What is Internet?


February 7, 1958 was a very important moment in the internet history as it marks the day when Secretary of Defense Neil McElroy signed Department of Defense Directive. Owing to his signature, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which is now called DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, came into being. The establishment of this agency led to the creation of the internet as we know today.

During the cold war in the 1950s, USSR (Soviet Russia) launched Sputnik – a satellite. The United States was apprehensive about the USSR’s rising power in science. The Americans were concerned about being attacked by The Soviet Union that possessed the ability to damage their long-distance communication networks. In 1962, during a nuclear attack, J.C.R Licklider – a notable ARPA scientist – came forward with the genius plan to keep the communication network alive by connecting computers. This network was later named, the ARPA Network or ARPAnet. The method of packet switching enabled the transmission of data in 1965. Next year in 1969, a military company – Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BNN) created networking devices known as interface message processors (IMPs), which fundamentally transformed the procedure of data transmission.

The creation of ARPAnet gave way to the development of electronic mail. In 1971, Ray Tomlinson invented electronic mail. However, the procedure of sending one message to another network became a complex one. The creator of electronic email came up with the idea of using the”@” symbol. By 1989, hypertext – the basis of the World Wide Web – was invented. With the advancement of internet, the technology – from being a vague research idea became an integral part of everybody’s daily life.

The internet has a unique address known as an IP address which can be served as both temporary and permanent. The internet from LAN – Local Area Network may offer a permanent IP address while a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) provides a temporary IP address. Whether temporary or permanent, the IP address helps transfer all types of information from one computer to another. The message that is transmitted to another computer is transferred through the internet wire. The message is translated from a human language to a computer language and then is translated back to the alphabetic text. This is accomplished through the use of the communication protocol – protocol stacks.

The internet infrastructure is composed of a wide array of networks that interrelate with each other. The group of these networks is called – Network Service Provides or NSPs. Some of the commonly known NSPs include CerfNet, UUNet, IBM, SprintNet, and BBN Planet etc. These varying networks connect with each other to maintain and advance the traffic flow. The packet traffic is transferred from one NSP’s network to another in order to reach their final destination. The NAPs interlink with Metropolitan Area Exchanges or MAEs as well. MAEs and NSPs have a similar function only that former ones are privately owned. Both NAPs and MAEs are known as Internet Exchange Points or IXs.

Today, the internet is used for a variety of purposes including online education, engaging games, research purposes, job-hunting, online shopping, and social networking.


Amita Vadlamudi worked in the Information Technology field for over 30 years and is well-versed in technology related literature. More information about Amita Vadlamudi’s professional credentials may be found on her About.me web site.