History of the Internet



What is the Internet

The Internet is a globally distributed network of connected computers that uses a common set of rules, known as a protocol, for linking hardware and transmitting digital information. The Internet is the result of computer research developed in the late 1960’s by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Computer engineers were trying to figure out a way to network government computers so that they could withstand an attack and continue to exchange data reliably, even if parts of the network went down. There could be no single point of failure, no central hub that could be disabled in a nuclear attack.


The history of the Internet began with the development of computers in the 1950s. This began with point-to-point communication between mainframe computers and terminals, expanded to point-to-point connections between computers and then early research into packet switching. Packet switched networks such as ARPANET, Mark I at NPL in the UK, CYCLADES, Merit Network, Tymnet, and Telenet, were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s using a variety of protocols. The ARPANET in particular led to the development of protocols for internetworking, where multiple separate networks could be joined together into a network of networks.

In 1982 the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced. Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when the National Science Foundation (NSF) developed the Computer Science Network (CSNET) and again in 1986 when NSFNET provided access to supercomputer sites in the United States from research and education organizations. Commercial internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and 1990s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. The Internet was commercialized in 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic.

We connect to the Internet through ISPs, who then connect to larger ISPs, and the largest ISPs maintain fiber-optic “backbones” for an entire nation or region. Backbones around the world are connected through fiber-optic lines, undersea cables or satellite links. In this way, every computer on the Internet is connected to every other computer on the Internet.

The Internet consists of:

a.) network system with multiple routes of transmission.
b.) method for transmitting information in chunks called “packets” rather than in a steady stream.

c.) set of networking protocols–rules for transmitting and receiving data that do not depend on the hardware type, known as TCP/IP. Each computer on the Internet must have TCP/IP.

TCP/IP Layer Structure

Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a drastic impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) “phone calls”, two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites. The research and education community continues to develop and use advanced networks such as NSF’s very high speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS), Internet2, and National LambdaRail. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1-Gbit/s, 10-Gbit/s, or more. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment and social networking.

TCP/IP Layer Structure

It is estimated that in 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunication. By 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.


Protocol Layer


Application Layer

Protocols specific to different applications

File Transfer FTP

Transmission Control Protocol Layer TCP directs packets to a specific application on a computer using a port number.
Internet Protocol Layer IP directs packets to a specific computer using an IP address.
Hardware Layer Converts binary packet data to network signals and back.

modem xDSL cable modem
Ethernet PPP fibre channel
ISDN WAP (Wireless)

Client-Server Architecture:

Learner Outcomes

At the completion of this exercise:

you will have a basic understanding of the History of the Internet


Look over Wikipedia “History of the Internet” page and respond to the questions listed below
Look over the enclosed video and respond to the questions listed below.

Who developed the Internet and why?
What is Packet switching
What does ARPANET stand for?
What is TCP/IP?
Describe the benefits of E-mail and Usenet
When was the World Wide Web introduced?

History of the Internet Video

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