History of the Internet

Essay by zybergod1College, UndergraduateA+, May 1993

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A commonly asked question is 'What is the Internet?' The reason such

a question gets asked so often is because there's no agreed upon

answer that neatly sums up the Internet. The Internet can be thought

about in relation to its common protocols, as a physical collection

of routers and circuits, as a set of shared resources, or even as an

attitude about interconnecting and intercommunication. Some common

definitions given in the past include:

* a network of networks based on the TCP/IP protocols,

* a community of people who use and develop those networks,

* a collection of resources that can be reached from those


Today's Internet is a global resource connecting millions of users

that began as an experiment over 20 years ago by the U.S. Department

of Defense. While the networks that make up the Internet are based on

a standard set of protocols (a mutually agreed upon method of

communication between parties), the Internet also has gateways to

networks and services that are based on other protocols.

To help answer the question more completely, the rest of this paper

contains an updated second chapter from 'The Whole Internet User's

Guide and Catalog' by Ed Krol (1992) that gives a more thorough

explanation. (The excerpt is published through the gracious

permission of the publisher, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.)

The Internet (excerpt from 'The Whole Internet User's Guide and


The Internet was born about 20 years ago, trying to connect together

a U.S. Defense Department network called the ARPAnet and various

other radio and satellite networks. The ARPAnet was an experimental

network designed to support military research--in particular,

research about how to build networks that could withstand partial

outages (like bomb attacks) and still function. (Think about this

when I describe how the network works;...