ck. In laboratories on eitherside of the continent a small group of computer scientists were quietly changingthe future of communication.
Their goal was to build a computer network thatwould enable researchers around the country to share ideas (Kantrowitz 56). TheInternet we make so much today — the global Internet which has helped scholarsso much, where free speech is flourishing as never before in history — theInternet was a cold war military project. It was designed for purposes of militarycommunication in a United States devastated by a Soviet nuclear strike. Originally, the Internet was a post-apocalypse command grid (Tappendorf 1). The threat of nuclear war was a tangible, and frightening, possibility during thecold war period.
In the 1960s the Vietnam War was grabbing all of the headlines. The history books describe the decade as brimming with social unrest andchange. This decade also witnessed the birth of a military experiment that was toevolve into what we now call the Net (Net 1). The history of the Internet beginswith the research and development, RAND, group in 1966. Paul Baran wascommissioned by the United States Air Force to do a study on how it couldmaintain its command control over its missiles and bombers, after a nuclearattack.
Baran’s finished document described several ways to accomplish thistask. What he finally proposes is a packet switched network (Tappendorf 2). Packet switching is a method of fragmenting messages into sub-parts calledpackets, routing them to their destinations and reassembling them. Packetizinginformation has several advantages.
It facilitates allowing several users to sharethe same connection by breaking up the data into discrete units which can berouted separately. Because no transmission medium is 100% reliable, packetswitching allows one bad packet to be re-sent while other good packets areuninterrupted in their transmission (Hardy 6). Packets may carry informationabout themselves, where they have been and where they are going. In addition,packets may be compressed for speed and size advantages or encrypted forsecurity.
Most packets carry some sort of internal check for consistency that helpsto weed out bad packets. Packetizing data has advantages in overcoming certaininherent bandwidth and speed constraints, particularly in older network andmodem based communication (Hardy 6). The early pioneers of AdvancedResearch Projects Agency network, ARPAnet, wanted to create a network thatwas robust, reliable, and did not have a single point of failure. A single point offailure would be a network designed with one device that was the master node,or controlling device, for the network. This leads to problems in that when themaster node goes down, the whole entire network is lost. These early pioneers ofARPAnet acknowledged this single point of failure concept, in turn, created anetwork that had no central controlling device; rather, it was made up ofindividual devices, or nodes that all worked together and participated on thenetwork.
Although these first networks consisted of few machines, it laid thefoundation for things to come (Boyce 492). The reliable networking partinvolved dynamic rerouting. If one of the network links were to become disruptedby enemy attack, the traffic on it could automatically be rerouted to other links. Fortunately, the net rarely has come under enemy attack. But an errant backhoecutting a cable is just as much of a threat, so it’s important for the net to bebackhoe resistant (Levine 12). Starting with the ARPAnet the government beganresearching ways to exchange information among various government siteslocated in the United States.
The research and implementation of ARPAnet led tothe early beginnings of the Internet. This network allowed government officials atvarious sites to exchange files, documents, and messages with one another, eventhough they were physically separated by many miles (Boyce 492). In 1969, whatwould later become the Internet was founded. It contrasts sharply with today’sInternet. The ARPAnet network had four machines on it, linked together with apacket switched network. Soon afterward other government agencies becameinterested in this new network; Department of Defense, NASA, National ScienceFoundation, and the Federal Reserve Board.
Because of this new interest and thefact that ARPAnet was growing, now 24 nodes in 1972, Information ProcessingTechniques Office, IPTO, began to look to other ways to transmit data other thanthrough a wire. Two projects were launched to settle these needs. The first wasthe use of satellites for data transmission. IPTO quickly learned that it would bepossible to send data via satellite and went into negotiations with the board ofdirectors of International Telecommunications Satellite Organization. The secondproject was for radio transmitted data.
It soon also became apparent that a packetswitched radio network for mobile computing would be possible. In 1976, thepacket satellite project went into practical use. Atlantic packet Satellite network,SATNET, was born. This network linked the United States with Europe.
Thisnetwork was interesting in that it used commercial Intelsat satellites that wereowned by the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization asopposed to government military satellites (Tappendorf 2). In the same year a mancalled Ray Tomlinson created an e-mail program that could send personalmessages across the network. Seems harmless enough, but this developmentplayed an important role in the nets evolution by helping it move further awayfrom its military roots. The academics with access to the system were using itpredominantly to communicate with colleagues, and their messages were notalways about research. Mailing lists on a variety of subjects proved to be verypopular (Net 2). In 1973, the United States Defense Advanced Research ProjectsAgency, DARPA, initiated a research program to investigate techniques andtechnologies for interlining packet networks of various kinds.
The objective wasto develop communication protocols which would allow networked computers tocommunicate transparently across multiple, linked packet networks. This wascalled the Internetting Project and the system of networks which emerged fromthe research was known as the Internet. The system of protocols which wasdeveloped over the course of this research effort became known as the TCP/IPprotocol suite, after the two initial protocols developed: Transmission ControlProtocol, TCP, and Internet Protocol, IP (Liener 1). In 1976 the Department ofDefense, began to experiment with this new protocol and soon decided to requireit for use on ARPAnet. January 1983 was the date fixed as when every machineconnected to ARPAnet had to use this new protocol (Tappendorf 3).
