History Of The Internet Essay

3313 words - 13 pages

IntroductionA commonly asked question is 'What is the Internet?' The reason sucha question gets asked so often is because there's no agreed uponanswer that neatly sums up the Internet. The Internet can be thoughtabout in relation to its common protocols, as a physical collectionof routers and circuits, as a set of shared resources, or even as anattitude about interconnecting and intercommunication. Some commondefinitions given in the past include:* a network of networks based on the TCP/IP protocols,* a community of people who use and develop those networks,* a collection of resources that can be reached from thosenetworks.Today's Internet is a global resource connecting millions of usersthat began as an experiment over 20 years ago by the U.S. Departmentof Defense. While the networks that make up the Internet are based ona standard set of protocols (a mutually agreed upon method ofcommunication between parties), the Internet also has gateways tonetworks and services that are based on other protocols.To help answer the question more completely, the rest of this papercontains an updated second chapter from 'The Whole Internet User'sGuide and Catalog' by Ed Krol (1992) that gives a more thoroughexplanation. (The excerpt is published through the graciouspermission of the publisher, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.)The Internet (excerpt from 'The Whole Internet User's Guide andCatalog')The Internet was born about 20 years ago, trying to connect togethera U.S. Defense Department network called the ARPAnet and variousother radio and satellite networks. The ARPAnet was an experimentalnetwork designed to support military research--in particular,research about how to build networks that could withstand partialoutages (like bomb attacks) and still function. (Think about thiswhen I describe how the network works; it may give you some insightinto the design of the Internet.) In the ARPAnet model, communicationalways occurs between a source and a destination computer. Thenetwork itself is assumed to be unreliable; any portion of thenetwork could disappear at any moment (pick your favoritecatastrophe--these days backhoes cutting cables are more of a threatthan bombs). It was designed to require the minimum of informationfrom the computer clients. To send a message on the network, acomputer only had to put its data in an envelope, called an InternetProtocol (IP) packet, and 'address' the packets correctly. Thecommunicating computers--not the network itself--were also given theresponsibility to ensure that the communication was accomplished. Thephilosophy was that every computer on the network could talk, as apeer, with any other computer.These decisions may sound odd, like the assumption of an 'unreliable'network, but history has proven that most of them were reasonablycorrect. Although the Organization for International Standardization(ISO) was spending years designing the ultimate standard for computernetworking, people could not wait. Internet developers in...

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