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How the Internet Got Started

Oct 08, 1999 912 Words
How The Internet Got Started

Some thirty years ago , the Rand corporation , America's foremost cold
war think tank, faced a strange straegic problem. How could the US authrieties succesfully communicate after a nuclear war?

Postnuclear America would need a comand-and-control network, linked from city to city , state to state, base to base . But no matter how thoroughly that
network was armored or protected , its switches and wiring would always be vulnerable to the impact of atomic bombs. A nuclear attack would reduce any conceivable network to tatters. And how would the network itself be commanded and controlled ? Any central authority, any network central citadel, would be an obvious and immediate target for man enemy missile

. The center of the network
would be the very first place to go.

RAND mulled over this grim puzzle in deep military secrecy, and arrived at a daring solution made in 1964.The principles were simple . The network itself would be assumed to be unreliable at all times . It would be designed from the get-go to tyranscend its all times . It would be designed from the get-go to transcend its own unrreliability. All the nodes from computers in the network would be equal in status to all other nodes , each node with its own authority to originate , pass , and receive

messages. The messages would be
divided into packets, each packet seperatly addressed. Each packet would begin at some specified source node , and end at some other specified destination node . Each packet would wind its way through the network on an individual basis.In fall 1969, the first such node was insalled in UCLA. By December 1969, there were 4 nodes on the infant network, which was named arpanet, after its Pentagon sponsor.

The four computers could even be programed remotely from the other nodes. thanks to ARPANET scientists and researchers could share one another's computer facilities by long -distance . This was a very handy service , for computer- time was precious in the early ‘70s. In 1971 ther were fifteen nodes in Arpanet; by 1972, thirty-seven nodes. And it was good.

As early as 1977, TCP/IP was being used by other networks to link to ARPANET. ARPANET itself remained fairly tightly controlled,at least until 1983,when its military segment broke off and became MILNET. TCP/IP became more common,entire other networks fell into the digital embrace of the Internet,and messily adhered. Since the software called TCP/IP was public domain and he basic technology was decentralized and rather anarchic by its very nature,it as difficult to stop people from barging in linking up somewhere or other. Nobody wanted to stop them from joining this branching complex of networks, which came tobe known as the "INTERNET".

Connecting to the Internet cost the taxpayer little or nothing, since each node was independent, and had to handle its own financing and its own technical requirements. The more, the merrier. Like the phone network, the computer network became steadily more valuable as it embraced larger and larger territories of people and resources. A fax machine is only valuable if everybody eels

a fax machine. Until they do, a fax is just a curiosity.
ARPANET, too was a curiosity for a while. Then computer networking became an utter necessity.

In 1984 the National Science Foundation got into the act,through its office of Advanced Scientific Computing. The new NSFNET set a blisteing pace for technical advancement linking newer, faster, shinier supercomputers, through thicker, faster links,upgraded and expanded,again and again,in l986,l988,l990.And other government agencies leapt in: NASA, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, each of them maintaining a digital satrapy in the INTERNET confederation.

The nodes in this growing network-of-networks were divided up into basic varieties. Foreighn computers,and a few American ones chose to be denoted by their geographical locations. The others were grouped by the six basic Internet domains --gov, {government} mil {military}edu{education} these were of course, the pioneers Just think, in l997 the standards for computer networking is now global. In 1971, there were only four nodes in the ARPANET network. Today there are tens of thousands of nodes in the Internet,scattered over forty two countries and more coming on line every single day. In estimate, as of December,l996 over 50 million people use this network. Probably, the most important scientific instrument of the late twentieth century is the INTERNET. It is spreading faster than celluar phones,faster than fax machines. The INTERNET offers simple freedom. There are no censors,no bosses,etc. There are only technical rules, not social, political,it is a bargain you can talk to anyone anywhere,and it doesn't

charge for long distance service. It belongs to
everyone and no one.

The most widely used part of the "Net" is the world Wide Web. Internet mail is E mail a lot faster than the US Postal service mail Internet regulars call the US mail the "snailmail" File transfers allow Internet users to access remote machines and retrieve programs or text. Many internet computers allow any person to acess them anonymously to simply copy their public files,free of charge. Entire books can be transferred through direct access in a matter of minutes.

Finding a link to the Internet will become easier and cheaper. At the turn of the century, Network literacy will be forcing itself into every individuals life.

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