At a time when we were improving Turing’s coding and computation base, winning technologies in World War II, it was hard to imagine the new preparation for a military scenario, cold and nuclear. See below, who invented the internet, its main characters and moments, the evolution of this technology that, today, many have already known in its “peaceful” form.
The inventor’s name
No, it’s not Google. It would be impossible and even irresponsible to try to determine the name of a single human being by creating the greatest communication and data exchange tool we have in our hands. The most we can do is remember those crucial icons in development to get a feel for who invented the internet.
- Paul Baran: an engineer whose work coincided with the ARPA research in 1964, Baran proposed a communication network without a central command point (no target to be destroyed);
- Lawrance “Larry” Roberts: ARPA’s chief scientist, responsible for the development of computer networks. Based on Baran’s idea, he began working on creating a distributed network;
- Leonard Kleinrock: The scientist who worked alongside Lawrance Roberts ;
- Donald Davies: British scientists, at the same time as the Americans, worked on creating distributed networks;
- Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf: American computer scientists who developed TCP/ IP, the set of protocols that govern how data moves on a network;
- Paul Mockapetris and Jon Postel: creators of the DNS ;
- Tim Berners-Lee: creator of the (www) World Wide Web and developer of many of the principles we still use today, such as HTML, HTTP, URLs and web browsers;
- Marc Andressen: inventor of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser, predating Netscape.
Arpanet and the Cold War
Before the technological creation that would come to be the internet, communications were made by telephone and telegraph cables, interconnecting all countries and continents, perfectly functional for a scenario of local conflict.
After the Cold War, with the advent of nuclear bombs and a constant threat of global annihilation, a form of communication that did not depend “so much” on physical means became necessary.
The Internet began in the 1960s as a way for US government researchers to share information. Computers of this generation were large and immobile and, to make use of the information stored in anyone, it was necessary to go to the computer’s (local) site or receive magnetic tapes sent by the conventional postal system.
With the warming of the Cold War, the fear of having information intercepted or not trafficable was the biggest catalyst for the internet’s embryo.
The Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik satellite spurred the US Department of Defense to consider ways in which information could still be disseminated, even after a nuclear attack.
This eventually led to the formation of Arpanet (Advanced Research Project Agencies Network), the network that eventually evolved into what we now know as the Internet. The ARPANET was a great success, but their limited adhesion to certain academic and research organizations that had contracts with the Department of Defense.
Arpanet, the embryo of the internet
US President Dwight D. Eisenhower formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in 1958, bringing together some of the best scientific minds in the country. The goal was to help American military technology stay ahead of its enemies.
Lawrence Roberts was responsible for the development of computer networks at ARPA, working with scientist Leonard Kleinrock. Roberts was the first person to connect two computers. When the first packet-switched network was developed in 1969, Kleinrock successfully used it to send messages to another site, and the ARPA network—or Arpanet —was born.
Once it was up and running, it quickly expanded. By 1973, 30 academic, military and research institutions had joined the network, connecting places like Hawaii, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The solution for greater adhesion was also what motivated its extinction for having created something much bigger than any government.
Expansion and extinction of Arpanet
As Arpanet grew, a set of rules for dealing with data packets needed to be implemented. In 1974, computer scientists Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf invented a new method called a transmission control protocol, popularly known as TCP/IP, which essentially allowed computers to “speak” the same language.
After the introduction of TCP/IP, Arpanet quickly grew to become an interconnected global network of networks, called the Internet. With the loss of “control”, Arpanet was discontinued in 1990.
The Age of the “Free” Internet
The invention of DNS, the widespread use of TCP/IP, and the popularity of email have caused an explosion of activity on the Internet. Between 1986 and 1987, the network grew from 2,000 hosts to 30,000.
However, advanced computer knowledge was still needed to dial and connect to the system and use it smoothly. Another hurdle was that there was still no agreement on how the network’s documents would be formatted.
The internet needed to be easier to use. In 1989, a British computer scientist named Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal to his employer, CERN, the international particle research laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.
Berners-Lee proposed a new way of structuring and linking all the information available on CERN’s computer network, making it quick and easy to access. His concept of the “information network” would eventually become the World Wide Web (www).
In 1995, the Internet and the World Wide Web were established phenomena: the Netscape browser, which was the most popular at the time, had around 10 million global users.
The growth didn’t stop there, the consumption due to its ease, commercial expansion and the smartphones that keep you connected all the time, were just a preview of what we’ll see in some 20 years — or less. The fact is: there is no one “who invented the internet”, but rather who contributed to the expansion of this “living organism.