The History of The Internet

Imagine talking about the latest elections with someone three thousand
miles away without receiving a tremendous phone bill. Or sending a letter to a
friend or relative and having it arrive one second later. How would it feel to
know that any source of information is at your fingertips at the press of a
button? All of these are possible and more with a system of networks all
connected and sending information at light speed from place to place known as
the Internet. This is a trend word for the nineties yet it has a background
that spans all the way back to the sixties. The history of the Internet is a
full one at that even though it has only been around for about 30 years. It has
grown to be the greatest collection of networks in the world, its origins go
back to 1962.

In 1962 the original idea for this great network of computers sprung
forth from a question "How could U.S. authorities successfully communicate after
a nuclear war?" The answer came from the Rand Corporation, America\'s foremost
Cold War think-tank. Why not create a network of computers without one central
main authoritative unit (Sterling 1) The Rand Corporation working along side the
U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) devised a plan. The network
itself would be considered unreliable at all times; therefore it would never
become too dependable and powerful. Each computer on the network or node would
have its own authority to originate, pass, and receive messages. The name given
to this network was the ARPANET.

To fully understand the ARPANET, an understanding of how a network works
is needed. A network is a group of computers connected by a permanent cable or
temporary phone line. The sole purpose of a network is to be able to
communicate and send information electronically. The plan for the ARPANET was
to have the messages themselves divided into packets, each packet separately
addressed to be able to wind its way through the network on an individual basis.
If one node was gone it would not matter, the message would find a way to
another node.

The idea was kicked around by MIT, UCLA, and RAND during the sixties.
After the British setup a test network of this type, ARPA decided to fund a
larger project in the USA. The first university to receive a node called an
Interface Message Processor for this network was UCLA around Labor Day, marking
September 1, 1969 the birth date of the Internet as we know it today (Cerf 1).
The next university was Stanford Research Institute (SRI) then UC Santa Barbara
(UCSB), and finally University of Utah (Cerf 1).

The original computers used to connect to the ARPANET were consider
super computers of the time. Science Data Systems (SDS) Sigma 7 was the name of
the original computer at UCLA (Cerf 1). Each one of the computers connected to
each other at a speed of about 400,000 bytes per second or 400 kbps over a
dedicated line, which was fast at the time. Originally they connected using a
protocol, "Network Control Protocol", or NCP but as time passed and the
technology advanced, NCP was superseded by the protocol used by most Internet
users today TCP/IP (Sterling 2). TCP or Transmission Control Protocol converts
the message into streams of packets at the source, then reassembles them back
into messages at the destination. IP, or Internet Protocol handles the
addressing, seeing to it that packets are routed across multiple nodes and even
across multiple networks with multiple standards not only ARPA\'s. This
protocol came into use around 1977 (Zakon 5).

In 1969 there existed 4 nodes, in 1971 there were 15, and in 1972 there
were 37 nodes. This exponential growth has continued even today in 1996 there
are about 5.3 million nodes connected to the Internet (Zakon 14). The number of
people, however, is estimated because the number of people connected to any one
network varies. The amount of content over the Internet is estimated at about
12,000,000 web pages. As the numbers grew and grew the military finally dropped
out in 1983 and formed MILNET. The ARPANET also dawned a new name in 1989; it
became known as the Internet.

The ARPANET was not the only network of this time. Companies had their
own Local Area Network or LAN and Ethernet. LANs usually have one main server
and several computers connected to that server, such as the computer lab at Prep.
The server usually has a large hard drive and possibly share a printer. The
computers connected to the server generally