Lecture 4 – Brief History of the Internet

Its difficult to think that there was a time without the internet. You couldn’t see what your friends were up to on Facebook, there was no Google to answer your questions and there wasn’t any YouTube to waste heaps of your time. Its weird to think that this world ran without world wide web because its such an important part of todays society and forever will be.

So how and when did the internet come about?

The internet started in the 1960’s when packet-switching networks came into operation. Transmitted data is broken up into small packets of data, which is sent and then reassembled at the arrived destination. This allows a single signal to be routed to multiple users, and an interrupted packet can be resent without losing the transmission. Packets are able to compressed to speed up the sending time and they can also be encrypted for security purposes.

This was done so government researchers would be able to share information. Back then the computers weren’t as mobile as they are today. Back in the 60’s the computers were the size of a room. In order to access the information that was stored in these computers, you had to actually go to the place where the computer was situated or you could have magnetic computer tapes sent through post.

The cold war played a major part in the formation of the internet. The Soviet Unions launch of the satellite really pushed the US government, specifically, the defense department to consider new ways of spreading information even after a nuclear attack. This lead to the birth of the “Advanced Research Project Agency Network or ARPNET. ARPANET is what eventually evolved into what we know now as the internet. But this network was limited as only certain academic and research organizations had access to the networks, through contracts with the defense department. Other networks were then created to provide information sharing to a larger audience.

Jan 1st 1983 is considered to be the official birthday of the internet. A new communication protocol was established called the Transfer Control Protocol/ Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP) allowing different computers across different networks to essentially “talk”, meaning all networks were now connected through a universal language.ARPANET and the Defense Data Network decided to change to the TCP/IP standard, which is why it is this date that is considered as the official birth of the internet.


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