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How the internet got started


Some thirty years ago , the Rand corporation , America's formost 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 throughly 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

missle. Thecenter 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 recieve 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,whichcame 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 eles 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 theact,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

digitl 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

doesnt 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.

Source: Essay UK -

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