The Internet a Short History
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The Internet is often described as a "network of networks". The term is very suitable, there is no one authority that "owns" or administers the Internet and it would be impossible to draw a map of the Internet. There is no single list of the millions of users with access to the Internet. Instead, the Internet can be looked upon as a sort of confederation, a worldwide collection of national, regional, campus and corporate networks. 

Internet Origins 
The roots of the Internet lie in a collection of government computer networks that were developed in the 1970s and it has grown since as different organizations have realized the great advantages of being connected. They started with a network called Arpanet that was sponsored by the United States Department of Defense. This was intended to test methods of making computer networks survive military attack. By dispersing the network over a wide area, and using a web of connections between computers, a system could continue functioning even when portions of it were destroyed, by redirecting communications through the remaining portions of the network. 

The original Arpanet has long since been expanded and replaced and today its descendants form the global backbone of what we call the Internet. The National Science Foundation helped tremendously with the progression of the Internet when it realized that it could save money by creating several super computer centers connected to a network, so that researchers, in major universities for example, could connect to them. 

Nobody owns the Internet just as nobody owns the world's telephone network. Each component is owned by somebody, but the network as a whole is not owned by one single person. It is a system that is brought together by mutual interest. Telephone companies from all over the world get together and decide the best way the "network" should function. They decided the country codes, billing for international calls, who pays for the laying of cables and the technical details of connection from country to country. 

Growing Pains 
Over the past decade the Internet has grown tremendously with all sorts of organizations becoming involved, each connecting to its own network, with its own particular configuration of hardware and software. Therein lies a problem. It is a problem of planning resulting in the way the network grew. If cities are compared, for example, some are a mesh of intertwining roads where as others are laid out on a grid. Some cities have been planned, other cities just grew. The Internet was not really planned it just grew, and with there being no single company that decides what the network should look like it makes it difficult when you decide you would like to use the Internet. The Internet is governed by consensus, by diverse organization getting together to make it all work. When first attempting to use the Internet, it can be like attempting to navigate your way around a city without a map or guide book. It can still be interesting but you may not find what you are looking for and become lost. 

As nobody actually owns the Internet, the ISOC (the Internet Society) elect a "council of elders". This council is known as the Internet Architecture board (IAB) who agree how the network will function. They in turn are advised by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that study technical problems. 

Global Impact 
A revolution is taking place. It started quietly and has grown to involve much of the world. The Internet, a communication system is revolutionizing the way we work and play. People may feel like the Internet will not effect them, but it will or has already. In fact the Internet, if it has not already done so, will probably effect almost everyone very soon. 

The Internet currently reaches millions of people in over 61 countries. 
Nearly all colleges and universities have access to the Internet. 
The U.S. military has been using Internet technology for over a decade 
Scientists have been using the Internet since 1980. 
The government is on the Internet, along with major political parties. 
Business has begun selling goods and services over the Internet through electronic commerce enabled Web sites. 

The most common assessment of the Internet's significance measures the number of computers that connect to it. However, conventional computer connections tell only part of the story. The Internet reaches ships at sea, planes in the air and mobile vehicles on land. Private companies provide access to Internet services through the telephone system, making it possible to reach the Internet from any home or office that has a telephone. To assess the impact of the Internet, the question can be asked, "What has it affected?" The answer is, Almost everything. So the question are you ready for it?

 

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