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Happy Birthday internet

Submitted by on 1 November, 2009 – 4:32 pmNo Comment | 267 views

Yes the internet has reached the big four zero this week, not that you will be seeing notices on road junctions or roundabouts wishing it a very happy birthday. I wonder if the pioneers at ARPANET had any idea how big and important the internet would get?

Who Built the Internet?

In the very early days of computing, the first mainframe computers were enormous and had whole buildings or rooms dedicated to their welfare. Today, the thought of a world without desktop computers is inconceivable and what would we do without instant messaging, email and cloud computing. None of these would have existed if it was not for the Internet.

In the 1960’s, getting computers “to talk” to each other and exchange data through a “packet-switching network” was considered impossible. Today, packet switching is the way data is routinely sent back and forth over the Internet.

It works by chopping the data into packets, and these are sent through the network. When they arrive at their destination, packets are reassembled into data that is recognizable by the recipient computer. This enables many data streams to move simultaneously through the network. If we didn’t use packets, all of the data being exchanged would be scrambled in transit and no one would understand the information.

A small group of computer scientists got together to build the first packet-switching network in 1969. Their attempt involved just four computers, and after the requisite number of failures, as any IT person will tell you, they were successful. Little did they know that they had just given birth to the Internet.

In its infancy, the network was called Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). In the 1970s, when a thaw in the Cold War was about as likely as the devil learning to ice skate, the military was concerned about how to safeguard its data during a nuclear war. The generals heard about the success of the 1969 network, they decided to build on it. It then was rolled out to universities and other government institutions and so the Internet spread.

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