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A potted history of the Internet

A caption can easily be added to any picture In 1962, the US government's RAND Corporation was commissioned by the US Air Force to work out how it could maintain command and control of its missiles and bombers after a nuclear attack. The study concluded that a packet switched network was the answer and in 1968, the US's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) contracted US company BBN to test the therory by linking together the major computers of four US universities using a 50 Kbps network.

In 1969, the resultant ‘ARPAnet’ was brought online and during the following year, more government agencies, universities and companies were plugged in to the network as it slowly grew in size. Packet switching worked but further growth of the ARPAnet was becoming limited by its data transfer protocol: Network Control Protocol (NCP).

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In 1973...

In 1973, development began by ARPA on a new protocol to allow a more diverse range of computer networks to interconnect and communicate with each other, and in 1974 the term 'Internet' was first used in a paper about the new Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). At the same time, a new addressing and routing protocol was devised, which became known as Internet Protocol (IP). More Information

In 1976...

In 1976, the US Department of Defence began to experiment with and develop what later became known as TCP/IP, and by 1983, all computers on the ARPAnet were required to use it. In the same year, the University of Wisconsin created the Domain Name System (DNS) which allowed packets of data to be tied to computer IP numbers by an easy-to-remember domain name. More Information

In 1986...

In 1986, the US National Science Foundation established the NSFNet as a cross-country backbone for the Internet and set rules for its government and research use. Also in this year, Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) proposed a new protocol for information distribution, which became the World Wide Web in 1991. More Information

In 1993...

In 1993, the first graphical browser, 'Mosaic for X', was developed by Marc Andreessen, who went on to form Netscape Corp, and in 1998 Windows 98 was released with an integrated browser. Since then the Internet has grown beyond all expectations and the World Wide Web (which runs on the internet but is not the same) has become a mainstream tool for commercial communications. More Information

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A search engine creates an index of the World Wide Web through automated means, and allows users to search for matches to phrases.

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Search engines send out virtual 'robots' (also known as 'spiders') that crawl the internet non-stop, following links from page to page, site to site.

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They are just automated website visitors. If you can imagine someone sitting at a computer and visiting thousands of websites, one after the other...

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...following links from one site to the next and remembering where they've been, that's not too far removed from how the robots work.