Most people consider the Internet a relatively new invention, but is has actually been in existence in one form or another since the mid-20th Century. The term “Internet” is used to describe any network using TCP/IP. The “original Internet” was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Nework (ARPANET), and was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It was used to share defense-related research between defense research facilities and universities. It originally offered only email, Usenet, and FTP site capability. Scientists and researchers were able to pose questions and answers that could be shared among those with access.
The concept of the Internet was created in 1964 and implemented in 1969 when messages were passed between the Stanford Research Institute and UCLA. Leonard Kleinrock of MIT was the first to publish a paper related to networking computers and the concept of the Internet. His theory of packet switching played a vital role in the development of the Internet. Packet switching allows data to be “routed” from one place to another based on address information carried in the data, much like the address on a letter. Packet switching replaces “circuit switching,” which is the process of an electrical circuit being established between a source and its destination. Circuit switching was the idea behind traditional telephone exchanges. In addition to Kleinrock, sometimes considered “the father of the Internet,” J.C.R. Licklider created the concept of an Internet-like worldwide network of computers. He called his idea the “Galactic Network.”
The first communications protocol, TCP/IP, was developed by Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn in 1974. The Ethernet, which is the basic communication standard on network computers was developed by Robert Metcalfe. Tim Berners-Lee was responsible for the linguistic construction of HTML and is credited with making the Internet “easier” to use and accessible to the public. He is often recognized as the person responsible for the Internet of today, but no more deserves individual credit as the Internet’s inventor than anyone else who played a vital role in its development.
Public Use of the Internet
In addition to the concept of the Internet, there were also people who developed ways to bring the Internet to the general public and turn it into what it is today. Larry G. Roberts created the first functioning long-distance computer networks and was responsible for the design of ARPNET. Radia Perlmann created the spanning tree algorithm, which created an efficient bridge between separate networks. This makes large-scale networks such as the Internet possible.
The Internet as it is used today was originally a hotly contested topic. Commercial use of the Internet was forbidden, but things eventually changed. During the 1980s the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies were created and included PSINet, UUNE, Portal Software, and Netcom. UUCP email and Usenet News became available to the genera public during this time. The first commercial dial-up ISP, known as The World, became available in 1989.