Internet “Beam me up, Scottie.” This popular line from Star Trek was a demonstration of the advanced technology of the future. Though it was a fictional story, Star Trek became the universal vision of the future. As always reality tends to mimic fiction. Though our society has not quite resulted to living in space, we have made life easier with technology. Economic survival has become more dependent upon information and communications bringing forth new technology of which was never thought possible.
Just a mere thirty years ago a computer occupied a whole room compared todays palm sized computers, which are faster and perform more functions. Cellular phones, now light and compact, were bulky just ten years ago. The most incredible invention, the Internet, is bringing infinite amount of information to your desktop. In the world of the of the Internet there exist a world blind to skin color and other physical appearances. The Internet while still young in age has grown rapidly, spreading to countries world wide and connecting 50 million users.
With its popularity, it is incumbent upon our society to recognize how the Internet works and to be aware of its advantages as well as disadvantages. While seemingly high tech the Internet concept is rather simple. Computers speak to one another and send information. This is accomplished by sending and receiving electronic impulse, and then decoding them into a message. In order to communicate with one another they are linked up in a network. They are then able to access information from thousands of other computers.
The network acts like one large computer storing information in various places, rather than in one physical structure. Users tap into the Internet to access or provide information. Internet technology allows one to surf the World Wide Web or send e-mail. The vision of the Internet that would revolutionize the computer and communications belonged to JCR Licklider of MIT (Leiner n. page). In August of 1962 he envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers which would allow everyone to quickly access data and programs (Leiner n.
page). A government sponsored project at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started in October (Leiner n. page). The race for discovery of such technology raged between the Soviet Union and The United States of America. Both countries wanted control of the possibly powerful tool.
Then in 1968, The National Physical Laboratory in Great Britain set up the first test network, which prompted the Pentagons ARPA to fund a larger project in the USA. (Sterling n. page) However the race was not limited to just nations but also companies. In 1965, working with Thomas Merrill, Lawrence G. Roberts created the first wide-area computer ever built.
These experiments proved that computers could work together running programs and retrieving data as necessary on remote machines. Roberts put together his plan for ARPANET, published in 1966. At that time he learned of Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury of NPL and Paul Baron and others at RAND. Research at MIT (1961-1967), RAND (1962-1965) and NPL (1964-1967) while parallel had no knowledge of one another. In August of 1968 an RFQ, a refined model of ARPANET was released for the development of one of the key components, the packet switches Interface Message Processors (IMP). Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) installed the first IMP at UCLA and the first host computer was connected.
By the end of 1969 four host computers were connected together into the initial ARPANET and the Internet was off the ground. In 1977, electronic mail was introduced. (Leiner n. page) As the Internet quickly grew, changes were necessary. The Internets decentralized structure made it easy to expand but its NCP did not have the ability to address networks further down stream than the destination IMP. Bob Kahn decided to develop a new version of the protocol which eventually became known as the Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
Compared to the NCP which acted as a device driver, the new protocol was more like a communication protocol. In order to make it easier to use, Host were then assigned names, replacing numbers. A group of scientist then set out to show that a compact and simple implementation of TCP was possible. They succeeded, allowing it to run on desktop computers. (Leiner n.
page). Original uses of the Internet included government communications and a forum for scientist to share ideas and help one another in research. In the 1980s the Internet grew beyond its primarily research roots to include a broad user community and increased commercial activity. In present day it has become a tool for conducting research and finding information, as well as communications with others. Electronic mail, amazingly popular, with chat rooms and discussion groups makes the Internet a popular place for meeting new people. (Leiner n.
page). Perhaps the largest shift is in the profile of Internet users. In the beginning users were scientist and government officials: those highly educated and well trained. However todays 50 million users are all ages and from all backgrounds (Why use the Internet? n. page). Access to the Internet is no longer limited and can be found just about everywhere including schools, colleges, libraries, and at home.
In 1992 the Internet had a growth of twenty percent every month (Why use the Internet? n.page). A developer of the Internet said, “If the Internet stumbles, it will not be because we lack for technology, vision, or motivation. It will be because we cannot set a direction and march collectively into the future.” ( Leiner n. page) Clearly the Internet has brought many conveniences. Businesses and students benefit from the technology as well as those who use the Internet for personal uses. Over 50 million people used the Internet in 1995 and by the year 2000 the number is predicted to be over 150 million (Why your company should be on the Internet n.
page). Fortune Magazine said, “The Internet is the biggest and earliest manifestation of the way business is going to be conducted from now on.” Companies are embracing the Internet and those who do not will be left behind (Why use the Internet? n. page). The Internet opens a wider audience to companies providing customers valuable information via mailing lists. Space on the Internet is inexpensive compared to paper, radio and television advertisements, therefore companies reach a broader community with little cost (Why use the Internet? n.
page). Most web users are well educated Americans with professional or technical jobs with median annual salary of $69,000, making them a prime target group. Opening a storefront online gives the advantage of always being open. The Internet is a fair playing field for large and small companies alike. Computer networks track inventory and consumer demand resulting in increased profits (Why Minnesota Students Need Access to the Internet n.
page). Remote video conferencing and Internet phones allow companies to conduct live chat sessions with clients around the world. Data bases are available for public or private uses. Companies can transfer files, bulletins or e-mail …