In additionto the selection of TCP/IP for the NSFNET program, Federal agencies made andimplemented several other policy decisions which shaped the Internet of today(Leiner 11). The creation of the TCP/IP protocol made possible the text basedNet communications systems so popular today, including electronic mail,discussion lists, file indexing, and hypertext. E-mail, of course, is the mostwidely used of the Net services, the most convenient and the most functional(Diamond 42). The backbone had made the transition from a network built fromrouters out of the research community to commercial equipment. In its 8 1/2 yearlifetime, the backbone had grown from six nodes with 56 kbps links to 21 nodeswith multiple 45 Mbps links.
It had seen the Internet grow over 50,000 networkson all seven continents and outer space, with approximately 29,000 networks inthe United States (Leiner 12). Widespread development of Lans, Pcs, andworkstations in the 1980s allowed the nascent Internet to flourish. Ethernettechnology, developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC in 1973, is nowprobably the dominant network technology in the Internet, and Pcs andworkstations the dominate computers. This change from having a few networkswith a modest number of time- shared hosts, the original ARPAnet model, tohaving many networks has resulted in a number of new concepts and changes tothe underlying technology. First, it resulted in the definition of three networkclasses A, B, and C to accommodate the range of networks.
Class A representedlarge national scale networks, a small number of networks with large number ofhosts; Class B represented regional scale networks; and Class C representedlocal area networks, a large number of networks with relatively few hosts(Leiner 8). Beginning around 1980, university computing was moving from asmall number of large time-sharing machines, each of which served hundreds ofsimultaneous users, to a large number of smaller desktop workstations forindividual users. Because users had gotten used to the advantages of time-sharingsystems, such as shared directories of files and e-mail, they wanted to keep thosesame facilities on their workstations (Levine 12). Workstation manufacturesbegan to include the necessary network hardware also, so all anyone had to do toget a working network was to string a cable to connect the workstations,something that universities could do inexpensively because they usually could getstudents to do it (Levine 13). In 1983, the ARPAnet was split into ARPAnet andMILnet.
The latter was integrated into the Defense Data Network created in1982. ARPAnet was taken out of service in 1990. ARPAnet’s role as networkbackbone was taken over by NSFNET which may in time be supplanted by theNational Research and Educational Network, NREN (Hardy 8). In 1988, in aconscious effort to test Federal policy on commercial use of Internet, thecorporation for National research Initiatives approached the Federal NetworkingCouncil for permission to experiment with the interconnection of MCI Mail withthe Internet. An experimental electronic mail relay was built and put intooperation in 1989, and shortly thereafter Compuserve, ATTMail, and Sprintmail,followed suit.
Once again, a far-sighted experimental effort coupled with wisepolicy choice stimulated investment by industry and expansion of the nation’sinfrastructure. In the past few years, commercial use of the Internet has exploded(Cerf 5). The Internet is experiencing exponential growth in the number ofnetworks, number of hosts, and volume of traffic. NSFNET backbone traffic morethan doubled annually from a terabyte per month in March 1991 to 18 terabytes, aterabyte is a thousand bytes, a month in November 1994.
The number of hostcomputers increased from 200 to 5,000,000 in the 12 years between 1983-1995– a factor of 25,000 (Cerf 5). In an extraordinary development, the NSFNETbackbone was retired at the end of April 1995, with almost no visible effortsfrom the point of view of users. This left all of the hard work to be handled by theInternet service providers. A fully commercial system of backbones has beenerected where a government sponsored system once existed. Indeed, the keynetworks that made the Internet possible are now gone — but the Internet thrives(Cerf 6). In 1990, Hyper Text Markup Language, HTML, a hypertext Internetprotocol which would communicate the graphic info on the Internet, wasintroduced.
Each individual could create graphic pages, a website, which thenbecame part of a huge, virtual hypertext network called the World Wide Web. The enhanced Internet was informally renamed the Web and a huge additionalaudience was created (Wendell 1). The initial development of the Web waslimited to text; it did not have the multimedia capabilities of today’s browsers. Despite this, Tim Lee’s project was the basis for later developments.
In 1992, hissoftware was released to the public. Its popularity grew steadily, but by February1993, the Web still only accounted for 0. 1 per cent of all Internet traffic. Whenwe first connected to the Internet through a university account it was a blandtextual world. At this point in time it had not become the major attraction that it istoday (Net 3).
One of the major forces behind the exponential growth of theInternet is a variety of new capabilities in the network — particularly directory,indexing, and searching services that help users discover information in the vastsea of the Internet. Many of these services have started as university researchefforts and evolved into businesses. Examples include the Wide Area InformationService, Archie, LYCOS from Carnegie Mellon, YAHOO from Stanford, andINFOSEEK. Aiding and stimulating these services is the recent arrival of a killerap for the Internet: the World Wide Web (Cerf 6). The Web is a hypertext systemwhich has the ability to link documents together.
