A Brief History of the Internet

The Internet is made up of thousands of computer networks that are connected (networked) to each other. These connected computer networks are using the communication method called TCP/IP.


During the Cold War, on October 4, 1957 the Soviet Union (now Russia) quietly launched its first spacecraft satellite called Sputnik into orbit. This launch challenged the United States Department of Defense to put a high priority on research and projects in science and technology and created an agency called ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency).


The United States Air Force commissioned the Rand Corporation to proceed with a research project that consisted of protection and transfer of vital information in case of an attack in a nuclear war.


Paul Baran of the Rand Corporation created the concept of dividing information into blocks or packets and marking the origin and destination. Then sending the packets individually from one computer to another until they all hit the final destination. In the case of a nuclear attack, packets of information will continue transmitting between computers.


The ARPANET project was handed over to BBN Planet (GTE). BBN received its first Honeywell mini-computer (Honeywell 516) containing only 12 kilobytes of ram.


ARPANET was connecting 23 mini-computers in different universities and institutes in the United States, and was using the network control protocol (NCP) to transfer data.


Vinton "Vint" Cerf, an American computer scientist, and Robert E. "Bob" Kahn, an American engineer and computer scientist, start a project to develop Transmission-Control Protocol (TCP), while at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). ARPANET went international, connecting to England and Norway.


Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf refer to the term "Internet" for the first time in their notes regarding Transmission Control Protocol.


Usenet was created by Steve Bellovin, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis using UUCP.


The National Science Foundation created a separate Internet network called CSNET for institutions without access to ARPANET. It was wired on 56 kbps speed. Later Vint Cerf proposed a plan to establish a connection between ARPAMET and CSNET.


On January 1983 TCP/IP became the standard communication method for ARPANET and it replaced the network control protocol (NCP). An organization created to oversee web research and the development of the Internet, was called Internet Activities Board (IAB). The Domain Name System (DNS) was created by the University of Wisconsin. There was about 500 hosts connected to ARPANET.


The ARPANET was divided into two separate networks of MILNET and ARPANET. MILNET was used for military purposes and ARPANET was used for research and educational purposes. There was about 1000 hosts connected to ARPANET.


The National Science Foundation starts funding several universities and institutions with supercomputer centers, to make them available for research in universities around the country. Many universities did link to the NSF network and not only used them for research and education but also for e-mail file transfer and newsgroups.


The National Science Foundation continued its effort to make its own networks (NSFNET) available to educational institutions so that the educational institutions would have a faster connection. It also hired Merit Networks to helped them speed up their network.


The World wide web was invented by Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, an engineer and computer scientist from Great Britin, working as a professor at MIT and CERN Laboratory.


The Department of Defense decided to make the 50kbs ARPANET obsolete. ARPANET was replaced by NSFNET (The National Science Foundation's Network).

The first line browser (called www) was used on the CERN network.


WWW browser was available for download via FTP by CERN. This was the big start for the world wide web.


The National Science Foundation created InterNic which consists of three organizations:

  1. AT&T to handle database services
  2. Network Solutions, Inc. to handle host and domain name registrations and IP assignments
  3. General Atomics to handle information services

Network Solutions began registration services for .com, .net, .org and .gov.. The National Science Foundation started turning away from the internet backbone business, and instead they designed a series of Network Access points called NAPS. They then invited private telecommunication companies to interconnect at a series of single points.


The Internet grows significantly since it was open for commercial use. The National Science Foundation announced the following four major network access points (NAPS):

  1. San Francisco by Pac Bell
  2. Chicago by Ameritech
  3. New York by Sprint
  4. Washington DC by Metropolitan Fiber Systems

Internet Seach Engines Started:
  1. Yahoo
  2. Excite
  3. Infoseek


  1. The number of Internet hosts reaches 4 million
  2. Apache Project Started
  3. SAIC acquires Network Solutions Inc.
  4. Network Solutions Inc. started charging for Domain Name Registration Services: $100 fee for a two years registration

Internet Seach Engines Started:
  2. Alta Vista


  1. The number of Internet hosts reaches 9 million
  2. IANA hands IP Registration Authority to American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN)


  1. The number of Internet hosts reaches 16 million


  1. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed.



Copyright © 1995 - 2011 Bernard Kohan

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