Some Fascinating History of the Internet

Category: Reference

The history of computing and the story of how the Internet was invented are fascinating subjects to me. After doing some reading and research on early computers and Internet history, I've put together some excellent links that you can explore to learn more at your leisure...

A Brief Internet History Lesson

When I was a middle school student in the 1970s, I would read every book on computers that I could find. In high school, I learned BASIC and FORTRAN while banging away on a Teletype connected to a mainframe computer 45 miles away. It wasn't until I entered college in 1980 that I learned about the Internet. And I'm still learning about computers and this amazing network of networks.

Here's a little history of the Internet, along with a brief summary of how it is managed today. ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a cooperative effort of the U.S. Department of Defense, several universities, and private corporations. On October 29, 1969, the first message was sent over the Internet. At the 50th Anniversary of the Internet event, some of those Internet pioneers gathered to share memories of that day, and the work that went on before and after. Some of those videos are worth watching, especially #4 and #8.

By the early 1980s, a set of standards for connecting diverse networks around the world was developed, and became known as the Internet. In 1992, The Internet Society was formed as a non-profit organization to provide leadership for the development and use of the Internet. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which operates under the auspices of the Internet Society, develops and promotes Internet standards and protocols. In 1998, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed to coordinate the management of Internet Domain Name System (DNS), pursuant to an agreement with the IETF. globally, and manages the root DNS servers.

Internet History

But without computers, the Internet might have ended up as an unsightly series of pneumatic tubes spanning the globe. So let's give credit where it's due, and start at the beginning. The History Of Computing Project offers a timeline of the major events in the history of computers, biographies of computer pioneers, and even a history of video games. I was intrigued to read about early computing devices developed in the 1620s!

Hobbes' Internet Timeline gives a brief history of Internet milestones from 1957 tp 2017. Kind of geeky, but still lots of interesting stats.

"Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet" tells the story of the origins of the Internet, based on interviews with the people who made it happen. Perhaps you've never heard of Leonard Kleinrock, Bob Taylor, Vint Cerf or J.R. Licklider, but after reading this book you'll want to thank them. It's actually a riveting account that you won't want to put down until you've finished reading it!

The Internet Society's History Of The Internet page offers a long list of articles about the history of the Internet, the Web and Usenet. Of particular interest are the ISOC's Brief History of the Internet.

The Internet Archive has been taking "snapshots" of Internet sites since 1996 and stashing them away for posterity. If you want to see what Yahoo.com looked like on October 17, 1996, or the first iteration of Google, it's in there. Over 400 billion pages have been stored in the Internet Archive's database. Using the Wayback Machine is a wonderful walk down memory lane if you've been online for a few years.

Had enough history? You might also enjoy my article Bob Explains: How Does The Internet Work? Did you know that in some cases, sneakers or tractor trailers are used to transport large volumes of data? Check it out!

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Email:

Check out other articles in this category:



Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 10 Feb 2020


For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
Do You Know Your Computer's Worst Enemy?

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
[SPEED] How Fast Is Your PC?

Most recent comments on "Some Fascinating History of the Internet"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Reed Davis
10 Feb 2020

I began my career in computing in 1964 operating a Univac 1103A vacuum tube computer in NM. I retired from IT in 2011. What a wonderful career of being an “early adapter” through several programming languages (FORTRAN, COBOL, APL, BASIC, Unix, ADA, etc. ), managing a node on the NSFNet at WestNet and MidNet, and being a participant and witness to the acceptance and growth of this wonderful (albeit) frustrating field of technology. I have indeed been blessed!


Posted by:

David
10 Feb 2020

I had the old internet back in the early to mid 80s. I could remote into the DEC at work, switch host to the UNIX box, then connect to a university computer then jump to CWRU, where I received the ASCII graphic of the campus. check my email then gopher to most anywhere. No ads so things moved well even with a 300 baud acoustic modem.


