Internet History Essay, Research Paper
Starting out as a small military experiment some 35 years ago, the Internet is quickly
becoming one of the most popular forms of communication. With a present population of about
40 million users world wide, it seems to have a very promising future. Uncensored and almost
impossible to monitor, it’s a breeding ground for all sorts of offensive and derogatory information.
On the other hand, it is probably the biggest single source of data in the world brought home into
your personal computer. Will this form of communication survive in the future, or will it simply
die out like many others have in the past?
The first nodes of the Internet were built 36 years ago by the RAND corporation. They
faced the problem of keeping communication between U.S. authorities active in the aftermath of a
nuclear war. The country needed a command-and-control network. The biggest problem was
protecting the main server, which could be knocked out by a single atomic warhead. RAND came
up with the solution in 1964. The new network would have no central authority, and secondly, it
would be designed to operate in shambles.
” During the 60s, this intriguing concept of a decentralized, blastproof, packet-switching network was
kicked around by RAND, MIT and UCLA. The National Physical Laboratory in Great Britain set up the
first test network on these principles in 1968. Shortly afterward, the Pentagon’s Advanced Research
Projects Agency decided to fund a larger, more ambitious project in the USA. The nodes of the network
were to be high-speed supercomputers (or what passed for supercomputers at the time). These were rare
and valuable machines which were in real need of good solid networking, for the sake of national research-
and-development projects.” (Sterling 1-2)
The first was put in place during the fall of 1969. By December of the same year four nodes were
installed. They were connected by dedicated high-speed transmission lines. This allowed the
computers to communicate and be programmed from one of the other computers. In the year of
1971 there were 15 nodes, and by 72 there were 37. This number kept increasing rapidly as the
years passed. The network was also becoming more of a person to person way of communicating.
Many military personnel began using it as a way to gossip with friends instead of a way to
transmit documents and projects. This became even more evident in the following years.
How it works
The Internet may seem a very complex form of communication but that is not really the
case. First, you must have a reasonably fast computer (80386 or higher) with a modem and a
phone line. The next step is to contact your local Internet provider and get him to give you a
password and an SLIP address. At this time you will also be given the software to get you started.
All of this costs about 140 dollars, depending on how many hours you wish to purchase. “We
charge using an hourly rate because it gives our users more flexibility with their time. When run
on a monthly payment, you are limited to an hour a day, whereas with our system you can use any
amount of time whenever you want” (Schulmeister).
The costs are as follows:
Once you have your software installed and want to start “surfing the net,” you must first login to the
server (located at the Northwest Community College) by dialling in its phone number using a
specific program. The two local numbers are 638-1543 and 638-1593. Even with the two
numbers, the server is often busy because of the constantly increasing number of users in our area.
These numbers can be used by a number of people at a time, not just two. Once connected to the
college server, you travel down to a larger server in Vancouver, and from there you can access
any other computer connected as long as your server has permission to do so.
Diagram: How the Internet works
Impact on Society
The Internet is just starting to have a large impact on society. It seemed to come out of
nowhere, popping up in magazines and on the news. The Internet is now becoming an influential
communications medium to over 40 million people worldwide. Many of these people are
becoming aware of the Internet’s commercial capabilities and they are taking advantage of them.
” According to some recent estimates, the amount of traffic on the Internet has been increasing
10 percent per moth, and the number of new applications and services has been increasing almost
as quickly.” (LaQuey 6) There are tens of thousands of sites scattered throughout the world wide
web where items ranging from games to sex toys can be ordered through a First Virtual Internet
Account, or just by providing your e-mail address (not a very good idea if you want to keep your
privacy). Business is another thing the internet can be used for. You could read documents and
obtain projects and reports from anywhere in the world through your computer. The downside to
conducting business over the net is the possibility of a hacker infiltrating private documents and
using them for whatever he/she pleases. The internet can have a good influence on society as well
as a bad one. On the good side, the internet teaches us how to us a computer for communication
purposes and it provides us with bundles of information. It can help you get your business going
and is great for advertising products no matter what they are. These are all the good things that
the Internet can be used for. Unfortunatly it contains a lot of bad stuff too, the stuff you hear
about most often on the news or in magazines. The internet is one of the few uncensored forms of
mass communication. The net is loaded with pornographic images and movies as well as dirty chat
lines and sex shops. Many of the images you find contain child pornography as well as bestiality,
all of which can be downloaded onto your computer and viewed. The information superhighway
is such a huge mass of links it is almost impossible to monitor, and the people putting these
pictures on the net can stay annonymous making them very hard to locate. “An analysis of
searches by Internet users found that 47 per cent were for pornographic material” (The Weekly
Telegraph 21). This is why parents should monitor their childern carefully while they are “surfing
The internet is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of communication. It has
become a commercial center out of what began as an experimental military project. Computers,
modems, servers, and telephone wires are becoming faster and more efficient. Computers have
gone from 8086’s to 80486’s and pentiums. Modems started at about 1200 bps and they are now
up around 28,800 bps, and fibre optics are replacing regular wires. All of these factors are
changing the internet into a powerful new system that almost anyone can use with ease. The
present day estimate of the number of internet users worldwide is somewhere between 20 and 80
million. The most accurate assumption would be about 40 million people. This is a huge increase
to the number just a few years ago. “The Internet is full of technology and full of tools, all of
which help you to send and receive elecronic mail, participate in discussions about topics, and
access information resources.” (Carroll 9)
The future for the Internet is looking very bright. No other form of communication can
provide the user with such freedom of expression and privacy. All of this may yet change if the
government decides that the net needs to be censored. This is going to be a debate for the future,
one which could determine if the Internet has a future.