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Where did it come from?

A Brief History of the internet.

Quote-"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

Like many, history was not very high in my list of favourite subjects at school, but by acquiring and understanding of how the internet got to where it is today, you are better prepared to understand the technology.


The beginning of the internet can be traced back to 1962, when the RAND (America's military think tank) tackled the problem of how they could communicate in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, although it has to be said their thinking was only possible because Russia had launched Sputnik, the communications satellite, years earlier.

Under the watchful eye of the ministry of defence, ARPA (American Research Project Agency) had a brief to promote the sharing of super computers amongst researchers in the U.S.

In 1969, ARPANET connected Stanford research Institute in Santa Barbara to the University of Utah, the internet was born, although the first attempt actually crashed on the 'g' of the word 'Login'

In the early seventies, 23 universities and government agencies around the U.S. were connected to each other via ARPANET. E-mail quickly became it's most popular feature after its introduction.

In 1973, ARPANET made it's first international connection between University college in London and Royal Radar establishment in Norway.

By 1980, there were 213 computers linked worldwide, the commercial world was beginning to sniff the potential of a network which allowed them to communicate with customers as well as each other.
ARPNET is brought to a complete halt when a virus is accidentally released into the system

1984,Intrenet connections worldwide exceed 1,000 for the first time.

In the mid eighties, a common language for all computers was established. For the first time, clusters of networked computers which formed ARPANET were called an internet.

1987,Worldwide internet connections exceed 10,000 for the first time.

1989, The first searchable index of data was made, named Archie. This was to pave the way for the development of more complex search engine software.

In 1990, the ARPANET was disbanded leaving a vast network of connected computers called the internet, the number of connections  exceeded 300,000.

In 1991, the first computer written web page was created, the ability to combine words, pictures and sounds excited computer programmers who saw the potential of accessing published information as easily as using a word processor.

1992 Internet connections exceed one million, the term surfing the net is first used.

1995,Saw the introduction of Internet Service providers as opposed to computer users having direct access to the internet. Worldwide connections topped 4 million, even the Vatican was online.

1996 Internet phones become reality. Telecommunications companies voice concerns over the competition to their monopolies, in the US, congress was even asked to ban the technology.

1997 The first Broadband connections become available, but generates a surprisingly low level of interest.

2001 internet service providers finally convince the general public that the Internets future is with a broadband connection, and makes significant headway in the mainstream markets.

The commercial development of computer operating systems, Internet service providers and search engines caused the internet to grow at a staggering rate, with just over 1 million users in 1992, and now an estimated 655 million of us use the internet to improve their quality of life in some way.

The table shows how long it took various items to penetrate into 25% of US households.
Telephone 35 years.
Television 26 years.
Radio 22 years.
P.C.'s 16 years.
Internet 7 years.

The deregulation of the telephone and communications industries in 1996. allowed companies to expand on technologies they had been experimenting with since the late 1980's, and fibre optics were used commercially carry data, in huge volumes as speeds previously only dreamed of.
Now, connections through the broadband service offer speeds of up to 24Mb per second, nearly 500 times faster than the 56k dial up modems that were thought so great in the late 1990's.

The rapid commercial growth was exploited by malicious programmers who found they could access information stored on computers connected to the internet which for a time, along with system crippling viruses threatened to undermine this new digital world.

What next?

For the last few years, American physics scientists have been working with a very powerful system, named INTERNET 2 (not much thought gone into the name then) which can move data around fibre optics at 2.4 Gigabytes per second ( about 40,000 times faster than a conventional 56K dial up modem).
Recently a team in California sent the equivalent of two full length DVD's of data 6821 miles to the Netherlands in less than a minute, Now that's fast.

Although they say there are no plans at present to expand the system commercially, that is what they said about the internet back in the early seventies and you can bet in 10 years time the 56k modem will be a museum piece and broadband will be as outdated as a video recorder in today's world.
Do not panic though, Internet 2 is being developed to supplement the existing networks, not replace them, it is expanding on existing technology so in theory it should be a matter of another upgrade rather than new equipment, which has to be good news.

Just for fun Who was you in a past life?

The next page will explain how it all works.

Internet Guides

What is it?

Where did it come from?

How does it work?

What do I need?

How do I use it?

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