Revolution of the Internet

              By Alaa Gharbawi

                                                                                                                 perm # 6511612         





The Internet, a very complex and revolutionary invention of 1965, has changed our world. The Internet can be defined as “a global communications network consisting of thousands of networks typically interconnected by fiber optic cabling”(1). The internet is always transforming into new complex hardware and software, in addition to the services it offers. Another definition of the internet is as follows: “The Internet is at once a world-wide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location”(2). My objective for this paper is to demonstrate and explain what the Internet is, including its components and history.


The Internet can be explained as a network of networks, linking numerous government, university and private computers to one another, while providing many services such as E-mail, hypertext documents, instant messages, and data exchanges. The Internet is the largest network of networks worldwide. The Internet uses many different protocols, the most important being TCP/IP.


The computer networking revolution began in the early 1960s and has led us to today’s technology. The Internet was first invented for military purposes, and then expanded to the purpose of communication among scientists. The invention also came about in part by the increasing need for computers in the 1960s. During the Cold War, it was essential to have communications links between military and university computers that would not be disrupted by bombs or enemy spies. In order to solve the problem, in 1968 DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) made contracts with BBN (Bolt, Beranek and Newman) to create ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).


The invention of the Internet, along with the field of computer networking, was derived from the invention of the telephone network. Unlike the telephone network, the Internet uses packet switching. Packet switching was invented by three different independent research groups around the world. MIT graduate student Leonard Kleinrock, one of the first people to invent packet switching, was also the first person to publish work on packet switching. The work done at MIT, Rand and NPL helped lay the foundation of today’s Internet. Kleinrock’s colleagues J.C.R. Licklider and Lawrence Roberts of MIT went on to head the computer science program at the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Roberts published a complete plan for the ARPAnet, which is the first packet-switched computer network.   


 “Packet-switched and circuit-switched networks, two different technologies used for sending messages, each have their advantages for specific applications.”(9) The telephone network uses circuit switching, meaning that whenever a call is made, a circuit will be connected among two or more phone lines. Circuit switching networks require point to point bonding prior to transfer (there is only one path dedicated for the connection), and networks also require sending and receiving information constantly. On the other hand, the packet switching network, which has been used in the Internet, is different. Packet switching networks divide the data into small blocks; each block or packet has the possibility of taking a different path than the other to the destination; at the destination, the packets will be recompiled into the original message. (9)


In September of 1969, the first packet-switched computer network was installed in UCLA and was supervised by Kleinrock. In December of 1969, ARPA’s network expanded to include three other nodes throughout the United States: The Stanford Research Institute (SRI), The University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. Expansion became easy because of the decentralized structure of the network. The ARPA network was able to accommodate numerous kinds of machines. (4)


  Sketch of the first ARPANET node at UCLA - click for larger version  4 node sketch - click for larger version                     


The ARPA network originally used NCP (Network Control Protocol), but as time progressed, the ARPA network adapted a new protocol called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol) in the year 1983 . The TCP “converts messages into streams of packets at the source, then reassembles them back into messages at the destination” (3). The IP “handles the addressing, seeing to it that packets are routed across multiple nodes and even across multiple networks with multiple standards” (3).

The internet started to become more popular and widespread. By the year 1971, 15 nodes (23 hosts) had been established in the following locations: the University of California Los Angeles, SRI, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Utah, BBN, MIT, RAND, SDC, Harvard, Lincoln Lab, Stanford, UIU(C), CWRU, CMU, NASA/Ames. Also, in the year 1971, E-mail was invented. E-mail is a program which sends messages from host to host throughout a network. E-mail is an essential way of communication today. Furthermore, by the end of the 197Os, there were 111 hosts nationwide.(5)

                              Geographic map of ARPANET, Sept. 1971 - click for larger version(7)

Additional packet-switching networks were formed between 1970 and 1975. These networks include: ALOHAnet, Telenet, Cyclades,Tymnet, GE Information Services network and IBM’s SNA network. “In Hawaii, Norman Abramson was developing ALOHAnet, a packet-based radio network that allowed multiple remote sites on the Hawaiian Islands to communicate with each other. The ALOHA protocol …was the first multiple-access protocol, allowing geographically distributed users to share a single broadcast communication medium (a radio frequency)”(4).


