the Internet

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It's a series of tubes.

The Internet is the vast interconnected mass of computers all over the world. The staggering volume of people who use the Internet has created a demand for just about every kind of stuff. The LIC (Larg's Internet Cluster) was created to handle Internet requests for stuff.

what it is

Internet procrastinationIf you don't have an idea of what the Internet is, you are (a) in the wrong time dimension and (b) doing very well to read this. The Internet represents the most effective democratisation of knowledge that has ever happened. Individuals and organisations exchange information using the Internet. Data flows across the world 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Computers on the Internet are able to communicate because they all follow the same sets of rules. A set of rules defining how computers talk to each other is called a protocol. There are lots of protocols that make the Internet work: these have the collective name of TCP/IP. The name is a combination of the two main protocols, TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol). There are over 70 TCP/IP protocols in total. Geek heaven.

Government organisations and private companies provide the infrastructure that makes up the backbone of the Internet. Individuals connect their computers to the Internet with the help of ISPs (Internet Service Providers)/a> . There are plenty of types of connection, such as telephone line, TV cable, satellite and even electricity line. A computer connected to the Internet is called an Internet host because it can host Internet services. Millions of hosts supply information to Internet users.

the Internet

Because the routing is so open, Internet traffic is difficult to police and secure. Many ISPs refuse to provide the naughtier services.

The Internet is often represented as a cloud in diagrams. There are so many computers connected by so many bits of wet string that they cannot be drawn. A cloud is used instead.

what it isn't

WWW and Internet are not interchangeable. A web site is a geographical location in Internet land. It is provided by a server that runs on an Internet host. Web sites are collectively called the World Wide Web (WWW). If the Internet is a tree then the WWW is the leafy part.

where it is

Internet users around the world in 2006
Canada & USA
183 million
Latin America
33 million
Middle East
5 million
191 million
187 million
6 million

From the point of view of the LIC, the Internet lies on the far side of the Internet routers (if this sounds like technobabble to you then breathe a sigh of relief because you can happily skip this section). All Internet and extranet webservers are part of the Internet because their addresses are advertised to Internet routers and the firewalls let in connections to these addresses. No Internet connections are allowed to penetrate any further into the LIC, such as web clients directly to application servers.


In the 1850s the telegraph became the first international electronic network.

In the 1940s Vannevar Bush, director of the OSRD (Office of Scientific Research and Development), turned US military research into a powerful force.

In 1957 ARPA (the Advanced Research Projects Agency) was formed by the US govt. heralding the beginning of the Internet era.

In the early 1960s J.C.R. Licklider, a visionary manager at ARPA, came up with the idea of an intergalactic network. The Internet was based on this idea.

Later in the 1960s ARPA boffins started to build the ARPANET. The idea was to let network traffic find its way through whatever routes possible from one computer to another. Some people say military chiefs wanted a resilient national computer network that could withstand nuclear bombs removing big chunks of it. Others say they wanted to remove their dependance on the telecoms companies who were charging them huge amounts of money in line rental.




We have come a long way in 50 years. In some countries there is a computer in nearly every home, providing convenient Internet access. Optical fibres circle the globe, providing the bandwidth for exchanging vast amounts of information. The milestones along the way are summarised in the table below, plagiarised from The Open Encyclopedia Project.


