Internet history: How a little U.S. network became a global computing universe
Long before Google, Bing, and Facebook and other multi-billion dollar entities past and present battled it out for the supremacy of what we have come to know as the lucrative Internet pie, the Internet had its humble beginnings in 1958 as a little network called ARPAnet, or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.
ARPAnet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense to serve as a nationwide computer network. ARPAnet linked East Coast to the West coast and was designed to operate as a distinct communication channel immune from nuclear wars or natural disasters.
Packet-switching network formed the basis for the ARPAnet. Data was divided into packets that could be sent from computer to computer and rearranged by the receiver. These packets passed through various computers along the network, with each computer in the network able to communicate with all the others.
By the early 1970s, the ARPAnet network was already being used for purposes outside the domain of the ARPAnet. E-mail and electronic news were born. Early prototypes of harmless hackers also surfaced, though their work was mainly based on practically jokes which they liked to send to people they knew.
Within the next two decades after the ARPAnet was established, the network was already being tapped for use for research and communication by scientists, academic institutions and the government. Back then, the Internet already had immense appeal as a channel through which data could be shared to other individuals and groups. The ARPAnet created a set of rules called Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to govern the handling of data received over a network.
Then in 1992, the U.S. government started pulling out of managing the network and it was then that Internet access was offered by commercial firms to the general public. The move paved the way for the rapid expansion of the Internet. In 1996, market research firm IntelliQuest estimated that Internet users numbered 47 million, and by 1997, CNN reported that one out of four Americans over 16 years old was a web user.
With the advent of powerful personal computers, the expansion of the Internet become unstoppable and the number of users steadily increased. What used to be a little network concentrated mostly within the U.S. grew into a huge international network with multimedia capabilities.
The year 1994 saw the creation of the first e-commerce website through which payments could be made — the Pizza Hut website. Amazon was also created in 1994, becoming the first ever website to sell a product on the web. By 1995, eBay was already operating as an auction website through which users sold items they no longer needed.
The search giant Google was founded in 1996, while the first social networking site, SixDegrees.com, appeared in 1997. Over the next few years, many others social networking sites followed, including Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, and the biggest and most successful of them, Facebook, launched in 2004.
The Internet continues to evolve, enabling people across the globe to communicate and send huge files in real time. The lack of a central authority controlling it helps the Internet to flourish rapidly, aided in great part by technological advancements. Today, with wireless Internet, even handheld personal computers and cell phones can be hooked up to the web.
About the author: Matt Fuller is a contributing author on various subjects including free dating websites, social networking,Internet dating sites, online dating reviews, dating sites in Australia and relationships advice.