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Originally a technology developed by the United States Government to rival the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic's Sputnik technology, the Internet has grown into a widely accepted virtual gateway for information. The networking of radar systems for use by the US military to their advantage as a unified armed force through communication systems paved the way for the birth of the Internet system.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency was created mainly to maintain the United States Military ahead of the technology game, and prevent technological "surprises" such as that of Sputnik that caught the US Government unaware back in 1957. The Sputnik project had proved that the USSR had already established the capacity to exploit technology to take on a military role, and rapidly develop it to their military's advantage. One technological breakthroughs of ARPA that led to the Internet's existence today, as the technology of radar communications was achieved by networking computers between the main government defense offices linking up the SAC Headquarters, the Pentagon, and Cheyenne Mountain. This was then known as the SAGE program.
What is the Internet basically? The Internet is widely used and is a global networking system that interconnects many computer networks using Transmission Control Protocol combined with Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to link all systems. Technically, no one person really invented the Internet, but it really is a result of major breakthroughs achieved by several individuals in the field of technological advancement. If one takes the Internet system as a whole, and breaks it into its most basic concepts, then these important individual people who contributed to its existence can be identified.
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Concept 1: Packet-Switching
In 1961, Leonard Kleinrock published a paper on the concept of packet-switching. This concept is what opened up the idea of information being routed from one computer to another in "packets" using data signature defining the receiver computer, and this data is included in this packet so it will reach its destination. This was derived from the original concept of circuit-switching which is used on telephone switchboards where one switchboard can handle several phone lines and connect them all together from one source.
Concept 2: Galactic Network
The first description of a worldwide network of computers communicating with other computers was provided by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (J.C.R. Licklider) in 1962. He was the first to describe futuristic concepts of graphics, point-and-click interface on screen, e-commerce, online banking, and software that could be shared on a network. He was the head of the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) that was an office created by ARPA to further research into the SAGE program.
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Concept 3: ARPANet
In 1965, Larry G. Roberts took this concept of networking and further developed the Internet into what it is today. The first actual, functioning long-distance computer network was established. He was then the chief scientist of ARPA (Now known as DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and his team led to the breakthrough of ARPANet which was the first packet-switching network that connected four IMPs or Interface Message Processors that were originally located in the University of California (UCLA), University of Utah, Stanford Research Institute Augmentation Research Center, and University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Concept 4: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
The Transmission Control Protocol or TCP was invented by Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf between 1972 and 1973. This breakthrough of transmission that moves data around all the computer networks today is the actual genius that is the foundation of the modern Internet system. It has been said that these two people are the actual inventors of the Internet, but this has been disclaimed by them as they publicly stated that the Internet cannot be attributed to one person or one group of people around. In a way, they are correct as the Internet itself still remains a dynamic and ever-changing system over the generations.
Concept 5: Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)
Radia Perlman was responsible for the concept of an algorithm in 1980 which led to the link layers in network protocol that is widely used in bridging local area networks. This is what ensures seamless networking between computer systems today, and is the basis of modern networking concepts that are still being consistently redeveloped and advanced by many networking establishments in the present time.
What is the Internet as a whole unit? A consistent, universally global mass of computer networks that communicate with one another on a common gateway that makes the world seem a lot smaller than it used to be.