The Evolution of the Internet Essay

This essay has a total of 816 words and 4 pages.

The Evolution of the Internet

The Evolution of the Internet


So you believe Al Gore created the Internet? Well that's not possible, because I did. Yes,
it's true, a few years ago I was sitting in my basement with nothing to do and suddenly
the idea came to me: why not create an inter-connected network of networks that will allow
users to send mail instantly, download copyrighted songs, and order pizza, all from the
comfort of their own living room? OK, so maybe I didn't exactly invent the Internet, but
neither did Al Gore.

So who was the genius behind the information superhighway, you ask? Well let's take a step
back to the sixties, a decade when Cold War tension caused nationwide fear of nuclear
warfare. Early in the decade, two groups of researchers, privately owned RAND Corporation
(America's leading nuclear war think-tank) and federal agency ARPA (Advanced Research
Projects Agency), grappled with a bizarre strategic mystery: in the event of nuclear war,
how could political and military officials communicate successfully? It was obvious that a
network, linking cities and military bases, would be necessary. But the advent of the
atomic bomb made switches, wiring, and command posts for this network highly vulnerable. A
"nuclear-safe" network would need to operate with missing links and without central
authority.

In 1964, RAND Corporation's Paul Barran made public his solution to the problem.
Essentially, the concept was simple. Barran's network would be assumed to be unreliable at
all times. Information would be broken into many small pieces called "packets" and then
sent to various points, or nodes, in the network until they reached their destination.
ARPA embraced Barran's idea for three reasons. First, if nuclear bombs blew away large
components of the network, data would still reach its destination. Second, it would be
relatively secure from espionage, since spies tapping into parts of the network would be
able to intercept only portions of transmissions. Lastly, it would be much more efficient
because files and transmissions couldn't clog portions of the network.

Only five years after Barran proposed his version of a computer network, ARPANET went
online. Named after its federal sponsor, ARPANET initially linked four high-speed
supercomputers and was intended to allow scientists and researchers to share computing
facilities by long-distance. By 1971, ARPANET had grown to fifteen nodes, and by 1972,
thirty-seven. ARPA's original standard for communication was known as "Network Control
Protocol" or NCP. As time passed, however, NCP grew obsolete and was replaced by a new,
higher-level standard known as TCP-IP, which is still in use today. TCP, or "Transmission
Control Protocol," is responsible for converting messages into streams of packets at the
source of the transmission and then assembling the streams at the final destination. IP,
or "Internet Protocol" ensured that packets were routed across multiple nodes and
networks, even those using the original NCP standard.

Continues for 2 more pages >>




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