The History of the Internet - Part 2

Today Doc finishes up his brief history of the Internet, which is continued from last week. Check it out.
Published: Oct 20, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan

This question submitted by Kathy Riley, Bill Dennison, DeniseRoberts, Paul Schnyder, Alicia McDougal, and numerous others

Last week I covered the early days of what we now call the Internet,from 1960 to 1990. Today we'll finish up. If you'd like to read Part 1click HERE.

Stable and Growing

By 1990 the early Internet was beginning to be more stable and more computers were becoming part of the network. The biggest problem with the Internet was the interface. Around 1991 the folks at the University of Minnesota began work on a menu system that they called Gopher.Why gopher? Because it was the school mascot. The "gopher" simplified the interface because it didn't require an understanding of UNIX.

Fairly quickly thousands of "gophers" sprang up all over the world.Their use was improved by a system called VERONICA, which was an index of gopher menus that could be searched. In 1993 the team from the National Center For Supercomputing Applications or NCSA, headed by Marc Andreessen, developed the browser called Mosaic. Many of you may recognize Mr. Andreessen's name as the man behind Netscape. Things were starting to move now.

More Standardization

With so many people, from so many countries, all working on the Internet there was a serious danger of it becoming mass confusion. New protocols were being developed and there was a need for further standardization.Try to imagine how confusing it would be, for example, if there were 19different types of VHS tapes and none of them were compatible with each other. The Internet could have become just like that if not for the World Wide Web Consortium that was formed in 1994. The consortium created a foundation of standards that helped to stabilize the Internet as it moved forward. Up until this point the Internet had always been used for non-commercial things. Education, government, research, and the like. That was changing and things would never be the same.

Internet - Live!

In 1995 the National Science Foundation stopped funding the Internet and from that point on all traffic had to flow through commercial networks.Sites like CompuServe, America Online, Delphi, and Prodigy began to provide Internet access to their users. This began a period of amazing growth for the Internet. Windows 98, released in 1998, was built around Internet Explorer and Microsoft invested heavily in Internet-related software. These things helped introduce millions of new users around the world to the Internet.

In those early days the Internet cruised along on 56K modems, but today there are a growing number of alternatives. Cable offers access at very high speeds as does DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines). I also used a high speed satellite connection for a number of years with good results.Things will continue to move faster and faster and things will continue to change.

Use of the Internet has grown tremendously since the mid-1990's. A large number of businesses that became known as the Dot-Coms exploded onto the scene. Many of these provided free services and sold large amounts of advertising to help cover the costs. Some of these went on to do very well, while others collapsed totally. More and more users are coming to trust the Internet when it comes to making purchases and there are many things for sale. At the same time, there are fewer things that you can get for free.

Moving forward the Internet will continue to grow. The biggest problem is who will pay for it. From my perspective this is something that will have to be dealt with. One of my favorite science fiction authors, Robert A. Heinlein said in one of his books, "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!" or TANSTAFL! And really that's true in all areas of life. Someone has to pay for the cost of bandwidth, thecost of servers, the cost of modems, and other hardware. Someone has to pay the columnists, the reviewers, the Web site designers, and all of the others who now work on the Internet.

The Internet has become an invaluable tool for all kinds of things. For research, for shopping, for obtaining good software, and lots, lots,more. I wonder what it will be like in five years or in 10?

Comments PRN - After posting part 1 last week I received numerous emails. Nearly all of these pointed out to me that the Americans did not create the Internet. The Scots had. The Swiss had. The Germans had. The English had. You get the idea. I had prefaced my remarks by saying that these two, short articles were notmeant to be a comprehensive history of the creation of the Internet.Rather, it's more of a brief explanation of how things came about. This is based on my own, personal experience and what I have read over the years. The inventions of certain protocols, like TCP/IP, UUCP, and others are well documented. The Internet is a project that spans the globe and all of the countries on it. So many people contributed to the creation of the Internet that I doubt anyone could list them all. So, I hope that all of you will take this brief history in the light in which it was written. As a simple guide to some of the things that happened to create what we all use today as the Internet. - Doc

I'd like to thank Kathy Riley, Bill Dennison, Denise Roberts, Paul Schnyder, Alicia McDougal, and numerous others for asking this question.

If you have a question on any technology topic that you'd like someone to tell you about you can submit it via email by clicking HERE You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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