History of the Internet

In this week’s lecture we discussed the evolution of the Internet since it’s beginnings around the era of WW2. I found this topic interesting, as I wasn’t aware of the background that surrounded the Internet’s invention. But as always, there was a reason…

Creating networks is like architecture. Designing pathways to build connections. War has been an innovator and the grim topic forced people to invent. The Internet was made as a survival strategy. In the 1960s in the era of the Cold War, The US needed a new safer way to secretly transmit important information. They hid that information using numbers and codes in multiple paths known as ARPANET. Messages were divided into packets and these packets would be transmitted through different routed to their destination. Imagine, a web of wires and databases that was purely designed to keep information from an enemy. However, in doing so, they had designed a new method of communication that would completely revolutionise communication in the world, starting just a decade later.

The paramount idea behind the Internet was that a network is much more difficult to destroy than a physical centre storing information. Everything was hidden and dispersed using technology. Computer networks had survivability. In the 1960s, the military only had a few computers and they were huge. Soon, Universities and libraries began to use these computers and would receive grants and military funding. Back then, a computer could take up a whole floor in a building!

The 1970s can be noted as the ‘information age’. The growth of ARPANET through the 70s began to connect America up. The first every email was sent in 1971, and buy 1972, emails took up 75% of all network traffic (which as this point was still only about 100 people…). In the late 70s, personal computers were being invented and showcased to the public courtesy of Apple and IBM. I suppose this is were the Apple/PC differentiation started, with Apple founder Steve Jobs’ presentations appealing to emotional values, compared to Bill Gates’, who sold the idea of practicality.

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I was surprised when I learnt that gaming consoles were invented and used as a way to create a pathway to introducing personal computers into the family home in a non threating way. At this point, people weren’t used to having this technology around them, so gaming consoles such as Atari Pinball and Nintento NES were invented and introduced.

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From here to where we are now, this technology snowballed into becoming a tool we now couldn’t operate without. It seems very surreal to me.

So, back in the 1980s, computers were being domesticated.  Play, infotainment, interactivity were set out as key words for the future.

In the 1990s, a beautiful thing we know as the World Wide Web began to surface and began to be commonly used. Multimedia websites boomed whilst emailing became a real alternative to phone calls and letters.

In the 2000s, the Internet truly became a shared space through user generated content. The term used to describe this new collaborative sharing of information online was Web 2.0. The is a key element to the technology of computers and the Internet, because now anyone could share, communicate, create and collaborate on the World Wide Web.

Just take a moment to think about where we are all at now. We use this technology every singe day, and the world, as we know it wouldn’t be the same without it. Imagine children growing up now who have never lived without the Internet! I’m excited but also slightly scared to see how technology evolves in the next 50 years. What new pathways will be created? The networked structure and architecture that surrounds the Internet is now, invincible.


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