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Origins Of The Internet

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Origins Of The Internet

I really like that episode of the Simpsons when they are discovering a crime from Homer’s past when he was a child. Don’t get me wrong, I like the whole series (newer episodes not so much), but I really like the ones with flashbacks. In that episode, there is one joke that I remembered the most. Young Homer is walking with his friends (young Lenny and young Carl), when at some point one of them asks others about the internet. He later explains that he is not talking about something that will change the history of civilization. He is talking about inner net in bathing shorts. It’s not a really funny joke, but at least it gave me and my friends name for that silly net. Although this episode is a flashback to eighties, if we want to talk about origins of the internet, we must go to sixties. Why sixties, you will see now.

The first thing that was written about something that can relate to today’s internet was a number of memos by MIT researcher Licklider. He was writing about something that was called “Galactic Network”, back in 1962. He believed that there was a possibility of accessing to some information by a worldwide unified set of computers. From today’s perspective, this sounds like the internet we all know. But back then this wasn’t considered as a good idea.

While still on MIT, he started DARPA. This was a research program that was based on this idea. This program was influential in creating of ARPANET, which some say that internet was based on all the factors of ARPANET. This was a baby of scientists and researchers Kleinrock and Roberts. After Licklider retired from the project called DARPA, they continued on working on ideas of computer networking.

One of the first things that was essential in this course was the usage of packets in communications. Well, at least, they were convinced of that in theory. Everyone before that used circuits. They switched to packets and they successfully conducted an experiment in 1965. In 1965 they made the first wide area computer network. Although it was a small network (between Massachusetts and California) it was a real achievement. Especially for Kleinrock, because he made a task in their researches and that task was to convince computers to speak as one.

During the sixties, team of people who worked in DARPA expanded and their goal was to upgrade the speed of ARPANET and also to create a design. All these things advanced but duration of work was long. You could compare their work to that famous sentence – Did you know that Rome wasn’t built in a day? The progress of Kleinrock’s theory of stitching to packets was crucial in the first host to host message that was created by the scientist in his office. The culmination of their early work was a connection of four host computers wired to the ARPANET. It has to be mentioned that even then their research was based on work of utilizing and underlying of network and that kind of work is practiced even today.