Dial Up to High Speed: The History of the Internet

Dial up to high speed the history of the internet

The advent of Internet has created a revolution in the world of communication because it’s the easiest and speediest mode of communication. The basic concept of communication through sharing data and information, which started with the radio, telex, and telegraph, has undergone a massive change with the introduction of the Internet. The best feature of the Internet is super fast data communication through emails, file sharing, and voice conferencing from any computer to a number of remote computers, connected within a network.

The concept of the Internet was initiated by visionary thinkers in the 1960’s who foresaw a great deal of potential, enabling data and information sharing between computers for speedy advancements in research and development in science and defense. In 1962, the proposal for the first global computer networking system was laid by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT, who later moved to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to lead the project.

The concept of Packet switching, the base of Internet connections, was developed by Leonard Kleinrock of MIT and later by UCLA. In 1965, Lawrence Roberts of MIT first connected a computer of Massachusetts and California through telephone lines using the dial-up system. This enabled the computer networking over a wide area but the inadequacy of telephone circuit switching surfaced out. This factor was emphasized in adopting Kleinrock’s packet switching theory. Lawrence Roberts joined DARPA in 1966 and he laid the foundation of ARPANET, which was the first version of modernized INTERNET.

ARPANET was introduced online in 1969, under a contract headed by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) plus four major computers of major universities like UCLA, University of Utah, UCSB, and Stanford Research Institute. Within 1970 -1971, a number of reputed institutes like Harvard, BBN, MIT, Systems Development Corporation, and NASA also joined.

The early Internet system was not user friendly so its use was restricted to the educated and the enlightened. In 1972, the e-mail concept was adapted by ARPANET, and the credit goes to Tomlinson of BBN, who introduced the symbol @ to link the username and the email address. In the same year, telnet protocol was established as a Request for Comments (RFC), which enabled logging on to remote computers. In 1973, FTP protocols and file-sharing between different web sites were established, which was accessible by anybody who used the FTP protocol.

The Internet application was modified in 1970 with the introduction of the TCP/IP architecture. In 1980, the Defense Department adopted this architecture replacing the Network Control Protocol (NCP). The later years of ‘80s saw the standardized formats of the e-mail, FTP, and Telnet, which made the Internet user friendly to non-technical persons. Though the process was not easy, the use of Internet gained popularity in universities and libraries, where everybody used it to share thoughts and information on a wider basis.

Initially, the limited number of Internet sites made it easier to keep track of the interesting sites. With the increasing number of users through educational institutions and libraries, things became more complex, and there was a serious need of an indexing tool. In 1989, the first Internet indexing tool was created by Peter Deutsch and his team with the use of a software named Archie. Within a short period of time, Brewster Kahle of Thinking Machines created the idea of Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) which helped in indexing the files in a database, allowing file search. In 1990, Peter Scott of the University of Saskatchewan released the modified Hytelnet catalog that brought all the information from library catalogs and other telnet resources under a common searching tool.

The first user friendly Internet interface was launched in 1991, in the University of Minnesota. They developed a user friendly menu system called Gopher, which was adopted by a number of users around the world. It provided an easy way to menu selection simply by typing or clicking a number.

A significant development took place in 1989, with the establishment of a new protocol for information distribution by Tim Berners-Lee and CERN. This protocol was modified as the World Wide Web in 1991. Based on the hypertext, it allowed the embedding of links in texts, which also linked with other texts.

The graphical browser Mosaic was developed in 1993 by Marc Andreesen and his company, which supported this World Wide Web protocol to a great extent. This browser continued to be very popular until the Microsoft Internet Explorer captured the Internet market.

In the beginning, the Internet was sponsored by the government and it was used for research, education, and other government purposes. Commercial online service was first launched by Delphi in the year 1992. In 1995, there was manifold commercial usage of the Internet with the emergence of AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe. In 1998, Microsoft released Windows’98 and the Microsoft browser was integrated with the desktop systems. At the beginning of the 21st century, there was widespread use of Internet with broadband connections sweeping the market with the launching of 56K and other high speed DSL internet modems.

Widespread use of Internet resulted in a massive change in the lifestyle of people through easily accessible domestic connections. Many business organizations have already begun reaping the benefits of the Internet. Establishment of social websites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter have drawn millions of members of all age groups, helping to carry out various types of interactions. It has helped many people explore the new paths and areas through chat rooms, hot mails, yahoo, and Google search engines. In short, the world has become much smaller, but at the same time, much bigger as more and more of us have access to the Internet and the increased availability of internet service providers in both the US and around the world.