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Internet history

Home      English      Internet history

Internet History --

The conceptual foundation for creation of the Internet was significantly developed by three individuals and a research conference, each of which changed the way we thought about technology by accurately predicting its future:
  • Vannevar Bush wrote the first visionary description of the potential uses for information technology with his description of the "memex" automated library system.
  • Norbert Wiener invented the field of Cybernetics, inspiring future researchers to focus on the use of technology to extend human capabilities.
  • The 1956 Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence conference crystallized the concept that technology was improving at an exponential rate, and provided the first serious consideration of the consequences.
  • Marshall McLuhan made the idea of a global village interconnected by an electronic nervous system part of our popular culture.

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, triggering US President Dwight Eisenhower to create the ARPA agency to regain the technological lead in the arms race. ARPA appointed J.C.R. Licklider to head the new IPTO organization with a mandate to further the research of the SAGE program and help protect the US against a space-based nuclear attack. Licklider evangelized within the IPTO about the potential benefits of a country-wide communications network, influencing his successors to hire Lawrence Roberts to implement his vision.

Roberts led development of the network, based on the new idea of packet switching discovered by Paul Baran at RAND, and a few years later by Donald Davies at the UK National Physical Laboratory. A special computer called an Interface Message Processor was developed to realize the design, and the ARPANET went live in early October, 1969. The first communications were between Leonard Kleinrock's research center at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Douglas Engelbart's center at the Stanford Research Institute.

The first networking protocol used on the ARPANET was the Network Control Program. In 1983, it was replaced with the TCP/IP protocol developed by Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, and others, which quickly became the most widely used network protocol in the world.

In 1990, the ARPANET was retired and transferred to the NSFNET. The NSFNET was soon connected to the CSNET, which linked Universities around North America, and then to the EUnet, which connected research facilities in Europe. Thanks in part to the NSF's enlightened management, and fueled by the popularity of the web, the use of the Internet exploded after 1990, causing the US Government to transfer management to independent organizations starting in 1995.

And here we are.
NOW let us see most important steps in internet history 

Norbert Wiener Invents Cybernetics

((  Since Leibniz there has perhaps been no man who has had a full command of all the intellectual activity of his day. Since that time, science has been increasingly the task of specialists, in fields which show a tendency to grow progressively narrower. A century ago there may have been no Leibniz, but there was a Gauss, a Faraday, and a Darwin. Today there are few scholars who can call themselves mathematicians or physicists or biologists without restriction.

A man may be a topologist or an acoustician or a coleopterist. He will be filled with the jargon of his field, and will know all its literature and all its ramifications, but, more frequently than not, he will regard the next subject as something belonging to his colleague three doors down the corridor, and will consider any interest in it on his own part as an unwarrantable breach of privacy.

- Wiener, Norbert; Cybernetics; 1948. ))

Norbert Wiener developed the field of cybernetics, inspiring a generation of scientists to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities.

Norbert Wiener was born on November 26, 1894, and received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University at the age of 18 for a thesis on mathematical logic. He subsequently studied under Bertrand Russell in Cambridge, England, and David Hilbert in Göttingen, Germany. After working as a journalist, university teacher, engineer, and writer, Wiener he was hired by MIT in 1919, coincidentally the same year as Vannevar Bush. In 1933, Wiener won the Bôcher Prize for his brilliant work on Tauberian theorems and generalized harmonic analysis.

During World War II, Wiener worked on guided missile technology, and studied how sophisticated electronics used the feedback principle -- as when a missile changes its flight in response to its current position and direction. He noticed that the feedback principle is also a key feature of life forms from the simplest plants to the most complex animals, which change their actions in response to their environment. Wiener developed this concept into the field of cybernetics, concerning the combination of man and electronics, which he first published in 1948 in the book Cybernetics.

Wiener's vision of cybernetics had a powerful influence on later generations of scientists, and inspired research into the potential to extend human capabilities with interfaces to sophisticated electronics, such as the user interface studies conducted by the SAGE program. Wiener changed the way everyone thought about computer technology, influencing several later developers of the Internet, most notably J.C.R. Licklider.

In 1964, Norbert Wiener won the US National Medal of Science. In the same year, he published one of his last books called "God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion".

Resources. Some good sites related to Norbert Wiener and cybernetics are listed below.

  • The Bacterial Cybernetics Group collects evidence of cybernetic sophistication by bacteria, including advanced computation, learning, and creativity.

Lists of sites:



ARPANET -- The First Internet

I((( was in charge of the software, and we were naturally running a bit late. S(eptember 1 was Labor Day, so I knew I had a couple of extra days to debug the software. Moreover, I had heard BBN was having some timing troubles with the software, so I had some hope they'd miss the ship date. And I figured that first some Honeywell people would install the hardware -- IMPs were built out of Honeywell 516s in those days -- and then BBN people would come in a few days later to shake down the software. An easy couple of weeks of grace.

BBN fixed their timing trouble, air shipped the IMP, and it arrived on our loading dock on Saturday, August 30. They arrived with the


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