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
10 Feb 2020

My first inkling of the "internet" was when hospitals across the nation started "talking to each other." It was a method of communication that was vital to healthcare and patients.


In 1996, I got my very first computer and learned what was needed to maintain my computer. It took me a long time to understand "networking" and what was possible. I have since learned, though I am far from an expert. I am simply comfortable around a network, now.


The Internet has expanded to something truly beyond itself. The IOT is still in its infancy. Will it come to pass, before I pass??? It has to some extent but not far enough.


Do I want an IOT, no I do not. I am not interested in that concept. I want my life less complicated, than an IOT.


Posted by:

Old Xeroid
10 Feb 2020

As one of 6 Regional NIE's (Network Installation Engineers) working for Xerox, I installed countless feet of RG-8 "thick co-ax" in the ceilings of NSA, the Pentagon, National Capitol, and the White House. Network equipment (servers, workstations, printers, etc) were attached to the cable with CS/MA-CD transceivers tapped into the co-ax every 2.5 meters. Our LASER printers were the only device available that could put President Carter's complete daily schedule on an 8 1/2 x 14 inch sheet of paper. By not seeing Wi-Fi coming, Xerox "fumbled the future" and lost that entire market that it had created.


Posted by:

MikieB
10 Feb 2020

I cut my teeth on an IBM 1401 computer that wasn't much more than a card sorter: A what?!! From that I went on to a Honeywell 800 mainframe hulk. I have even WALKED inside a computer while in the Air Force. Lots of vacuum tubes: WHAT again?


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
10 Feb 2020

Many years ago I went to a presentation about the future of computing. The presenter was Grace Hopper. She handed out a piece of wire 11.8 inches long to each person there. It represented how far electricity travels in a wire in one nanosecond. The point she was making was that the future would be computer parallelism because electricity can only go so fast. Another example she gave was a farmer with a huge tree stump to pull out of a field. If one oxen was not powerful enough to do it, the farmer didn't grow a bigger oxen. The farmer harnessed two or three oxen together to pull the stump.

Here is more information about Grace Hopper and her visualization of a nanosecond:
https://hackaday.com/2012/02/27/visualizing-a-nanosecond/


Posted by:

Charley
10 Feb 2020

Henry, Al Gore actually had an involvement with the Internet. He introduced a bill in congress to continue funding the Internet, "the information superhighway" as he called it. Later on, in an interview he said “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”

The claim that Gore was actually trying to take credit for the “invention” of the Internet was plainly just derisive political posturing that arose out of a close presidential campaign.

Also, Gore was one of the few members of congress who actually understood the value of the early Internet.

For more see https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/internet-of-lies/


Posted by:

LoJohJr
10 Feb 2020

Well, I see your note to post only if you want to ask a question, but I want to post this anyway. You know something, Bob - well, know this - for those of us not too I T savvy, but who, thanks to your wonderful newsletter we enjoy and benefit from so much, now at least know a little of the ABCs of the internet and computers - we would put your name - BOB RANKIN - right at the top in front of Leonard Kleinrock, Bob Taylor, Vint Cerf or J.R. Licklider - after all, for a lot of us, YOU originated (for us, anywho) the internet AND computers!!! Thanks so much for all you have done and still do for us, the I T challenged!!!


Posted by:

Dave Smart
10 Feb 2020

I recommend the coursera.org course Internet History, Technology and Security.The lead instructor is "Chuck" Severance at the University of Michigan. The course is free for audit online.


Posted by:

bb
10 Feb 2020

In her later years retired RDML Grace Hopper, when employed by DEC, gave out "PicoSeconds", an follow-on to her nano-seconds. It was a package of pepper. I have a signed package to include with my 11.8" wire.

I'm "RWB2", from when every ARPANET (or was it DARPANET - I fergit when the change was) was given a unique ID from the NIC (Network Information Center.) Till I die I will wonder who RWB and RWB1 were. The last time I checked, ~30 years ago, they were up to RWB934 or so.


