Feature Article

May 21, 2018

The Evolution of the Web

The history and development of the World Wide Web started with the assembly of the computer in the early 1950s. The very first concepts concerning a wide area network and the best language for web development began in the very first laboratories of computer science. These computer labs were located in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Department of Defense in the Pentagon had awarded web development and internet-related contracts from the 1960s. These contracts included the ARPANET development that was managed by Lawrence Roberts and directed by Robert Taylor. In 1969, the first form of communication was made over the ARPANET through a message sent from a laboratory owned by Leonard Kleinrock. Kleinrock served as a professor of computer science in the University of California, LA.

The message was sent to the second node of the communication network at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). The development of Packet switching networks begun in the late 60s and the early 70s. These networks included Telenet, CYCLADES, Merit Network, Tymnet, ARPANET and the NPL network. Packet switching networks of that time were developed using various communication protocols. Packet switching was first demonstrated by Donald Davies in 1967 in the United Kingdom at the national lab of physics. This demonstration became the testbed for all computer research in the United Kingdom for over 20 years. The protocols for the internet were developed from the ARPANET project. In this project, many separate communication networks could be incorporated in a network of many other networks.

The Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP)
The Internet protocol suite otherwise known as the TCP or just IP was developed by Vint Cerf and Robert E. Kahn. The IP became the ARPANET’s standard networking protocol. This technology also incorporated concepts from the CYCLADES project in France that was headed by Louis Pouzin. During the 1980s, the establishment of supercomputing centers at institutions of higher learning was funded by the NSF. This project was critical to providing connectivity with project NSFNET in 1986. The NSFNET project created network access to education and research organizations from the supercomputer sites in the US. In the late 1980s, there was the emergence of the commercial internet providers that are popularly known as the ISPs. In 1990, ARPANET was decommissioned. In that same decade, official commercial entities limited the access to some parts of the internet in some private connections. In 1995, the NSFNET was decommissioned which led to the removal of the last restrictions on internet access to carry commercial traffic.

The principle of data communication was initialized during the birth of the very first computers. Data communication can be described as the science of data transmission between two or more different locations via an electromagnetic medium. Such medium may be in the form of an electric wire or a radio. Such modes of communications had the limitation of point to point connection between two end gadgets. Telex machines and telegraph systems can be considered as the very first precursors of this form of communication. In the late 19th century, the very first communication system that was fully digital was the telegraph. The most fundamental work and theory regarding information theory and data transmission was first developed in the early 20th century by Ralph Hartley, Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon. The very first computers had remote terminals and a central processing unit. Communication over longer distances was made possible by the development of new systems as technology continued to evolve.

Merit Network
The exploration of computer networking by the Michigan Educational Research Information Triad led to the formation of the Merit Network in 1966. The network connected three public universities in Michigan as way of helping the economic and education development in the state. The packet-switched network was developed and demonstrated for the first time in December 1971. This success was courtesy of funding from the National Science Foundation popularly known as the NSF and the state government of Michigan. The demonstration in 1971 involved an interactive connection of host to host terminals between the IBM computer systems at the Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Michigan.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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