The History of the Internet

In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the first artificial earth satellite. Although all it managed to do was beep, it accomplished much more. By 1958 the US formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which was attached to the US military,  to counter any USSR technology lead. ARPA originated the backbone of the modern day internet, proposing packet switching and network timesharing computers.

The Internet was designed in part to provide a communications network between government and research facilities that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. If the most direct route was not available, routers would direct traffic around the network via alternate routes.

The concept of a home-based global information system goes back at least as far as Isaac Asimov's short story "Anniversary" (Amazing Stories, March 1959), in which the characters look up information on a home computer called a "Multivac outlet" -- which was connected by a "planet-wide network of circuits" to a mile-long "super-computer" somewhere in the bowels of the Earth. One character is thinking of installing a Mulitvac, Jr. model for his kids.

Interestingly, the story was set in the far distant future when commercial space travel was commonplace, and yet the machine "prints the answer on a slip of tape" that comes out a slot -- there is no video display -- and the owner of the home computer says that he won't spend the kind of money it takes to get a Multivac outlet that talks.

The early Internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians. There was nothing friendly about it. There were no home or office personal computers in those days, and anyone who used it, whether a computer professional or an engineer or scientist or librarian, had to learn to use a very complex system.

By 1965 MIT and System Development Corp establish a direct computer link via  a 1.2kbs telephone line. Digital Equipment Corp is soon added to the group. Note the speed. Today's dialup is 54kbs, and high speed internet connections for home or office often top 10meg (10,000kbs).

During the middle and late '60s numerous universities are added to the network, allowing government and military research to be shared between locations easily.

In 1970 the University of Hawaii develops the ALOHAnet which is later connected to ARPAnet via radio transmissions in 1972. Also in 1971-1972 more nodes are added, including UCLA, Harvard and NASA.  1971 boasts the first email exchange and in 1972 the @ sign was chosen from the punctuation keys for the AT feature.

International connections begin in 1973 with the addition of the University College of London. In 1980 ARPAnet crashes, due to a computer virus. 1984 boasts 1,000 internet hosts, 1987 boasts 10,000 hosts and by 1989 there are 100,000 hosts connected. 1992 is just around the corner with over a million hosts. Today it is estimated there are approx 750 million host connections.

1978 is also the year that brought the first unsolicited commercial email message (later known as spam), sent out to 600 California Arpanet users by Gary Thuerk. Curse him!

The first effort to index the Internet was created in 1989, as Peter Deutsch and his crew at McGill University in Montreal, created an archiver for ftp sites, which they named Archie. This software would periodically reach out to all known openly available ftp sites, list their files, and build a searchable index of the software. The commands to search Archie were unix commands, and it took some knowledge of unix to use it to its full capability.

In 1989 another significant event took place in making the nets easier to use. Tim Berners-Lee and others at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, more popularly known as CERN, proposed a new protocol for information distribution. This protocol, which became the World Wide Web in 1991, was based on hypertext--a system of embedding links in text to link to other text, which you have been using every time you selected a text link while reading these pages. Although started before gopher, it was slower to develop.

e-Scholars generally agree that the turning point for the World Wide Web began with the introduction of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (NCSA-UIUC), led by Marc Andreessen. Funding for Mosaic came from the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a funding program initiated by then-Senator Al Gore's High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, also known as the Gore Bill. Prior to the release of Mosaic, graphics were not commonly mixed with text in web pages, and its popularity was less than older protocols in use over the Internet, such as Gopher and Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS). Mosaic's graphical user interface allowed the Web to become, by far, the most popular Internet protocol. Current  versions of FireFox, Internet Explorer and Opera all share common Mosaic roots. In a way, I guess Al Gore really DID invent the internet!

Delphi was the first national commercial online service to offer Internet access to its subscribers. It opened up an email connection in July 1992 and full Internet service in November 1992. All pretenses of limitations on commercial use disappeared in May 1995 when the National Science Foundation ended its sponsorship of the Internet backbone, and all traffic relied on commercial networks. AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe came online. I remember spending hours on CompuServe with my 4kbs connection and thought it was absolutely the best thing I had ever seen!

In 1996, HoTMaiL (the capitalized letters are an homage to HTML), the first webmail service, was launched and Google followed in 1998, revolutionizing the way in which people find information online.

Which brings us to you. Your site on one of the AmeriWeb Hosting servers joins your business with millions of others, forming the modern World Wide Web. We constantly strive to keep our servers updated and running smoothly. We are currently running 4 servers. The newest server is a screamer, with 14 Intel(R) processors running together to serve up hundreds of web sites simultaneously. Contrast that with most home computers that usually run a single processor. We chose Linux as our operating system over Windows.

While out servers only THINK they are "super computers" (shhh, don't tell them otherwise as it may hurt their digital feelings), they do their job quite well in serving web pages to your visitors. Contact us with any WWW questions or needs.
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