynamic rerouting. If one of the network links were to become disrupted
by enemy attack, the traffic on it could automatically be rerouted to other links.
Fortunately, the net rarely has come under enemy attack. But an errant backhoe
cutting a cable is just as much of a threat, so it's important for the net to be
backhoe resistant (Levine 12). Starting with the ARPAnet the government began
researching ways to exchange information among various government sites
located in the United States. The research and implementation of ARPAnet led to
the early beginnings of the Internet. This network allowed government officials at
various sites to exchange files, documents, and messages with one another, even
though they were physically separated by many miles (Boyce 492). In 1969, what
would later become the Internet was founded. It contrasts sharply with today's
Internet. The ARPAnet network had four machines on it, linked together with a
packet switched network. Soon afterward other government agencies became
interested in this new network; Department of Defense, NASA, National Science
Foundation, and the Federal Reserve Board. Because of this new interest and the
fact that ARPAnet was growing, now 24 nodes in 1972, Information Processing
Techniques Office, IPTO, began to look to other ways to transmit data other than
through a wire. Two projects were launched to settle these needs. The first was
the use of satellites for data transmission. IPTO quickly learned that it would be
possible to send data via satellite and went into negotiations