Hypertext is not a new idea, in1945 Vaneavear Bush, the science adviser to president Eisenhower came up withthe idea of a machine that would not only store vast amounts of information, butalso allow readers to link related information. In 1968, the eccentric Ted Nelsoncoined the term hypertext, and real efforts were finally made to create workingmodels. Ted Nelson went on to found the overly ambitious Xanadu project, butthe first real system accessible to the public was developed by Apple computersas late as 1987 (Net 2). The development of Tim Lee’s World Wide Web projectbecoming the most successful hypertext system was largely due to softwaredevelopments that dramatically improved its look and interface.
The majorbreakthrough came in June 1993, with the release of the Mosaic browser forWindows. It was created by the National Center for SupercomputingApplications. The initial versions of Mosaic are very similar to the browsers weuse today. With this new development the Web became far more popular. By1994, the Web accounted for most of the traffic across the net. In 1995, NetscapeCommunications Corp.
was founded by Mark Andreessen and others involved inthe original Mosaic project. The new Netscape browser ushered in a new era forthe Internet. The fact that Microsoft is now trying to get a piece of this market istestimony to the part that Mosaic and Netscape have played in the Web’scommercial and popular appeal (Net 2). The development of HTML and theMosaic browser led to the explosion of Internet usage of the World Wide Web inparticular. But the World Wide Web is not the only aspect of the Internet that hasgrown since 1983.
E-mail still remains the most used application on the Internet. Other usage of the Internet includes: FTP (File Transfer Protocol), Usenet(Internet newsgroups), Archie, Gopher, Telnet, and IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Itis all of these applications together that have led to the growth of the Internet. Today, there are more than 30 million users who are using the Internet. This is a6,000 percent increase over the number of users who were using the Internet in1983 (Boyce 493). As of May 1995, there were over 30,000 Web sites on theInternet and the number is doubling every two months.
companies that wereformerly unsure about the utility of the Internet have rushed to use the Web as ameans of presenting products and services. The rest of the 1990s belongs to thecontent providers, who will use the rapidly evolving infrastructure to bringincreasingly sophisticated material to consumers (Cerf 6). The explosive growthof the Internet has involved millions of individual users with modem-equippedpersonal computers. The prime cause of the boom has been development of afar-flung World Wide Web service — a collection of several hundred thousandindependent computers, called Web servers, scattered worldwide. There aremore than 30 million users and two million computers on the Internet.
The webhas grown to more than 50 million public pages with millions more private pagesbehind corporate firewalls (Curtis 9). In Anthony Curtis’s timeline he states thatBob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, has predicted a meltdown on the Internet,citing alarming usage figures. Bob Metalfe said that in the first half of 1996, 3. 5million new hosts were added to the already-congested conglomeration ofInternet networks.
Netscape alone gets 80 million hits on its Web site each day. America On- Line, Netcom and small Internet service providers haveexperienced serious network crashes and extensive down times for theirservices. A full 30 percent of telephone calls to service providers get a busysignal. The rate of growth is a giant tsunami nearing the shores of ouraccessibility to unlimited information (Curtis 10). The Internet has changed muchin the two decades since it came into existence. It was conceived in the era oftime-sharing, but has survived into the era of personal computers, client- server,peer-to-peer computer, and the network computer.
It was designed before LANsexisted, but has accommodated that new network technology. It was envisionedas supporting a range of functions from file sharing and remote login to resourcesharing and collaboration, and has spawned electronic mail and ,more recently,the World Wide Web. But most important, it started as the creation of a smallband of dedicated researchers, and has grown to be a commercial success withbillions of dollars of annual investment (Leiner 18). There is also now talk ofInternet2. With the promise of access and transfer rates of up to 1,000 times whatis possible with the Internet today, the Internet2 (I2) project is deserving of theattention it has received. But do not expect to be cruising at lightning speedanytime soon.
Internet2 is currently confined to academia, government researchcenters, and non profit organizations (Krueger 302). It remains to be seenwhether Internet2 can accomplish its goals and then merge its findings andadvances with the commercial Internet in the time frame suggested. In the end,improved bandwidth and multimedia solutions that meet or exceed the goals ofthe Next Generation Internet, NGI, may be realized — all by the year 2002deadline. Only time will tell. If I2 flies, however, we may soon hear thebuzzword Internet3 (Krueger 306). One should not conclude that the Internet hasnow finished changing.
The Internet, although a network in name and geography,is a creature of the computer, not the traditional network of the telephone ortelevision industry. It will, indeed it must, continue to change and evolve at thespeed of the computer industry if it is to remain relevant. The most pressingquestion for the future of the Internet is not how the technology will change, buthow the process of change and evolution itself will be managed. If the Internetstumbles, it will not be because we lack for technology, vision, or motivation. Itwill be because we cannot set a direction and march collectively into the future(Leiner 18).