The Internet as we know it originates from government-funded research into networking technologies with strategic applications. Journalist and erstwhile Internet historian David Hudson (14-16) observes that the ARPANET or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network formed the technical backbone of what would become the Internet. The ARPANET was a communications network in which each node had equal network privileges.
The rationale behind this decentralized architecture was that regardless of which node on the network would be destroyed, the network’s functionality would not be compromised. This is perhaps what distinguishes the Internet most from other communications technologies, and is possible due to the development of packet switching and TCP/IP which enabled data to be sent discontinuously to circumvent the need for a dedicated data stream.
However, it was not until the ARPANET was interlinked with the NSFNet in the mid-70s that the term “Internet” began to attain increasing currency among network professionals. Furthermore, the increasing adoption by other nations as well as universities and research institutions of TCP/IP permitted the expansion of the ARPANET’s fundamental architecture, effectively increasing the geographical coverage of the emerging network. (National Science Foundation 10-12)
What truly permitted the Internet to integrate itself into the lives of individuals beyond government and research was the rise of several applications and protocols that increased its ‘extracurricular’ potential, most notably hypertext. Hypertext within a computer networking context was developed by CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee but was made ubiquitous by Marc Andreessen’s Mosaic browser, which was the first web browser to gain mass acceptance. Since then, the Web has become the popular face of the Internet.
Hudson, David. Rewired. Indianapolis, Indiana: MacMillan Technical Publishing, 1997. Aboba, Bernard. The Online User’s Encyclopedia: Bulletin Boards and Beyond. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Professional, 1994. National Science Foundation. America’s Investment in the Future, The Internet: Changing the Way We Communicate. Retrieved October 30, 2008 from: http://www. nsf. gov/about/history/nsf0050/pdf/internet. pdf
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