The advent of the internet revolutionized the world of computers and communications incomparably. Today, it is represented as one of the most successful products of sustained investment and commitment towards research and development in information structure. The internet has the ability for world-wide broadcasting, a mechanism to disseminate information as well as serve as a medium for collaboration between computers, irrespective of their geographical location.
The stage for this ever-evolving internet technology was set by the invention of the radio, telephone, telegraph and the computer followed by an integration of their capabilities. As can be expected, the invention of this expansive technology cannot be attributed to a single individual but rather to the works of a dozens of pioneering engineers, scientists and programmers; they each developed new features that were eventually integrated together to become the ‘information superhighway’ as we know it today.
The history of the internet began with the introduction of the first electronic computers in the 1950’s with the first prototype of the internet coming into existence in the late 1960’s with the creation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). The first message sent over the ARPANET was the amalgamation of the hard work of the US government’s Department of Defense and scholars from four universities located in UK, France and the US.
It was the early research into ‘packets switching’ and ‘packet network systems’ that popularized the idea of an ‘Intergalactic Network’ of computers. This concept of effective transmission of electronic data later became one of the major building-blocks of the internet. Though ARPANET is the research product of the ‘Cold War’ and was funded by the US, the technology which allowed numerous computers to communicate over a single network continued to grow into the 1970s when Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf created the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol that sets standards on transfer of data between different networks.
This was the stepping stone to the creation of ‘Network of Networks’ which then evolved into the modern internet. Our online world started taking on a more comprehensive shape in the 1990s when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. The web is the commonest way of accessing online data via internet websites and hyperlinks. Today, this web has developed into an unending trove of information that the human population across the globe accesses on a daily basis – without thinking of how it originated in the first place! So what began as an initiative of the US military computer network program has now become a global communication tool that helps millions of computer networks share a common addressing scheme. Today, the internet has become a crucial tool for online information, entertainment, commerce and social networking.