Internet Story #AToZChallenge

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I

The Internet

Congratulations for all #AToZChallenge participants, we have went third of the way. We’re already 10th of April, which marks the letter “I” for today’s blog. The letter “I” rings a bell for one of the most important and affecting invention of all ages “The Internet”. 

Not to be confused with the Tim Berners Lee’s invention of the “WWW”. I will tell you the most suitable formal description I found on webopedia for both of them. 

The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers together globally, forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer as long as they are both connected to the Internet. Information that travels over the Internet does so via a variety of languages known as protocols. 

The World Wide Web, or simply Web, is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. It is an information-sharing model that is built on top of the Internet. The Web uses the HTTP protocol, only one of the languages spoken over the Internet, to transmit data. Web services, which use HTTP to allow applications to communicate in order to exchange business logic, use the the Web to share information. The Web also utilizes browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, to access Web documents called Web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Web documents also contain graphics, sounds, text and video.

The Web is just one of the ways that information can be disseminated over the Internet. The Internet, not the Web, is also used for e-mail, which relies on SMTP, Usenet news groups, instant messaging and FTP. So the Web is just a portion of the Internet, albeit a large portion, but the two terms are not synonymous and should not be confused. 

I just needed to clarify this part first because many people think that the Internet and WWW are just one thing. So, for today we are talking about the Internet network invention itself. Let the WWW to the “W” letter. 

Of course we can tell that the Internet is a result of the invention of Computers especially the electronic ones back in the 50s. The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his “Galactic Network” concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much like the Internet of today. Licklider was the first head of the computer research program at DARPA, starting in October 1962. While at DARPA he convinced his successors at DARPA, Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor, and MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts, of the importance of this networking concept. 

In the summer of 1968, the Network Working Group (NWG) held its first meeting chaired by Elmer Shapiro with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) with attendees: Steve Carr, Steve Crocker, Jeff Rulifson, and Ron Stoughton. In the meeting, the group discussed solving issues related to getting hosts to communicate with each other.

In December 1968, Elmer Shapiro with SRI released a report “A Study of Computer Network Design Parameters.” Based on this work and earlier work done by Paul Baraon, Thomas Marill and others; Lawrence Roberts and Barry Wessler helped to create the final version of the Interface Message Processor (IMP) specifications. Bolt Beranek and Newman, Inc. (BBN) was later awarded the contract to design and build the IMP subnetwork. 

August 29, 1969 the first network switch and the first piece of network equipment called “IMP”, which is

short for (Interface Message Processor) is sent to UCLA.  On September 2, 1969 the first data moves from UCLA host to the switch. In the picture to the right, is a picture of Leonard Kleinrock next to the IMP.

Promoted to the head of the information processing office at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Robert Taylor intended to realize Licklider’s ideas of an interconnected networking system. Bringing in Larry Roberts from MIT, he initiated a project to build such a network. The first ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute at 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969. 

The plan was unprecedented: Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data.They would start by typing “login,” and seeing if the letters appeared on the far-off monitor. 

“We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI…,” Kleinrock … said in an interview: “We typed the L and we asked on the phone,

“Do you see the L?”
“Yes, we see the L,” came the response.
“We typed the O, and we asked, “Do you see the O.”
“Yes, we see the O.”
“Then we typed the G, and the system crashed”…

Yet a revolution had begun”…

After that, and till 1973 there were many internet protocols and methods devised to provide communication over a computer network. We had the NPL, Merit Network, CYCLADES, X.25, UUCP, Usenet, ……….. etc. 

1973 marks the first steps for the work on TCP/IP. With so many different network methods, something was needed to unify them. Robert E. Kahn of DARPA and ARPANET recruited Vinton Cerf of Stanford University to work with him on the problem. By 1973, they had worked out a fundamental reformulation, where the differences between network protocols were hidden by using a common internetwork protocol, and instead of the network being responsible for reliability, as in the ARPANET, the hosts became responsible. The specification of the resulting protocol, RFC 675 – Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program, by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine, Network Working Group, December 1974, contains the first attested use of the term internet, as a shorthand for internetworking. 

Stemming from the first specifications of TCP in 1974, TCP/IP emerged in mid-late 1978 in nearly final form. 

That was the spark that initiated the marvelous world we live in today. Of course this is not the whole story, this was only a brief of the origins. If you want to have more insight into the history of this great invention you can have a look on the timeline of the Internet on its Wikipedia page.

 

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