The internet is a disruptive technology that has affected computing and communications. The invention of the telephone, radio, the telegraph and computers formed the basic foundations for the development of the internet. The internet has evolved over time and is currently used as a means of communication and social interaction. The business community has also leveraged on the power of the internet in business strategies. For example, internet has been used as a powerful marketing tool for corporations. Many corporations have websites through which they provide information about themselves and their products.
The history of the internet can be traced to the theoretical memos that were authored by J.C.R. Licklider who was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Galactic Network was the concept within the memos that were authored between 1962 and 1963 (Campbell-Kelly and Garcia-Swartz 19). In the memos, Licklider envisioned a computer network that would allow for linking of computers with one another through terminals. Any user with access to the terminal would be able to send and receive information from other users. Licklider was part of the team that was working for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a project of the Department of Defense (Cohen-Almagor 45). While working on the ARPA project, Licklider emphasized the importance of actualizing his network design and concept to his friends and colleagues who performed further research that enabled them realize the Galactic Network that was actualized in the form of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) which preceded the internet (Shahin 682).
ARPANET was the first packet switching network was designed by the Department of Defense. The purpose was to facilitate communication between defense computers. During this time, computer technology was still at infancy stage and computers were expensive. The ARPANET idea was conceived in 1962 and implemented in 1969 when the first stable network between computers was developed. There were additional architectural models of the network that were developed independently by other researchers like Donald Davies and Paul Baran between. The motivation of these researchers was to bridge the physical distance that existed between computers. A user had to physically move from one location to another in order to access files and applications in another computer. The ARPANET was developed to link multiple computers and allow for faster transfer of data without the need of users moving from one location to another (Townes 47).
The original concept of the ARPANET led to the development of the internet. The idea behind the internet was multiple independent networks that were built on the ARPANET packet switching network theory. The internet then later on included other technologies like packet satellite networks and packet radio networks among others. The internet has an open architecture network which was first designed by Robert Kahn and demonstrated in 1972. During this time, Kahn was researching on internet architecture. The open architecture network has a core network and other subsequent networks. The individual networks may have separate designs and interfaces depending on the specific user requirements of the network. The packet radio network relied on the end-end communication protocol that was robust and allowed for effective communication between devices even in situations of interference and jamming. The protocol was also robust against blackout that was caused by geographical location, that is being in a tunnel. In his research, Kahn thought of developing a protocol for the packet radio network. This would help in addressing issues of multiple operating systems (Congressional Digest 35).
The Network Control Protocol (NCP) was the protocol of communication in ARPANET. One weakness of the NCP is that it could not effectively communicate with machines further downstream resulting in isolation of some users. There was therefore need for more change. Under NCP communication, if packets were lost, then the communication would grind to a halt meaning that NCP did not have any error control. Due to these challenges, Kahn decided to develop other protocols that would support communication in open-network architecture. This new protocol is currently the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Khan established rules for communication under TCP/IP (Keefer and Baiget 91). The first rule is that each network would be standalone and such a network would not require any changes in order to be connected to the internet. The second rule is that communication across the network would be on a best effort basis. This means that if a packet sent from a source did not make it to the intended destination, that same packet would be retransmitted from the source. The third rule is that black boxes would be needed to connect the different nodes in the network. The black boxes became the modern day routers and gateways. The gateways would be simple and there would be no packet information retained on the gateways. This rule avoided the complexity of recovering from any failure mode if such happened. The fourth rule is that the operations would not have any global control. There were other issues like error control algorithms, pipelining and queuing system, packet end-end checksums for reassembling packets from fragments and the need for global addressing within the network (Haigh, Russell and Dutton 147).
Kahn while working on the internet research wrote an article Communications Principles for Operating Systems. He discovered that he needed to learn how different operating systems implemented the protocols so that he could have a chance of embedding the protocols within the shell of the operating systems. Kahn involved one of his friends, Cerf who was part of the team that worked on the NCP protocol. Cerf was knowledgeable in interfacing and had worked with the different operating systems available at that time. While working on this protocol, Kahn and Cerf had some concerns. The first is that they wanted to ensure that communication consisted of long streams of bytes. The position of the byte in the stream would identify the byte. Secondly, they wanted flow control to be managed using sliding windows. The protocol would leave it open for the source and destination to determine the manner in which they would communicate. Kahn and Cerf did not envision development of LAN networks even though research on Ethernet was underway during this time. This research on the internet formed the IP communication protocol for the internet.
This communication protocol allowed for resource sharing between the different users. Resource sharing enabled easy access to files and applications across the networks. Further advancements to the internet have been based on the TCP/IP (Briton and Tavs 452). For example, there has been a shift from IPv4 to IPv6 in order to accommodate more devices on the internet. This is because IPv4 had limitations on the number of devices that could connect to the internet (Yannakogeorgos 108). There were other modules that were proposed during the early days of research on the internet. One of such is packet based voice communication. It took time for this to be implemented but it has finally been through internet telephony. Research also focused on worms in order to better understand viruses and other attacks on the internet and develop ways to prevent such attacks. There were other additional advancements like wireless communication, mobile internet and internet of things (IoT). These are new advances to the internet that base their existence to the ARPANET and research that was done by Kahn and others. Before this, there was development of the World Wide Web (www) and other related technologies like web 1.0 and web 2.0. Web 2.0 has allowed for better connection enabling internet users to connect and share with one another (Allen 263).
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