The Internet a Brief History

The internet is one of humanities greatest inventions, but how did it become the internet that we know today and what can we expect in the future?

Last updated on 11/21/2021

The internet is one of humanities greatest inventions, but how did it become the internet that we know today?

1960s - The Internet is Born

Who Invented the Internet?

This is one the most often asked questions that comes up when people start to research and question the origination of the internet. Was it started by 1 person? Was it created by a company or a single government organization?

The truth is, the internet was the result of the efforts of many scientific programmers and scientists beginning in the early 1960s. MIT's J.C.R Licklider was one of the first scientists to popularize the idea of an "Intergalactic Computer Network (IGCN)" that would connect multiple computers together with the ability to exchange data.

The first usable instance of the internet was called the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and the network was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. ARPANET used something called packet switching which allowed computers on the same network to exchange electronic data in the form of packets.

The First Message sent on the Internet (ARPANET)

The first message sent on the internet was sent on October 29, 1969 from a computer at UCLA to a computer at Stanford. The message simply read "login", unfortunately the message caused the system to crash after receiving the first two letters, "lo". So in effect the first message was just "lo". The team at UCLA was lead Leonard Kleinrock, a computer science professor.

1970s - Early Enahancements

After the first message was sent across the internet in late 1969, the idea of interconnected networks and computers began to grow.

The Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)

In the 1970s two scientists by the names of Robert (Bob) Kahn and Vint Cerf created TCP/IP which together helped build the base for message transmissions between two computers and across multiple connected networks. Kahn and Cerf won the Turing Award in 2004 for their work on TCP/IP

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was originally developed by Kahn while working on the SATNET network project to replace the earlier Network Control Program (NCP) that was used on the ARPANET.

TCP allows for messages to be communicated out through a special computer called a gateway (or router) that would be transmitted to the destination computer. TCP enabled abilities that hadn't been previously used in message transmissions.

Abilities of TCP/IP

  • No single point of failure, this means that if one computer or router goes down communications would still be possible.
  • An Acknowledgement (ACK) packet was sent by the receiver to the sender when the entire message was received.
  • If information was lost in transmission, the sender would retransmit the lost portions of the message to insure the message was received successfully. The messages would be retransmitted after a timeout in which an Acknowledgment message was not received by the sender.

Together the 2 protocols form the basic messaging system of the modern internet, TCP handling the computer-to-computer communication and IP handling internetwork communications.

The 1980s

The 1990s

The 2000s

The 2010s

2020 and Beyond