The history of the Internet has its origin in information theory and the efforts of scientists and engineers to build and interconnect computer networks. The Internet Protocol Suite, the set of rules used to communicate between networks and devices on the Internet, arose from research and development in the United States and involved international collaboration, particularly with researchers in the United Kingdom and France.
|History of computing|
|Timeline of computing|
|Glossary of computer science|
Computer science was an emerging discipline in the late 1950s that began to consider time-sharing between computer users, and later, the possibility of achieving this over wide area networks. J. C. R. Licklider developed the idea of a universal network at the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Independently, Paul Baran at the RAND Corporation proposed a distributed network based on data in message blocks in the early 1960s, and Donald Davies conceived of packet switching in 1965 at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), proposing a national commercial data network in the United Kingdom.
ARPA awarded contracts in 1969 for the development of the ARPANET project, directed by Robert Taylor and managed by Lawrence Roberts. ARPANET adopted the packet switching technology proposed by Davies and Baran, underpinned by mathematical work in the early 1970s by Leonard Kleinrock at UCLA. The network was built by a team at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman, which included Bob Kahn.
Several early packet-switched networks emerged in the 1970s which researched and provided data networking. ARPA projects, international working groups and commercial initiatives led to the development of various standards and protocols for internetworking, in which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks. Louis Pouzin at the IRIA and, separately, Peter Kirstein at University College London put internetworking into practice in 1973. Vint Cerf, at Stanford University, and Bob Kahn, now at DARPA, published research in 1974 that evolved into the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), two protocols of the Internet protocol suite. The design included concepts from the French CYCLADES project directed by Louis Pouzin.
In the late 1970s, national and international public data networks emerged based on the X.25 protocol, the design of which included the work of Rémi Després. In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded national supercomputing centers at several universities in the United States, and provided interconnectivity in 1986 with the NSFNET project, thus creating network access to these supercomputer sites for research and academic organizations in the United States. International connections to NSFNET, the emergence of architecture such as the Domain Name System, and the adoption of TCP/IP on existing networks in the United States and around the world marked the beginnings of the Internet. Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) emerged in 1989 in the United States and Australia. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. Limited private connections to parts of the Internet by officially commercial entities emerged in several American cities by late 1989 and 1990. The optical backbone of the NSFNET was decommissioned in 1995, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic, as traffic transitioned to optical networks managed by Sprint, MCI and AT&T in the United States.
Research at CERN in Switzerland by the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989–90 resulted in the World Wide Web, linking hypertext documents into an information system, accessible from any node on the network. The dramatic expansion of the capacity of the Internet, enabled by the advent of wave division multiplexing (WDM) and the rollout of fiber optic cables in the mid-1990s, had a revolutionary impact on culture, commerce, and technology. This made possible the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls, video chat, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking services, and online shopping sites. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber-optic networks operating at 1 Gbit/s, 10 Gbit/s, and 800 Gbit/s by 2019. The Internet's takeover of the global communication landscape was rapid in historical terms: it only communicated 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunications networks in the year 1993, 51% by 2000, and more than 97% of the telecommunicated information by 2007. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information, commerce, entertainment, and social networking services. However, the future of the global network may be shaped by regional differences.