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In What Year was the Internet Invented?

written by: Keith Elliott•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 9/28/2010

Do you know when the Internet was invented? This is a question that is debated to this day and may always be surrounded by discussion. This article examines the when, who and how of the Internet's invention.

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    In the beginning....

    The Internet was invented in 1962 when visionaries from MIT such as J.C.R. Licklide, Leonard Kleinroc, and Lawrence Roberts, found great use in allowing computers to share data for scientific and military reasons. In 1962 Licklide's vision of networking was moved from a proposition at MIT to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency other-wise known as DARPA. In 1965 Leonard Kleinrock developed the theory of packet-switching technology which is now the same basic technology used in the Internet.

    This same year Lawrence Roberts tried to establish a network connection through the a telephone line's circuit-switch technology but failed, quickly proving the telephone line inadequate and paving the way for Kleinrock's packet-switching technology to succeed.

    In 1966 Roberts moved over to DARPA and was developing the theory of the Internet known as ARPANET but by 1969 it was renamed ARPA as the contract had changed to the Advanced Research Projects Agency which allowed 4 computers to communicate across telephone lines using packet-switching technology.

    By 1969 four computers were online in the southwest of the United States and ARPA was functional. During the next 4 years more and more computers were brought online. Most of these computers were at universities and research laboratories and this allowed the technology to further prove itself as the best option for a wide-area network connecting computers from anywhere using packet-switching technology.

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    MIT Visionary, J.C.R. Licklide
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    The Idea

    The basic idea of the Internet was to keep the communication alive at all times even during catastrophic events such nuclear attacks when some sites might be destroyed. The network was independent of the computers connected to it.

    During the 1970’s TCP/IP technology and protocol matured further, and in the early 1980s TCP/IP was adopted as the main protocol for communication across the network from computer-to-computer. TCP/IP is Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. It allows for all types of computer systems to communicate even if they do not have the TCP/IP protocol built into the operating systems. It was globally accepted as the main form of communication in 1983 when the U.S. Defense Department adopted it as a replacement for their communication protocol.

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    Diagram of basic TCP/IT modeling still used today
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    Technology is better over time

    Although rough and not well developed, the connection of computers across a network or the Internet was invented in 1962 and was smoothed out over the next 20 years until it began to resemble the technology used as the backbone of the Internet today. There were many people involved in its development but J.C.R. Licklide, Leonard Kleinroc, and Lawrence Roberts are generally considered the founders of the Internet. Today the theories and protocols they developed are still used and have only strengthened over time. TCP/IP is what brought all the different types of computers and operating systems together and allowed the Internet to flourish.