For many of us, our work life, home life, and everything in between revolve around the internet. But for such a big part of modern society, it hasn’t been around that long. It may seem like this massive, timeless leviathan, but the internet as we know it started off extremely small. So, when the internet begin?
When Did The Internet Begin?
Well, it all started with the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA. President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the program in 1958, not long after the USSR launched Sputnik, the first-ever manmade satellite. The Americans worried they were losing technological supremacy, so Ike decided to fix that by starting up ARPA.
Enter J.C.R Licklider, a computer scientist at MIT who, in 1962, envisioned linking computers together in what he called a “Galactic Network.” Months after first mentioning this concept in memos, ARPA brought in Licklider to head the computer research program at ARPA (by this time called DARPA).
Though the computers of the day were room-sized behemoths that worked on magnetic tape and punch cards, the scientists at DARPA managed to make Licklider’s dream a reality. They started by connecting computers at UCLA and Stanford. Soon after, they added machines at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah.
Soon enough, they created ARPANET, the first-ever computer network—but not the internet. As the years went by, scientists working in other parts of the world created their own networking projects. Slowly, across decades, computer scientists connected these networks to one another, eventually creating the modern internet.
Since ARPANET was the original, much of its fundamental protocols are still used on the internet today.
World Wide Web
But up until the early 1990s, the “internet” was mostly just used by government employees, university students, and hardcore computer scientists. It wasn’t until Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web in 1990 that the rest of the world could get online and join the internet.
The internet is a vast network of connected computers, like stars in the night’s sky. The World Wide Web gave us the binoculars to access them for ourselves. So while the often-claimed “Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet” isn’t quite accurate, he is certainly responsible for bringing it to your fingertips. Even if it’s not “inventing the internet,” it’s still probably worth a thank you.