The internet was created when a fundamental pioneer in the call for a global network, J.C.R. Licklider, articulated the ideas in his January 1960 paper, Man-Computer Symbiosis. In October 1962, Licklider was appointed head of the United States Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, now known as DARPA, within the information processing office. There he formed an informal group within DARPA to further computer research. As part of the information processing office's role, three network terminals had been installed: one for System Development Corporation in Santa Monica, one for Project Genie at the University of California, Berkeley and one for the Compatible Time-Sharing System project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Licklider's identified need for inter-networking would be made obviously evident by the problems this caused.
"For each of these three terminals, I had three different sets of user commands. So if I was talking online with someone at S.D.C. and I wanted to talk to someone I knew at Berkeley or M.I.T. about this, I had to get up from the S.D.C. terminal, go over and log into the other terminal and get in touch with them. [...] I said, it's obvious what to do (But I don't want to do it): If you have these three terminals, there ought to be one terminal that goes anywhere you want to go where you have interactive computing. That idea is the ARPAnet." -Robert W. Taylor, co-writer with Licklider of "The Computer as a Communications Device", in an interview with the New York Times
At the tip of the inter-networking problem lay the issue of connecting separate physical networks to form one logical network, with much wasted capacity inside the assorted separate networks. During the 1960s, Donald Davies (NPL), Paul Baran (RAND Corporation), and Leonard Kleinrock (MIT) developed and implemented packet switching. The notion that the Internet was developed to survive a nuclear attack has its roots in the early theories developed by RAND, but is an urban legend, not supported by any Internet Engineering Task Force or other document. Early networks used for the command and control of nuclear forces were message switched, not packet-switched, although current strategic military networks are, indeed, packet-switching and connectionless. Baran's research had approached packet switching from studies of decentralisation to avoid combat damage compromising the entire network.
Promoted to the head of the information processing office at DARPA, Robert Taylor intended to realize Licklider's ideas of an interconnected networking system. Bringing in Larry Roberts from MIT, he initiated a project to build such a network. The first ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute on 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969. By 5 December 1969, a 4-node network was connected by adding the University of Utah and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Building on ideas developed in ALOHAnet, the ARPANET grew rapidly. By 1981, the number of hosts had grown to 213, with a new host being added approximately every twenty days. ARPANET became the technical core of what would become the Internet, and a primary tool in developing the technologies used. ARPANET development was centered around the Request for Comments (RFC) process, still used today for proposing and distributing Internet Protocols and Systems. RFC 1, entitled "Host Software", was written by Steve Crocker from the University of California, Los Angeles, and published on April 7, 1969. These early years were documented in the 1972 film Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing. â€ International collaborations on ARPANET were sparse. For various political reasons, European developers were concerned with developing the X.25 networks. Notable exceptions were the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) in 1972, followed in 1973 by Sweden with satellite links to the Tanum Earth Station and University College London.
With so many different network methods, something was needed to unify them. Robert E. Kahn of DARPA and ARPANET recruited Vinton Cerf of Stanford University to work with him on the problem. By 1973, they had soon worked out a fundamental reformulation, where the differences between network protocols were hidden by using a common internetwork protocol, and instead of the network being responsible for reliability, as in the ARPANET, the hosts became responsible. Cerf credits Hubert Zimmerman, Gerard LeLann and Louis Pouzin (designer of the CYCLADES network) with important work on this design. At this time, the earliest known use of the term Internet was by Vinton Cerf, who wrote:
" Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program. "
"Request for Comments No. 675" (Network Working Group, electronic text (1974) With the role of the network reduced to the bare minimum, it became possible to join almost any networks together, no matter what their characteristics were, thereby solving Kahn's initial problem. DARPA agreed to fund development of prototype software, and after several years of work, the first somewhat crude demonstration of a gateway between the Packet Radio network in the SF Bay area and the ARPANET was conducted. On November 22, 1977 a three network demonstration was conducted including the ARPANET, the Packet Radio Network and the Atlantic Packet Satellite network-all sponsored by DARPA. Stemming from the first specifications of TCP in 1974, TCP/IP emerged in mid-late 1978 in nearly final form. By 1981, the associated standards were published as RFCs 791, 792 and 793 and adopted for use. DARPA sponsored or encouraged the development of TCP/IP implementations for many operating systems and then scheduled a migration of all hosts on all of its packet networks to TCP/IP. On 1 January 1983, TCP/IP protocols became the only approved protocol on the ARPANET, replacing the earlier NCP protocol.
I can't add to that very complete explanation, but here's my quick summary:
The concept of computer networking has been around since computers in the 1950s. Early on, the military contracted for a network called ARPANET. But the Internet as we know it today began with the introduction of the TCP/IP protocol in 1982
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