The table below is a short and condensed timeline of the Internet.
History Event Overview
Name Start Time Topic
ARPA 1957 The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is formed by the US govt. heralding the beginning of the Internet era.
RAND 1962 Rand Paul Baran, of the RAND Corporation proposes the concept of a packet switched network.
ARPANET 1968 ARPANET begins, with the four initial nodes at University of California at Los Angeles, SRI (in Stanford), University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Utah. The network was connected by 56 Kbps circuits.
Email 1972 The first e-mail program was written. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was renamed as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
TCP/IP 1973 Work begins on what would be later TCP/IP protocol. The project was developed by a group headed by Vinton Cerf from Stanford and Bob Kahn from DARPA. This new protocol would allow all types of computer networks to interconnect and communicate with each other.
TCP 1974 The term Internet is first coined by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn in a paper on Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Ethernet 1976 Ethernet developed by Dr.Robert M. Metcalfe bringing closer the age of the LAN or the Local Area Network. Satellites connected European and American networks. UUCP (Unix-to-Unix CoPy) was developed at AT&T Bell Labs and distributed with UNIX one year later. The Department of Defense decided to use TCP/IP on the ARPANET.
USENET 1979 USENET (the decentralized news group network) was created by Steve Bellovin, a graduate student at University of North Carolina, and programmers Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. It was based on UUCP, and it revolutionised the use of the Internet. IBM created 'Because its Time Network' or BITNET, introduced the store and forward network. It was used for email and listservs.
CSNET 1981 The National Science Foundation created the CSNET: a 56 Kbps network for institutions without access to ARPANET. Vinton Cerf proposed a plan for an inter-network connection between CSNET and the ARPANET.
TCP/IP 1983 On January 1st, every machine connected to ARPANET switched to TCP/IP. TCP/IP became the core Internet protocol and replaced NCP entirely. The Internet Activities Board (IAB) was created. The University of Wisconsin created Domain Name System (DNS), a significant step towards making the Internet more 'user friendly'. This system allowed packets to be directed to a domain name, which would be translated by the server database into the corresponding IP number. This made it much easier for people to access other servers, because they no longer had to remember numbers; only names did the task.
ARPANET 1984 ARPANET divided into MILNET and ARPANET. The former was to be used by the miltary, while the latter for R&D.Department of Defense continued to support both networks. Upgrade to CSNET began, with T1 lines (1.5 Mbps). IBM was to provide the routers and Merit was to be the network manager. New network was to be called NSFNET (National Science Foundation Network).
IETF 1986 The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was created to serve as a forum for technical coordination by contractors for DARPA working on ARPANET, US Defense Data Network (DDN), and the Internet core gateway system.
BITNET 1987 BITNET and CSNET merged to form the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN).
ANS 1990 Merit, IBM and MCI formed a non profit corporation called ANS, Advanced Network & Services, which was to conduct research into high speed networking. It soon came up with the concept of the T3, a 45 Mbps line. National Science Foundation quickly adopted the new network and by the end of 1991 all of its sites were connected system. During this time, the Department of Defense disbanded the ARPANET and it was replaced by the NSFNET backbone. Tim Berners-Lee and CERN in Geneva implements a hypertext system to provide efficient information access to the members of the international high-energy physics community. This was the beginning of the World Wide Web (WWW).
Commercial Internet 1991 The National Science Foundation lifted restrictions on the Internet allowing commercial use.
Upgrades 1992 Internet Society is chartered.World-Wide Web released by CERN. NSFNET backbone upgraded to T3 (44.736Mbps).
InterNIC 1993 InterNIC created by NSF to provide specific Internet services: directory and database services (by AT&T), registration services (by Network Solutions Inc.), and information services (by General Atomics/CERFnet). Marc Andreessen and NCSA and the University of Illinois develops a graphical user interface to the WWW, called 'Mosaic for X'; another step towards making the net more 'user friendly'.
Growth 1994 Huge growth of the internet, along with online pizza ordering, and cyberbanks. ATM (Asynchronous Transmission Mode, 145Mbps) backbone is installed on NSFNET.
NSF 1995 The National Science Foundation announced that as of April 30, 1995 it would no longer allow direct access to the NSF backbone. The National Science Foundation made a contract with four companies that would be providers of access to the NSF backbone (Merit). These companies would then sell connections to groups, organizations, and companies. A $50 annual fee is imposed on domains, excluding .edu and .gov domains which are still funded by the National Science Foundation.
ISPs 1995 Internet Access begins to become common place with private dialup services offering Internet access.
6bone 1996 The 6bone was created to act as a virtual testbed network where the sixth version of the Internet Protocol could be tested.