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The Internet is the latest and most powerful invention that has expanded the world’s communication. It has greater effects on our civilization than any other previous inventions. It has reached every corner of the globe. It has interconnected the world and created an electronic village. Unlike any previous human inventions, the Internet is a wide common resource for all people. Anyone can say whatever he/she wants to say and this can be heard by anyone else with access to the Internet. Cairncross (2001) states “never has anyone invention shot from obscurity to global flame in quite this way” (p.75). According to Cairncross, in 1990, only a few academics had heard of the Internet. In 1995, it was possible to write a book on the future of the computer and communications industries without mentioning the Internet. However, by 2000, “perhaps 385 million people around the world had acquired a new global source of information on a giant scale” (p.75). Thanks to the Internet, the 21st century people live in a world-wide community. In this community, there is no domination of one language or culture over another. Nothing can govern the type of information permissible on the Internet. The Internet has really become important for all of the people in the world. In order to understand the evolution of the Internet, a short history of the people and communities that brought the Internet may be useful as well as essential. In the following paragraphs we will provide a brief introduction about the history of the Internet; why it was started and how it came to be.
Before the Internet, personal computers did not exist. The size of the computers was very large. At that time, these giant computers “cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, filled entire rooms, and they were very complicated and very expensive to run” (Wolinsky, 1999, p.7).
In 1957, there was a great deal of tension between the former Soviet Union and the United States. Although the two countries were not involved in a real war, the US government was concerned about a possibility of a nuclear attack. This period is known as the Cold War. After the Soviet Union had launched the first space satellite, Sputnik, on October, 1957, the US government decided to catch up with the Soviet Union technology. It managed to “connect major computing centers around the United States so that they could work together and communicate” (Wolinsky, 1999, p.
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Then, the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) decided to make use of computers for national defense. After many trials, ARPA found a company, BBN Technologies, willing to work with them. The ARPANET used Network Control Protocol as its transmission protocol from 1969 to 1982, when NCP was replaced with the now-widespread TCP/IP.
The first large-scale Internet was created when a set US military computers was interconnected. For the first twenty years of its existence, the Internet was restricted to use by military and universities for the exchange of information. It was found to be an excellent method of sharing information. In 1973, the first international connection was made to the University College of London in England.
The introduction of personal computers in the late 70s brought a large new audience to the development of the Internet. The Internet was growing very rapidly and IRC (Internet Relay Chat) became available in 1988. IRC is a service that allows you to connect to your chosen channel and talk in real-time to people with the same interests as you.
The World-Wide Web
The Internet and World-Wide Web are the greatest telecommunicational breakthrough since the telephone. The huge growth that the web has enjoyed in the last decade has come very quickly. The World-Wide Web was introduced only in 1992 and there were 50 pages on the www. Researchers quickly got interested and started designing web sites and browsers. The www was quickly the most popular service on the Internet. It was around 1995 when the first large ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like AOL and CompuServe began offering Internet access to people.
The www is the reason the Internet has become as popular as it has since it is the part that the majority of users see which includes the websites and the pages that make them up. The web is the most widely used service of the Internet, accessed through a web browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.
The web is an immense collection of web pages, linked together with hypertext links. Web pages can have a mixture of text, graphics and multimedia. Nowadays, there’s information on practically anything you could be interested in available somewhere on the web. You can use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo to find what you want.
Electronic Mail works in much the same way as traditional mail does. Anyone is allowed to sign up for an e-mail address and people can send you messages. The main advantage of e-mail is the close to instantaneous delivery of messages that occurs. You can send an e-mail to any part of the world within a minute or less.
The Internet today is a large-scale network of millions of computers that allows continuous communication across the globe. Now the year 2002, the web is still growing at amazing rate. Technology has improved considerably and the web is regarded as an indispensable tool for education, business and entertainment. There are billions of pages on the web, with thousands more being added every hour. The Internet has brought us into an information age where many geographical boundaries are no longer significant barriers.
Cairncross,F. (2001). The death of distance: How the communications revolution is changing our lives. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Johnson, C. A very brief history of the Internet (Online). Available from: http://www.weav.bc.ca ( Accessed 14 October, 2002).
Shannon, R. (2002). The history of the Net (Online). Available from: http://www.yourhtmlsource.com ( Accessed 14 October, 2002).
Wolinsky, A. (1999). The history of the Internet and the world wide web. NJ: Enslow Publishers.