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History of the Internet

What we take for granted today was a vague idea 50 years ago. Before 1957 computers only worked at one task at a time this is called batch processing which was ineffective. With computers getting bigger and bigger they had to be stored in special cooled rooms but then developers couldn’t work directly on the computers any more, specialists had to be called in to connect them. Programming at that time meant lot of manual work and the indirect connection to computers led to a lot of bugs and waste of time.

In 1957 a remote connection had to be installed to enable developers to work directly on the computers at the same time the idea of time sharing came up which was the first concept in computer technology to share the processing power of one computer with multiple users.

How the Internet was born

In October 1957 the first satellite Sputnik 1 was sent to orbit by the Soviet Union. In order to secure America’s leading technology the US established the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in February 1958. At that time knowledge was only transferred by people, the DARPA planned a large scale computer network in order to accelerate knowledge transfer and avoid the doubling up of already existing research. This network would become the ARPANET Furthermore 3 more concepts were to be developed which were fundamental in the history of the Internet. The concept of a military network by the RAND corporation in America, a commercial network of the National Physical Laboratory in England and the Scientific Network in France SYCLADES. These 4 networks were the foundation of the modern Internet.

The development of the ARPANET started in 1966. Universities were quite cautious in sharing their computers therefore small computers were put in front of the mainframe. This computer the Interface Message Processor IMP took over control of the network activities while the mainframe was in charge of the initialization of applications and data files. At the same time the IMP served as an interface for the mainframe. For the first connections between the computers the Network Connecting Group developed the Network Control Protocol NCP which was later replaced by the more efficient Transmission Control Protocol TCP. The specific feature of the TCP is the verification of the file transfer. In England since the NPL network was founded on a commercial bases a lot of traffic was expected. In order to avoid congestion of the lines the sent files were divided into smaller packets which were put together again at the receiving end, Packet Switching was born.

In 1962 American aircrafts discovered long range missiles in Cuba which were able to reach the United States, this spelled fear of an atomic conflict. At that time information systems had a centralized networking architecture, to avoid breakdown during attack a decentralized network architecture had to be developed which in case of a loss of a node it would still be operative. SYCLADES development focused on communications with other networks, this way the term inter-net was born. Inspired by SYCLADES and driven by the incompatibility between the networks their connections gained importance everywhere.

The phone companies developed the X.25 protocol which enabled communications through their servers in exchange for a monthly basic charge DARPA TCP protocol was to connect the computers through gateways and the International Organization for Standardization ISO designed the OSI reference model.
The innovation of the OSI model was the attempt to standardize the network from its ends and the channel divisions into separate layers. Finally the TCP assimilated the preferences of the OSI reference model and gave way to the TCP/IP protocol, a standard that guaranteed compatibility between networks and finally merge them creating the Internet. By Feb 1990 the hardware of the ARPANET was removed but the Internet was up and running.

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