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The Evolution of the Internet, From Decentralized to Centralized

The Internet is now provided from data centers run by Internet Service Providers.
This was the sketch of the original Internet, developed by the DoD ARPA (Advanced Research Project Agency). The computer nodes connected the Stanford Research Institute, UCLA, UCSB and the University of Utah. (Source: Computer History Museum)
  1. TCP/IP — Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol are the standard set of data communications protocols used on the Internet. It was developed under the DARPA (DoD Advanced Research Projects Agency) by Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf. It is now a de facto standard for the Internet and is maintained by the IETF. These protocols are what gave the Internet e-mail, file transfer, newsgroups, web pages, instant messaging, voice over IP just to name some. This is like a common language that computers use to communicate with one another on the network.
  2. World Wide Web and HTML — This is credited to Tim Berners-Lee who developed a system that would allow documents to be linked to other nodes. This was the beginning of hypertext, which are links to information stored on other computers in the network. Users would no longer need to know the actual location or computer name to access resources through the use of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) hyperlinks. Thus a resource called a website can be accessed that provides these links which can be clicked with the mouse. This whole linked system became called the World Wide Web and to access resources on it one must type “www” followed by the domain name “servername.com”.
  3. Browser — The World Wide Web would be useless if not for a software program called a browser. Early development of the web browser started with Mosaic in 1993. Prior to browsers, there was a software called Gopher that provided access to websites, but it was tedious and not user friendly. Eventually more robust features evolved with a new generation of browsers like Mozilla and then Netscape. It was actually Microsoft’s introduction of Internet Explorer (IE) in 1995 that led to wider adoption of the World Wide Web and use of the Internet.
  4. Search Engines — In order to get information and content from the Internet, a search engine software was needed. The early days of searching began with Gopher. It became less popular when browser based search engines emerged. Other web based systems evolved like Lycos, Yahoo and Webcrawler. Then Google appeared toward the late 1990’s and became the most popular search engine. It was simple and fast, offering the best way for users to get information on the Internet. The term “google” now became synonymous with searching on the Internet and is also the most well known search engine.
  5. Internet Service Providers — The early days of the Internet required a dial-up modem connected to a telephone line with data speeds of 14.4–28.8 kbps. That was sufficient to meet the data demands during the late 80’s and early 90’s since most Internet was text based. As the Internet grew more popular and businesses began to adopt it, more content required faster data speeds. This led to Internet Service Providers (ISP) beginning with the likes of AOL bundling service by mailing free CD software to encourage users to sign up. The catch was getting an e-mail address and free hour of Internet use. ISP’s continued to improve service by offering faster DSL and ADSL service as alternatives to dial-up. DSL service bumped speeds up to 128 kbps. Cable companies then provided even faster Internet speed using cable modems that became known as broadband service. The infrastructure was built by telecommunications companies and cable TV giants to offer even faster speeds that would allow users to stream video, chat, browse active content on the web, video conference and faster data downloads. Cable modem speeds, based on DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) offer speeds between 20 to 100 Mbps and even greater (depends on how many users are connected on the subscriber circuit).
The dial-up modem was the original device used to connect to the Internet. (Photo Source: Wikipedia)
Tim Berners Lee, the father of the World Wide Web. (Photo Source: New York Post)
The Internet today is available from broadband Internet service using WiFi at blazing speeds now > 10 Mbps for many homes. There is still a disparity in speed among countries, depending on the infrastructure and service providers.



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Vincent Tabora

Editor HD-PRO, DevOps Trusterras (Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Software Development, Engineering, Photography, Technology)