Posted by:

Dave Leippe
11 Feb 2020

From my reads, it appears that the Internet evolved from early intranets, then Internet hook ups for the sending o9f electronic mail. One of the early studies of early network traffic found that 80% of the traffic was electronic mail, eventually re named email.
Al Gore did play an important part in the creation of the legislation, funding, and management of what became the Internet.
Besides we wouldn't have "algorithms" if it weren't for Al Gore...


Posted by:

Phil Thomas
11 Feb 2020

In 1984 while working for the Cleveland Indians, I personally purchased a Kaypro 2X batched system for $2,500.00. My wife almost killed me! I took the luggable to work and used it in my Player Development & Scouting job. One day our President, Peter Bavasi, came by and asked when we got a computer. I said we didn't and it was mine. Later he came back and told me to see the Indians' V.P. of Finance. He said the Indians just purchased my computer, but I could use it. I later became the Tribe's first I.T. Manager.


Posted by:

Phil Bowler
11 Feb 2020

I hope fellow readers will not fall into the trap of thinking the Internet is an entirely American achievement, however important the US contributions have been. One of many important European contributions is mentioned in this recent obituary: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/feb/09/peter-kirstein-obituary
The Internet’s greatest value, constantly under threat from authoritarian governments, is its global reach.


Posted by:

Joseph
11 Feb 2020

My first sight of a computer was in the early 60s at the satellite tracking station at Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall, England. Huge. It closed in 2006. I was asked to view some Philips attempts at micro computing a few years later but they were glorified adding machines. The first real computer I actually used, at the Bank of Israel, had multiple operators but no screen. After dabbling with some tiny Sinclairs using a TV for a screen and a cassette recorder for a disk I bought my first PC, a Televideo from California not Taiwan, in 1985, since which time I have owned countless numbers of them. Today it's back to cigarette-pack size.


Posted by:

Joseph
11 Feb 2020

I am still trying to work out how the yellow-on-black screened one-piece Televideo, which died after four years for lack of a replacement 6-wire keyboard, managed to play a 5.25" floppy disk of a Madonna song quite well (yes she is that old), the last thing I did with it before junking it "just to see what happens", considering it had no sound card and had never managed more than a beep until then. And how in tarnation did they manage to get a whole song into a floppy?


Posted by:

Steve Hyams
11 Feb 2020

On June 21st, 1948, at Manchester University, UK, shortly after 11 o'clock in the morning, the world's first stored-program electronic digital computer successfully executed its first program. That program was written by Tom Kilburn who, along with Freddie Williams designed and built the machine. The Manchester Baby, also known as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), was the world's first electronic stored-program computer


Posted by:

Norman Rosen
11 Feb 2020

Watched Video 4 as you suggested. Incredibly fascinating. My first experience with a computer was in 1965; the instructor said I want you to understand they are fast but stupid and if they do not give you the right answer, it is alright to kick them.


Posted by:

TN
12 Feb 2020

I started using BITNET e-mail from an IBM 3081 mainframe running VM/CMS in 1988. In 1992 or 1993 a coworker showed me a web page on NCSA Mosaic 1.0. I remember telling him, "That will never catch on." :-)


Posted by:

Phil Bowler
12 Feb 2020

This programme on BBC Radio 4, an interview with optical communications pioneer Polina Bayvel, gives a fascinating insight into the development of the optical fibre cables that enables the high-speed broadband that lay people like me take for granted:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000f5fz


Posted by:

RandiO
21 Feb 2020

I miss the dial tone and the sweet music (AT-commands) during the dial-up of my very first 1200bps modem.


There's more reader feedback... See all 22 comments for this article.

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! Comments of a political nature are discouraged. Please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are reviewed, and may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderator.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.


Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter

Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy     RSS/XML


Article information: AskBobRankin -- Some Fascinating History of the Internet (Posted: 10 Feb 2020)
Source: https://askbobrankin.com/some_fascinating_history_of_the_internet.html
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved