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International Internet Day: some interesting facts

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The Internet is undoubtedly one of the greatest technological inventions. However, few people know that the network, or the system, which connects millions of computers around the world, does not have a single “inventor”, unlike technologies such as the light bulb or the telephone. Rather, the Internet has evolved over time.

The internet made its debut in the United States over 50 years ago as a government weapon during the Cold War. For years, researchers have used it to communicate and share data with each other. Today we use the Internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it.

International Internet Day, celebrated on October 29 each year (since 1995), highlights the sending of the 1st electronic message that was transmitted from one computer to another in 1969 and aims to honor this momentous day. in the history of technology.

Charley Kline, who was a student programmer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), discovered that day the transmission of the world’s very first electronic message “LO”. At that time, the Internet was called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

Here is a brief summary of the history of the Internet and its evolution.

The fear of Sputnik and the birth of ARPAnet

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union put the world’s first man-made satellite into orbit. The satellite, known as Sputnik, didn’t do much: it relayed the beeps and beeps of its radio transmitters as it circled the Earth. Yet for many Americans, the beach ball-sized Sputnik was proof of something alarming: as America’s brightest scientists and engineers designed bigger and better cars. televisions, it seemed, the Soviets had focused on less frivolous products. things – and they were going to win the Cold War because of it.

This launch challenged the US Department of Defense to place a high priority on science and technology research and projects and created an agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

Scientists and military experts were particularly concerned about what might happen in the event of a Soviet attack on the country’s telephone system. A single missile, they feared, could destroy the entire network of lines and wires that made effective long-range communication possible.

In 1962, a scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and ARPA named JCR Licklider proposed a solution to this problem: a “galactic network” of computers that could communicate with each other. Such a network would allow heads of government to communicate even if the Soviets destroyed the telephone system.

In 1965, a team of scientists at MIT developed a way to send information from one computer to another that he called “packet switching.” Packet switching breaks data down into blocks, or packets, before sending it to its destination. This way, each package can take its own route from one place to another. Without packet switching, the government’s computer network, now known as ARPAnet, would have been just as vulnerable to enemy attack as the telephone system.

On October 29, 1969, ARPAnet delivered its first message: a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another. (The first computer was located in a research lab at UCLA and the second at Stanford; each was the size of a small house.) The “CONNECT” message was short and simple, but it still crashed the nascent ARPA network. : The Stanford computer received only the first two letters of the note.

The network is growing

By the end of 1969, only four computers were connected to ARPAnet, but the network grew steadily during the 1970s.

In 1971 he added ALOHAnet from the University of Hawaii, and two years later he added networks to University College London and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway. As packet-switched computer networks have proliferated, it has become more difficult for users to integrate into a single global “Internet”.

At that time, computers were actually huge mainframe computers that played an important military role in computing and communications.

Meanwhile, ARPANet had a huge problem. In order to be effective for military and intelligence operations, the network had to be able to communicate with terminals thousands of miles away in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, or any of the 800 dispersed US military bases. in more than 70 countries around the world.

It was a huge challenge. Engineers had to find a way not only to network the widely dispersed military terminals via radio and satellite, but also to connect these wireless nodes to the wired network of ARPANet where the most powerful computers in the country were located.

Getting networks to communicate with each other was much more difficult than networking two or more computers. Each network moved data differently, which ultimately made the transfer of information virtually impossible. Something had to be done – and that’s where two very brilliant ARPA researchers named Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf stepped in.

In 1973, the duo devised a new communications architecture with a universal set of rules that essentially allowed computer networks to speak the same language. They called their invention “Transmission Control Protocol” or TCP. (He later added an additional protocol, known as the “Internet Protocol.” The acronym we use today to refer to them is TCP / IP.) Another in a virtual space.

Within a year, the commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, was introduced. It is widely regarded as the premier ISP (Internet Service Provider).

“When Bob Kahn and I devised the original designs, we distributed them freely, without constraints, without patents, without any further intellectual property claims for a very good reason. We wanted this to be accepted without barriers to adoption, ”Cerf said at a conference.

Later, TCP was married to the Internet Protocol (IP) to form TCP / IP which is still used to this day to exchange data packets between different remote networks. TCP on the sender’s machine splits a message into packets and sends them while IP addresses and forwards those individual packets.

Cerf’s protocol turned the internet into a global network. Throughout the 1980s, researchers and scientists used it to send files and data from one computer to another.

World Wide Web: Internet for all

However, the Internet has changed dramatically since Swiss computer scientists, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, invented the World Wide Web in 1989. From sending files from one system to another, the Internet has become a “network” of people. information accessible to all.

Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. He wanted the Internet to be a universal and free “information space” for sharing knowledge, communicating and collaborating.

There are three main ingredients that make up the World Wide Web. URL (uniform resource locator), which is the addressing scheme for finding a document; HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), which connects computers to each other; and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), which formats pages that contain hyperlinks.

Berners-Lee also created the world’s first web browser and web server. During the 1990s, the number of web browsers produced rapidly multiplied and a whole host of web technologies began to sprout.

The year 1995 was a pivotal year for the Internet: Microsoft launched Windows 95 and Internet Explorer, services like Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay appeared, and Java was created, allowing animation on websites and leading to a new wave of internet activity.

In 1996, Nokia released the Nokia 9000 Communicator, the first cell phone capable of connecting to the Internet.

The World Wide Web has opened the Internet to everyone, not just scientists. He connected the world in a way that made it easier for people to get information, share and communicate. It has since allowed people to share their work and thoughts through social media sites, blogs, video sharing, and more.

People started to use search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to search the web for information. People also use the web for entertainment. In the early 2000s, some of the most popular websites were social networking and shopping sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, and eBay have become household names.

The internet of the future

Since the first Internet connections were established in the late 1950s, the world has undergone a sea of ​​change, powered by the power of the World Wide Web.

The world is now a global city and the Internet is largely responsible for it. Thanks to the power of the web and smartphones, we can now connect with anyone, anytime, anywhere. From basic needs to the greatest luxury, almost all facets of our way of life are now impacted by the Internet. And as we look to the future, dependence on the Internet and its role in our lives are expected to increase, making it a basic human right: everyone should have equal access to information and to the opportunities available from computers connected to the Internet.

Unfortunately, the distribution of access to computing devices and the Internet is uneven. Unfortunately, even to this day, there are still billions of people who do not have access to the Internet. The idea of ​​“digital divide” refers to the growing gap between disadvantaged members of society, especially the poor, rural, elderly and disabled who do not have access to computers or the Internet; and the rich and the middle class, living in the urban and suburban areas that have access to it. The digital divide also continues to grow at an alarming rate.

As big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco, etc. strive to provide Internet access to all corners of the world, many of these projects are still in their infancy. It remains to be seen whether these services can be made affordable enough to be useful to those who need them most.

But the future of the internet could be so exciting that it literally transcends the borders of our planet, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was optimistic about the metaverse while pledging to transform his business into “A metaverse enterprise” over the next five years. or. He sees it as “the next generation of the Internet”.

Imagine an Internet connection with the moons of Mars or Jupiter – an interplanetary Internet… and that day might not be very far away!

(This is an excerpt from Techtonic Shift: A Brief History of Computing and the Web by Sohini Bagchi, Editor, CXOToday.com. The book is published by Orange Publishers and is also available at Amazon.in)


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