In early 1980s, there were more than two hundred hosts connected to ARPAnet. The number kept increasing and reached a hundred thousand by the end of the 1980s.(5) Moreover, many computer networks were formed in the 1980s. In the year 1981 BITNET, the "Because It's Time NETwork" was established and became an e-mail provider. BITNET also became a provider of file transfers in order to link universities together in the Northeast. (4) In the same year, CSNET(Computer Science Network) was created for university scientists who did not have access to ARPAnet. CSNET also provided E-mail accounts for the university scientists.(8) In 1986, NSFNET, which serves as a backbone for support, was established with the purpose of offering access to NSF-sponsored supercomputing centers. (4) The NSFNET started with a speed of 56 kbps and by the beginning of the 1990s their speed increased to 1.5 Mbps. (4)


                                              NSFNET cloud - click for larger image(7)


The Internet quickly transformed from a nationwide infrastructure network to an international phenomenon. In the early 1980s, the French instigated the Minitel project, with the objective of bringing internet access to all French residents through more than 20,000 services. The Minitel system included a public packet-switched network, Minitel servers, and reasonably priced terminals that came with built-in low-speed modems. In 1994, the French government distributed free Minitel terminals to any French home that fancied one. The Minitel was in many French homes a decade before nearly any Americans knew about the Internet. (4)


                                      Arc Map - click for larger image(7)


In the 1990s, the whole world started to change more drastically technological wise and the Internet began to affect people. The number of end systems connected to the Internet reached one million. One of the most important events that happened in the 1990s was the invention of the World Wide Web (WWW). The first Web was started in November 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN.(8)  With the start of WWW and browsers to surf the Internet, the commercialization emerged and has change the world tremendously (especially, with the development of the GUI browsers, such as, Mosaic Communications by Marc Andreesen and Jim Clark, which were later called Netscape Communications Corporations, and their opponent Microsoft Explorer).(4) “The recent development and widespread deployment of the World Wide Web has brought with it a new community, as many of the people working on the WWW have not thought of themselves as primarily network researchers and developers.”(2) Today, people can do almost anything that they can think of over the Internet: shopping, taking University level courses and obtaining University degrees, sending Instant Messages (IM), using the phone network, listening to the Internet talk radio, banking, buying and selling stock on the stock market. Even citizens of Switzerland can vote in political elections online.

The change in the 90s was incredibly fast. In 1991, there were more than 1 trillion bytes per month and 10 billion packets per month traffics in NSFNET.(8) In the same year, NSFNET increased their connection speed to T3 (44.736 Mbps).(8) In 1994, the traffic in NSFNET was more than 10 trillion bytes per month, and the number is increasing.(8) By the end of the 1990s, almost the whole world had access to the internet.




James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross in their third edition of Computer Networking stated at the beginning of their book: “It seems that the computer networks are everywhere!”(4). Today computer networks (i.e. the Internet) literally are everywhere. In the year 2002, there were over 200 million end systems. Statistics predict that by the year 2010, about 80 percent of the world will be connected to the Internet. (5) As I have stated in the beginning of my paper: “the Internet is largest network of networks worldwide;” I think that it is important to comprehend what that really means. The Internet is our future and many of us have forgotten what it would be like if the Internet had never been invented. The Internet has brought nations and peoples closer together through the sharing of knowledge and information. Those of us whom are or have been influenced by the Internet have all become more interdependent with the rest of the world and essentially more knowledgeable than before.




            (1) Internet & Kleinschmidt,

(2) Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark,Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch,Jon Postel, Larry, G.Roberts, and Stephen Wolff,


(4) James F. Kurose and Keith W. Ross. Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach Featuring The Internet - 3rd edition. 2005.   

(5) William F. Slater. Internet History and Growth, 2002, 2002_0918_Internet_History_and_Growth.ppt

(6) History of the Internet,

(7) An Atlas of Cyberspace,

(8) Robert H'obbes' Zakon, Hobbes’ Internet Timeline v7.0,

(9) Lee Copeland, Packet-Switched vs. Circuit-Switched Networks,,10801,41904,00.html

(10) Web Topology - Google and Friends,


 By Alaa Gharbawi
Cs 176A
Perm # 6511612