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SEPTEMBER 16, 2021

Internet Invention - A Brief History of the Internet

    Internet Invention

    Unlike most of the other technologies, like that of the printing press or the telephone, the internet was not invented by a single person. Its invention can be traced back to the United States, as long as 50 years from today, at the time of the Cold War. It was then used by the Scientists and the Researchers to communicate and share data with each other. And today, the internet has evolved so much, it’s used for almost everything, and for most people in this second decade of the 21st century, it would be very tough to imagine a life without it.

    Today, 6.8 billion people of the world, i.e. almost one-third of the world use the internet regularly, let’s take a look at the events that led to its invention.

    The Sputnik Scare

    Internet Invention

    The world’s first manmade satellite, Sputnik, was launched into orbit on October 4, 1957, by the Soviet Union. All that the Sputnik did was relaying the blips and bleeps from its radio transmitters while circling the Earth, but it was still something that alarmed the Americans. The concern was mainly that, although their scientists and researchers were making constant progress and designing bigger and better cars and TV sets, the Soviets had set their eyes on something frivolous and that could give them their edge to winning the Cold War.

    The launch of Sputnik made the Americans more serious and they sought-after finding better developments in the field of Science and Technology. Physics, Chemistry and Calculus were added as courses for students in school, to lay a foundation of scientific studies among the coming generations. Government grants were invested in scientific research and development by the Corporations. Agencies like the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were formed by the federal government to develop space-age technologies such as computers, rockets and weapons.

    The Birth of the ARPAnet

    The Birth of the ARPAnet

    What concerned the American scientists the most was what could happen if the Soviets attacked the telephone system of the nation. They feared that their whole network of lines and wires that made their long-distance communication possible and efficient could be destroyed by a single missile.

    J.C.R. Licklider, a scientist from M.I.T. and ARPA, proposed a solution to this problem in 1962, his answer was a “galactic network” of computers that could communicate with each other. This network would enable the major government leaders to communicate even if the telephone lines were attacked.

    Then in 1965, a method called “packet switching” was devised by another M.I.T. scientist, using which you could send information from one computer to another. In Packet Switching, the data was broken into blocks, or packets and then sent to its destination. Thus all the packets could take their own route from place to place. The government’s computer network called the ARPAnet would have been just as vulnerable to enemy attacks as the phone system if not for the packet switching.


    The first message of the ARPAnet was sent on October 29, 1969, which was a “node-to-node” communication from one computer to another. One of the computers was placed in a research lab at UCLA and the other one was at Stanford, both were of the size of a small house.

    The message read, “LOGIN”. It was short and simple but it crashed the fledgling ARPA network.

    Only the first two letters of the note were received by the Stanford computer.

    The Network Grows

    The ARPAnet had only four computers connected to it by the end of 1969, but this network grew steadily in the 1970s.

    ALOHAnet by the University of Hawaii was added to it in 1971, and two years later the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway and London’s University College were added to its network. But as the packet-switched computer networks increased in number, their chances to integrate into a single worldwide “internet” became slimmer and more difficult.

    Vinton Cerf, a computer scientist, began to solve this problem by developing a way for all the computers on different mini-networks around the world to communicate with one another. This was around the end of the 1970s and the invention was called “Transmission Control Protocol” or TCP. Today, it is referred to as TCP/IP.

    The World Wide Web

    Internet Invention

    This protocol by Cerf transformed the internet into a worldwide network which was used throughout the 1980s, by researchers and scientists to send files and data from one computer to another. But then, the internet changed its form again in 1991 with a computer programmer in Switzerland, named Tim Berners-Lee introducing the World Wide Web, i.e. an internet which was not just a medium to send files but a “web” in itself, a web of information that could be retrieved by anyone on the internet. Thus the internet that we know today was created by Berners-Lee.

    The internet has gone through a lot of changes and variations since then. A sophisticated browser called Mosaic was developed by a group of students and researchers at the University of Illinois in 1992, which offered a user-friendly way to search the Web. For the first time, words and pictures could be seen on the same page and you could navigate using scrollbars and clickable links.

    Congress decided that the Web could be used for commercial purposes in the same year. This brought in Companies of all kinds in the market as they hurried to set up their websites. The e-commerce entrepreneurs began using the internet to sell directly to their customers. And recently, we have seen the advent of social networking sites which has become the most popular way for people of all ages to stay connected.

    Expert technical writer who simplifies complex technological concepts for lay audiences. Focused on providing insightful analysis and entertaining listicles on a wide variety of topics in the technology sector.