American government researchers wanted to find a way to faster access and share necessary data.
October is the month of cybersecurity awareness. 10 years ago, the European union started the annual campaign to promote cybersecurity among citizens and organizations by providing accurate online security information and activities raising understanding and awareness in the constantly evolving cyber landscape. This month we focus our attention on significant happenings that created the digital world as we know it today. This blogpost we dedicate to the creation of the Internet, and we focus on the first significant steps that made it all happen.
The history of how the Internet was created started back in the 1960’s. At this time computers were expensive, large, immobile, and only owned by universities, large companies, and governments, according to The Internet Society. To make use of information, it was necessary to travel to the place of the computer or have magnetic computer tapes on which data could be encoded sent by post, according to The Science Museum.
American government researchers were frustrated with the situation and wanted to facilitate daily work tasks by being able to faster access and share necessary data. They started to look for a new tool that could share information more effectively.
During the 1960’s, also the Cold War (1947-1989) contributed to the creation of the Internet. When the Soviet Union launched their Sputnik satellite, American scientists and military experts got concerned about what would happen in the event of an attack on the nation’s telephone system. They were afraid of a possible destruction of their whole network which made efficient long-distance communication possible. The U.S. Defense Department started to consider how to continue spreading information even after a possible nuclear attack. Paul Baran, a researcher at the American RAND Corporation think tank, came up with an idea for a computer communications network that would survive nuclear attacks and continue functioning –packet switching was invented, reporting Britannica.
Packet switching is a method of splitting and sending data. A computer file is broken up into thousands of small segments named packets and distributed across a network, and then reordered back into a single file at their destination, according to The National Science and Media Museum in the UK.
Birth of ARPANET
Paul Baran’s idea of packet-switched communication enabled efficient and reliable transmission of data. It became the fundamental concept that created ARPANET, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, aiming to enable access to remote computers. ARPANET that later developed into what we today call the Internet, reporting The Internet Society.
In the beginning, ARPANET was only used by a limited number of organizations, governments, and universities. The technology started to expand in the 70’s when scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, a communication model that sets standards for how data is transmitted between multiple networks.
On January 1,1983, ARPANET adopted TCP/IP, and it became possible for all networks to be connected by one common universal language. The birth of the internet was now a fact and from this day on, researchers started to constantly develop it further, according to The Guardian.
Global information sharing
In 1989, the next breakthrough came when Tim Berners-Lee, a British employee at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, invented the World Wide Web (WWW), an Internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing.
The basic idea of the WWW was to combine the evolving technologies of computers, hypertext, and data networks into a powerful and user-friendly global information system. Berners-Lee managed to marry hypertext to the Internet, and by this create structured documents and immediate access to new information by connecting different weblinks to each other, reporting CERN.
On April 30, 1993, he released the source code for the world’s first web browser and editor, the WorldWideWeb browser. It allowed everyone with an Internet connection to access a wide range of information, communicate freely with others on the other side of the world and if they wanted, set up their own website or business, according to The Guardian.