How The Internet Got Started

Some thirty years ago , the Rand corporation , America\'s formost cold
war think tank, faced a strange straegic problem. How could the US authrieties
succesfully communicate after a nuclear war?

Postnuclear America would need a comand-and-control network, linked from
city to city , state to state, base to base . But no matter how throughly that
network was armored or protected , its switches and wiring would always be
vulnerable to the impact of atomic bombs. A nuclear attack would reduce any
conceivable network to tatters. And how would the network itself be commanded
and controlled ? Any central authority, any network central citadel, would be
an obvious and immediate target for man enemy missle. The center of the network
would be the very first place to go.

RAND mulled over this grim puzzle in deep military secrecy, and arrived
at a daring solution made in 1964.The principles were simple . The network
itself would be assumed to be unreliable at all times . It would be designed
from the get-go to tyranscend its all times . It would be designed from the
get-go to transcend its own unrreliability. All the nodes from computers in
the network would be equal in status to all other nodes , each node with its
own authority to originate , pass , and recieve messages. The messages would be
divided into packets, each packet seperatly addressed. Each packet would begin
at some specified source node , and end at some other specified destination node
. Each packet would wind its way through the network on an individual
basis.In fall 1969, the first such node was insalled in UCLA. By December 1969,
there were 4 nodes on the infant network, which was named arpanet, after its
Pentagon sponsor.

The four computers could even be programed remotely from the other nodes.
thanks to ARPANET scientists and researchers could share one another\'s computer
facilities by long -distance . This was a very handy service , for computer-
time was precious in the early ‘70s. In 1971 ther were fifteen nodes in
Arpanet; by 1972, thirty-seven nodes. And it was good.

As early as 1977, TCP/IP was being used by other networks to link to
ARPANET. ARPANET itself remained fairly tightly controlled,at least until
1983,when its military segment broke off and became MILNET. TCP/IP became more
common,entire other networks fell into the digital embrace of the Internet,and
messily adhered. Since the software called TCP/IP was public domain and he
basic technology was decentralized and rather anarchic by its very nature,it as
difficult to stop people from barging in linking up somewhere or other. Nobody
wanted to stop them from joining this branching complex of networks, which came
tobe known as the "INTERNET".

Connecting to the Internet cost the taxpayer little or nothing, since
each node was independent, and had to handle its own financing and its own
technical requirements. The more, the merrier. Like the phone network, the
computer network became steadily more valuable as it embraced larger and larger
territories of people and resources. A fax machine is only valuable if
everybody eles a fax machine. Until they do, a fax is just a curiosity.
ARPANET, too was a curiosity for a while. Then computer networking became an
utter necessity.

In 1984 the National Science Foundation got into the act,through its office
of Advanced Scientific Computing. The new NSFNET set a blisteing pace for
technical advancement linking newer, faster, shinier supercomputers, through
thicker, faster links,upgraded and expanded,again and again,in
l986,l988,l990.And other government agencies leapt in: NASA, National
Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, each of them maintaining a digital
satrapy in the INTERNET confederation.

The nodes in this growing network-of-networks were divided up into basic
varieties. Foreighn computers,and a few American ones chose to be denoted by
their geographical locations. The others were grouped by the six basic Internet
domains --gov, government} mil military}edueducation} these were of course,
the pioneers Just think, in l997 the standards for computer networking is now
global. In 1971, there were only four nodes in the ARPANET network. Today there
are tens of thousands of nodes in the Internet,scattered over forty two
countries and more coming on line every single day. In estimate, as of
December,l996 over 50 million people use this network. Probably, the most
important scientific instrument of the late twentieth century is the INTERNET.
It is spreading faster than celluar phones,faster than fax machines. The
INTERNET offers simple freedom. There are no censors,no bosses,etc. There are
only technical rules, not social, political,it is a bargain you can talk to
anyone anywhere,and it doesnt charge for long distance service. It belongs