“What we know today as the New World of .com mania is really not so new. Believe it or not, it was the invention and threat of the nuclear bomb that created the need for the Internet. After years of scientific research involving transmitting data between computers, the World Wide Web was born. Today we see the information monster called the Internet on everything from pet food containers to pizza boxes. What is this thing we call the Internet and how did it begin? Back in 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik. This was a first for mankind and sparked a race for technology between the US and USSR. In response, the US created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) inside the Department of Defense. In 1962, the US commissioned a study to find a way to maintain command over the Air Force missiles and bombers that could survive a nuclear attack. One of the primary goals, obviously, was to decentralize the communications medium so that in the event a city was taken out, communication could still be re-routed to its final destination. The result was the creation of a packet switching network. Imagine a message or transmission of data that is broken down in little tiny pieces. Like a train would be to each car. Each car becomes a packet. Each packet is broken apart and sent over the network individually at the sending end, and reassembled at the receiving end. Each packet knows its destination and its order in line in the message. In 1968, ARPA created the first switch. A switch is a computer that filters and forwards packets between computers. This was the method of which if a city was taken out, the switches would know and could re-route data to another switch in the network so the packets would get to their final destination. The first switch linked University of California at Los Angeles, SRI (in Stanford), University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Utah. At this time there were four hosts, or computers, connected on what would become the Internet. In 1972, the first e-mail was sent. ARPA was renamed The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and in 1974, the term Internet was coined by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn in a white paper on Transmission Control Protocol. The protocol, today known as Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), ensures the completed delivery of all the packets if some get lost along the way.In 1983, on January 1st, DARAP declared that every computer connected to it and other networks must use TCP/IP, which is still in use today. It replaced all other network protocols. That same year the University of Wisconsin created Domain Name System (DNS). This is where all the current names as we know them on the Internet come from. Previously all hosts had to be addressed by four sets of digits; something like 18.104.22.168. Now hosts could be named with real names humans could read and not just a series of numbers. Names like http://www.tacomadailyindex.com are now possible. Throughout the 80’s, Internet traffic significantly increased. Most of the developments during this time were about increasing the speed and how much data could be transferred at any one time. In 1992, the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN), created the standards of what would make the World Wide Web (WWW). In 1993, Marc Andreessen, one of the future founders of Netscape, developed the graphics user interface for the WWW. Network Solutions Inc. was awarded the contract to provide the services to centralize all domains, or Internet addresses, for the Internet. NSI then held a monopoly over the world registration of Internet Domain names. Pizza Hut opened its doors on the Internet by being the first company to offer pizza ordering online in 1994. First Virtual also opened its doors and became the first cyberbank. From about 1995 on, the majority of the development of the Internet was done by private industry. Internet companies began to flex their muscle as this new technology began to sweep the globe, and the Internet gold rush began. Netscape successfully made the third largest IPO ever on the NASDAQ. Internet phones, which may be the next best thing to hit the market, scared the daylights out of the telecommunications industry who asked the government to ban them altogether in 1996. Thankfully, the government declined. The Browser War continued between Microsoft and Netscape. This war caused Bill Gates to turn his entire company on its heels in order to compete in the new economy that the Internet brought on. Today, it is nearly impossible to measure the explosive growth of the Internet. Most agree that it’s certainly not slowing down and even more would agree that it’s here to stay. As of 1999 there were 3.6 million sites, showing up at a pace of a whopping 4,400 per day! Currently we are a on pace that the number of Web pages will increase to 8 billion by 2002. The total number of domain registrations is about 8.1 million, which is interesting because the English language has only about 75,000 words in it. What does the future have in store for us? Only time will tell. One thing’s for sure, the world is a much more connected place because of it. “
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