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History of the Internet

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What started as a "Galactic Network" concept way back in the sixties resulted in ARPANET and finally in the form we know as the Internet. Originally this concept was intended to provide connectivity between Government agencies and universities, now it provides connectivity from anywhere on Earth and elsewhere. Several protocols evolved over the period of time and the primary protocol of the Net - TCP/IPTransmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol forms the fundamental core of the Internet.

The primary central Authority to coordinate the workings of the Internet was the Network Information Center (NIC) from 2which emerged the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Mostly the new connectivity revolved around Email and Usenet from which it went ahead to include a kind of World Library - Gopher and WWW. In the year 1991, Tim Berners-Lee implemented a Network based Hyper Text concept which finally became the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) as we know today. Until this time, the network of computers was largely used only by the scientific community. With the arrival of HTTP and the graphic browser - MOSAIC at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA) gave the thrust to make Information technology accessible to everyone.

When you talk about the Internet history, we should cover the rapid change in the hardware section as well. In the 1970s, one of the most popular CPU - Central Processing Unit was the 8 bit Zilog Z80 which was an improved version of the Intel 8008 CPU which itself came from the first general purpose CPU Intel 4004 (a 4 bit Ancester CPU). Though 8 bit processor was a considerable improvement over the earlier 4 bit, the quest for high speed and the ability to process/access vast quantities of data started. IBM signalled the arrival of computing for everyone with their IBM PC using Intel 16 bit micro processor - 8088 in 1981.

The following table shows the progress in Micro Processor Technology

CPU Name Architecture Number of Transistors Clock Speed
Intel 4004 4 bit - Year:1971 2300 108 KHz
Intel 8008 8 bit - Year:1972 3500 500 KHz
Intel 8086 16 bit - Year:1978 29000 5 MHz
Intel 286 16 bit - Year:1982 134,000 6 MHz
Intel 386 32 bit - Year:1985 275,000 16 MHz
Intel 486 32 bit - Year:1989 1,200,000 25 MHz
Intel Pentium 32 bit - Year:1993 3,100,000 66 MHz
Intel Pentium Pro 32 bit - Year:1995 5,500,000 200 MHz
Intel Pentium II 32 bit - Year:1997 7,500,000 300 MHz
Intel Pentium III 32 bit - Year:1999 9,500,000 500 MHz
Intel Pentium 4 32 bit - Year:2000 42,000,000 1.5 GHz
Intel Core 2 Duo 64 bit - Year:2006 291,000,000 2.93 GHz
Intel Quad Core Xeon 64 bit - Year:2007 820,000,000 > 3 GHz

Apple launched Macintosh in 1983 using the Motorola 6800 chip. Operating System too saw rapid progress in tune with the hardware innovation. Control Program for Micro Computers (CP/M) gave rise to MS DOS (Microsoft Device Operating System) which depended on a single user shell command line interface (CLI). Apple's pioneering Graphical User Interface (GUI) transformed computing for ever. You no longer need to memorize cryptic commands to issue directives to your computer. Icons representing the action appeared grouped on your screen and input device like mouse reduced the selection to a breeze. Windows 3.1 was the early generation Windows for Microsoft. At the time of writing this page, we have 64 bit CPU and 64 bit Operating Systems which shows the pace of development in this area.

Search Engines: Once the volume of the published material increased to such a large extent, it became imperative that some kind of search facility was required - the birth of Search Engines. Internet is arguably the major invention of the late 20th century which changed the fundamental perception of information dissemination across the World. Around the time of 1994 many search engines made their debut - notably WebCrawler, Lycos, Infoseek and AltaVista which used robots to crawl the pages and index them. They depended on simple algorithm to rank the pages based on keyword density. Eventually when the number of pages increased meteorically, some sort of advanced algorithm to better rank the data was felt. Engines like Inktomi, allthe web and Ask worked on improving their algorithm. Google came on the scene in the year 1998 with an innovative method of ranking called as PageRank.

In this series of pages related to the Internet, we will explore more concepts and how they relate to our lives.

History of the Internet

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History of the Internet