Author:Lisa Gueldenzoph, Mark Snyder

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An internet is a collection of interconnected computers that use networking hardware and software to send and receive data. The Internet is the global network of inter-connected computers and servers available to the public. The World Wide Web is the collection of graphically intensive Web pages that have enabled the Internet to become a societal phenomenon.


In the 1950s researchers and scientists across the country linked their mainframe computers via telephone connections operating at very slow speeds. This first network supported communication of basic text-based computer data. In the beginning, only federal agencies and a few research universities were linked. The system was funded by the Advanced Research Project Agency, a technology and research group in the U.S. Department of Defense. The system was referred to as ARPANET.

The first four universities connected to ARPANET were Stanford University, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. Communications research in the 1960s led to decentralized networks, queuing theory, and packet switching. These technologies allowed different types of computers to send and receive data. Computers transmitted information in a standardized protocol called packets. The addressing information in these packets told

Tim Berners-Lee (1955– ). Inventor of the World Wide Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium in Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 29, 2004. AP IMAGES

each computer in the system where the packet was supposed to go.

In 1972 the first electronic mail (e-mail) program was developed. It used file transfer protocol (FTP) to upload messages to a server that would then route the message to the intended computer terminal. This text-based communication tool greatly affected the rate at which collaborative work could be conducted between researchers at participating universities. This collaboration led to the development of the transmission control protocol (TCP), which breaks large amounts of data into packets of a fixed size, transmits the packets over the Internet using the Internet protocol (IP), and sequentially numbers them to allow reassembly at the recipient's end. The combination of TCP and IP is still the model used to move data over the Internet.

In 1984 the Pentagon, the leadership of the U.S. military, decided the growing academic and community-based Internet was far too open and lacked the security required for a military network. They transferred control of the original ARPANET to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and created a separate and secure network called MILNET. The NSF added a network backbone, renamed it NSFNet and made it available to a much larger number of colleges and universities.

With more universities connected and participating in the Internet, more programs and communication applications were created. A program called Telnet

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allowed remote users to...

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