Follow
Subscribe

A Brief History of the Internet

Home > Special Features > Content

【Summary】There can be no doubt the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. We use it every single day. There are those who will swear on a stack of Bibles that they’d rather give up their family than forego the use of their iPhone. This notion points to a cognitive architecture that would be alien to previous generations.

Original Anthony    Oct 07, 2016 7:00 PM PT
A Brief History of the Internet
Anthony C. LoBaido

By Anthony C. LoBaido

SILICON VALLEY, California –There can be no doubt the Internet has become an integral part of our lives. We use it every single day. There are those who will swear on a stack of Bibles that they'd rather give up their family than forego the use of their iPhone. This notion points to a cognitive architecture that would be alien to previous generations. Yet here we are.

Postmodern communications as defined by satellites, fiber optic cables and the Internet have emerged since 1995 to dominate our de facto era of globalization. It's now possible to communicate instantaneously with people to the four corners of the Earth simply through the click of a button.

How did we arrive at this amazing point in human history?

There are scholars who postulate it was more likely the Industrial Revolution and the consolidation of its gains occured at the apex of the Roman Empire, rather than between (for the sake of a rough estimate) 1690 – 1890. Imagine how much further along mankind would be if the steam engine, telegraph and internal combustion engine were all invented around 300 A.D.? Imagine if the Periodic Table of Elements and the Human Genome Project were completed during the reign of Charlemagne or around the time of the First Crusade to the Holy Land?

Alternative futures and alternative histories are an interesting topic. We've arrived "in the future" our political and cultural elite told us was coming through books like "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler. Gimmicks seen in the original hit "Star Trek" series franchise – the cell phone-like "communicator," weapons that merely stun instead of kill, as well as talking computers — are items small children can identify. At the center of this new paradigm is the rise of the Internet.
Tracing the history of the Internet is a tour de force through the Cold War dynamic, at least in the very initial stages. To be frank, one needs to look to the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957.  The "beeps" emanated by Sputnik shocked America and the Western world.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the United States realized that a Soviet launch against the state of Kansas could take out the transcontinental phone switching system. So in effect, a race began to create a communications system in which each "sender" was also a "receiver."

We now know that a Soviet submarine commander basically defied an order to launch nuclear weapons (a ten kiloton nuclear torpedo targeting an American aircraft carrier) during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (In actuality, he cast a vote of"nyet!") His name is Vasili Arkhipov. The UK Guardian published his amazing story here. You and every person in the world owe their life to this brave man. The UK Daily Mail published another story about Arkhipov here.

One would be remiss not to mention a theoretical white paper produced by J.C.R. Licklider. It is entitled, "Man-Computer Symbiosis." This paper can be read and deconstructed here. A short piece on Licklider can be read here. Basically, the whole idea of a shared computer network was his premonition. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Licklider attended MIT and St. Louis' elite Washington University. The postmodern world owes this man a great debt. He in essence was the progenitor of ARPAnet —the forerunner of the Internet. "ARPA" was created by "DARPA."

Then in 1962, amid the fallout of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the prestigious Rand Corporation was tasked with finding a system in which the U.S. Air Force could retain command and control of land based ICBM's and bombers even in the wake of a nuclear first strike by a foreign power. Enter BBN (Bolt, Beranek & Newman) to help create ARPAnet. BBN and ARPAnet acted as the tip of the spear in terms of addressing the aforementioned command and control issue.

Internet histroy-2.png

The very first email (above.)  By 2014, over 183 billion emails were being sent every single day.

By 1970, there were five major players involved with the Internet — UCLA, SRI at Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and BBN. MIT and Harvard were also added to this elite grouping around 1970. (Remember that Licklider attended MIT.) 

The Internet was "born" on August 30th, 1969 when the first "Interface Message Processor" was sent from BBN to the Network Measurements Center at UCLA. Email was invented in 1971 and the "initial" email was sent out in a history-making "first." Read about it here. You can also study the image above, which is a print out of that very first email. To be more specific, the first email was a "test" that a man sent to himself. It was one small step for spam, one giant leap for mankind.

Speaking of spam — spam was invented in 1978. The first social network came along in 1979. By New Year's Day of 1984, the 1,000 hosts of the Internet converted to using TCP/IP for their messaging. The first domain name was created in 1985. The first webpage was created in 1991. This was followed in 1993 by the first browser -- created by Mosaic.

By 1995, the Internet exploded across the American landscape, ushering in a wave of prosperity not seen since the heady days of RCA radio in 1929. The soaring stock market reached its apex in 1999 with the "Pax Americana" and heady "Summer of Corporate Love." Those "feel good" times of a vibrant, fundamentally sound economy were synonymous with the rise of the Internet. Those who lived through this era will never forget the general sense of optimism abounding in the United States and around the world. Indeed, during the summer of 1999, it appeared that great things for the emerging global civilization were not only possible, but probable.


Prev                  Next
Writer's other posts
Comments:
    Related Content