Internet History

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  • 1961-1969 The ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was conceived and designed for the US Military. Computers were sited in a large number of different locations across the world so that if up to 90% of them were wiped out in a nuclear attack, the remaining servers would still operate.
  • 1970 The Network Control Protocol (NCP) was completed and implemented on ARPANET sites. This enabled network users to start to develop applications.
  • 1972 saw the first public demonstration of ARPANET and the development of email which enabled messages to be selected, read, forwarded, responded to and filed. Email had the most significant impact of any innovation from this period. It led the way in the rapid expansion of electronic communication, seen later on the World Wide Web.
  • The Internet was based on the idea of multiple networks. It was not designed merely for one application but as an overall infrastructure onto which new applications could be built. The 1970s - early 1980s saw further developments in software and protocols to keep pace with and manage the ever-increasing size of the Internet.
  • By 1985, the Internet was a well established technology. Researchers and developers were now being joined by other communities wanting to use the Internet for regular communication. The first Internet Service Providers were up and running with different email systems able to talk to each other and a communications revolution was well under way.

The idea of a community has been a founding principle of the Internet. It was designed from the start to look at both the underlying infrastructure and the way in which people wanted to use the technology, including commercial use.

  • In 1991, The Internet Society was formed to ensure that commercial activity was open and fair and to encourage increased community support. Since then there has been ongoing structural development designed to support a growing community working together on Internet issues. For example, since 1994, W3C led by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) has taken on the responsibility for developing the various protocols and standards associated with the Web.

Since it first came into existence, the Internet has changed massively. It started as a small group of committed researchers and is now a commercial entity with millions of pounds of annual investment. Its two most widely recognised developments to date are email and the World Wide Web.

The Future of the Internet

How the Internet works