Without computers, we would not have the Internet, but the Internet far supersedes the computer in order of importance. It is fair to say that the Internet is the new Library of Alexandria. The Internet now stores an immense portion of human knowledge and it is not just available to an elite few – it is available to every man, woman, and child in the free world. For many of us, our daily life relies heavily on the internet – not just for information gathering and research, but for shopping, entertainment, news, and communication. It allows us to speak to any person on the planet without the high costs imposed by telephone companies. The Internet has launched the careers of many great artists – people who would normally be overlooked by the mainstream industries they work in. There can be no doubt, the Internet is the greatest wonder of the technological world.
The USSR’s launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA, in February 1958 to regain a technological lead. After much work, the first node went live at UCLA on October 29, 1969 on what would be called the ARPANET, one of the “eve” networks of today’s Internet. The first TCP/IP-wide area network was operational by January 1, 1983, when the United States’ National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university network backbone that would later become the NSFNet. It was then followed by the opening of the network to commercial interests in 1985. Important, separate networks that offered gateways into, then later merged with, the NSFNet include Usenet, BITNET and the various commercial and educational networks, such as X.25, Compuserve and JANET.