The Internet The Internet is the name for a group of worldwide information resources. These resources are so vast as to be well beyond the comprehension of a single human being. Not only is there no one who understands all of the Internet, there is no one who even understands most of the Internet (Harley 2). The Internet is often thought of as a computer network, or sometimes a group of computer networks connected to one another. The computer networks are simply the medium that carries the information.
The beauty and utility of the Internet lie in the information itself that is being transmitted. The Internet has undergone a remarkable transformation since its early days. The original Internet was a low-speed, text-based network used to connect a few government sites to the research and defense contracting community. The Department of Defense began a project known as ARPAnet (Advanced Research Project Agency Network) back in the late 1960’s, starting the first internet. It was designed by the network architects to interconnect government computers with defense contractors (Banta 2). The design of the network was such that no one computer system was dependent upon the functioning of any of the other computer systems. If any one computer network node was destroyed, such as in a nuclear attack, the rest of the network would continue to operate (Banta 2).
In the 1970s, the Internet began to be interconnected with large universities and research organizations (Banta 2). The type of information going across the Internet began to change from that of being primarily government oriented to that of research oriented. During the 1980s, more universities and government contractors began using the internet contributing to its growth. As the amount of network traffic increased, the speed of the Internet began to slow down. In the mid – 1980s, the U.S.
Department of Defense split the network into the ARPAnet and the MilNet. The MilNet consists of only traffic to and from military sites and other government locations vital for national defense. The National Science Foundation (NSF) took over ARPAnet and merged it into a high-speed network called NSFnet (Benta 2). The NSFnet was the prototype for the national Internet backbones that we have today. It provided high-speed links among scientists and supercomputing facilities and served as the main Internet traffic arteries for the United States. People at universities and elsewhere immediately began using the increased speed for everything other than supercomputing, and this led to the birth of the national Internet infrastructure. In 1995, the NSF handed over control of the Internet backbone to commercial carriers (Glen 3).
In the last couple of years Internet usage has shifted from the university environment to that of becoming more commercial. The primary thing that has led to this shift was the development of the World Wide Web (the Web) by CERN (the high-energy physics research institute in Geneva, Switzerland). Coupled with this came the development of the first practical web browser, Mosaic, from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) (Glen 3). Today, the Internet is being used by all sorts People – educators, librarians, hobbyists, and business people – for a variety of purposes, from communicating with each other, to accessing valuable information and resources. To appreciate what the. Internet has to offer, imagine discovering a whole system of highways and high-speed connectors that cut hours off your commuting time.
Or a library you could use any time of the day or night, with acres of books and resources and unlimited browsing. That’s the Internet. Web browsers allowed people to explore the resources of the Internet in a way that was far easier than the original text-based applications like FTP (file transfer protocol, Gopher (a search engine), Telnet (remotely accessing a computer), etc. As more people become interested in the Internet, the more web browsers were developed and came into use. The main web browsers in use today are Netscape and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
Web browsers were developed that were more graphically (picture) oriented and easier to use than the old text based applications. This led to an increase in the number of people that began connecting themselves to the Internet and this led to a slow down in the traffic of the Internet. Graphic files are very large and the amount of bandwidth (amount of information that can be transmitted in a line in a given period of time (Pfaffenberger 53))required to send them across the Internet is also large, thereby causing a natural slowdown in the system when many people are on it. As more people began using the Internet, businesses also became interested in it for its huge market potential. Businesses began building web sites to attract customers that were very complex and rich in graphics (photographs, movies, sound clips, and animations). This further led to a slowdown in the current Internet bandwidth.
The bigger the file, the longer it takes to send it to your computer and the longer that you must be connected on-line. The more people on-line, the greater the demand on the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to increase their bandwidth to the Internet backbone. The more demand on the backbone, the greater the pressure to upgrade it to an ever increasing capacity. Every- six months surveys are taken as to the number of people using the Internet. Below, is a chart showing the number of users in the United States, and their projected growth by the year 2000. As can be seen by the graph, the amount of growth from people using the Internet is tremendous and is almost geometrical in nature (Kantor 1-4). With more and more people connecting through American On-line, CompuSereve, Prodigy, and local ISPs, growth is expected to continue to increase at an outstanding rate.
It has caused change and adaptation in almost all walks of life, from grade school students to corporate chairpersons. And its size and impact on the world will only become larger. Technology.