Happy 30th Birthday Internet!

The Internet is 30 today. Exactly 30 years ago today on November 22, 1977 the first three networks were connected to become the Internet. These three were:

  • ARPAnet
  • A lossy packet radio network (the lossiness of this network greatly influenced the design of TCP/IP)
  • The Atlantic Packet Satellite Network (a.k.a. SATNET)

There were computer networks before this, but this was the first network of networks that deliberately attempted to connect heterogeneous systems without regard for platform. It was the thing which grew into today’s Internet. Except for one brief discontinuity in 1983 when the entire Internet was turned off to switch over to TCP/IP, there’s a continuous progression from then to now.

I doubt anyone back then had any idea of what they had created. The Apple II was only a few months old, 300 baud modems were state of the art, and most networks just connected dumb terminals to a mainframe or minicomputer. You could still find medium-sized businesses that didn’t even have any computers, much less a network. Letters were still typed on paper. People still talked about the phone company, because there was only one. Back then a graphical user interface meant a terminal with an interactive green screen instead of punch cards.

E-mail and file transfer were the major applications on the early net. (Some things never change even if the protocols do.) However Usenet and NNTP were still a couple of years away, as were gopher, archie, IRC, Gnutella, BitTorrent, MMPOGs, VOIP, and of course the Web. The Internet spoke NCP, not TCP/IP. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses were imagined only by the most cutting edge science fiction.

The original Internet addresses were 32-bits, like IP4 today. However only the first byte was reserved for network identification. The assumption was that 256 networks would be plenty. Although other groups were busy inventing LANs and Ethernet at the same time, no one really thought of that.

Over the next 30 years the Internet continued to grow in directions no one imagined until they invented it. Arguably the Internet revolution is more important than the computer revolution that enabled it. Unconnected, computers just let us crunch numbers, process data, and and type a few letters. With the Internet computers let us communicate faster, better, and in more ways than ever before. Computers are for data and numbers. The Internet is for people.

What will the next 30 years bring? Will the Internet even last another 30 years or is some other unnoticed research project revving up to sweep away the Internet the way the Internet swept away most competing systems? The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t know, but it should be fun to watch.

18 Responses to “Happy 30th Birthday Internet!”

  1. www.charcourt.com » Blog Archive » The Internet Turns 30 Says:

    [...] article in my RSS reader caught my eye today. elharo writes: The Internet is 30 today. Exactly 30 years ago today on November 22, 1977 the first three networks [...]

  2. meneame.net Says:

    Feliz cumpleaños: 30 años de Internet

    [Inglés] Hoy día 22 de noviembre se celebra el trigésimo aniversario de Internet. Tal día como hoy, en 1977, se interconectaron las primeras tres redes para crear Internet: ARPAnet, SATNET (red atlántica de paquetes vía satélite) y una tercera r…

  3. Parabéns, Internet! « Atrium - Media e Cidadania Says:

    [...] 5:39 PM’ por Luis Santos A ligação original entre três redes terá acontecido no dia 22 de Novembro de 1977. Há trinta anos, portanto. Três [...]

  4. John Cowan Says:

    Well, sort of. I never heard the term “graphical user interface” until it emerged fully grown from the forehead of Xerox. And the alternative to the green screen wasn’t punch cards — only IBM mainframes did punch cards, and they had green screens too — it was printing terminals like various Teletypes and the DECwriter, a slow pin-feed printer that could print one letter at a time and had a keyboard attached.

  5. [ fractura.net ] » Blog Archive » 30 Anos de Internet! Says:

    [...] Ah pois… tinha eu 12 e era ficção científica… [...]

  6. Leo Richard Comerford Says:

    The world didn’t have long to wait for the worm: one of John F. Schoch’s worms ran amok and crashed Xerox PARC’s Ethernet as early as 1978, according to Dealers of Lightning by Michael A. Hiltzik. The worms were named after Brunner’s ‘tapeworm’, but Schoch had arrived at the concept independently. They might even have been running before the November 1977 watershed. (It’s hard to say because even the relevant academic papers I’ve searched up (like The “worm” programs — early experience with a distributed computation and The internet worm program: an analysis) are extremely vague and apparently contradictory about the precise dates.)

  7. www.teknear.com Says:

    Feliz cumpleaños: 30 años de Internet

    Este post fue agregado a teknear.com para votarlo. Votalo!

  8. Feliz Cumpleaños “Internet” | Bloggarte Says:

    [...] The cafes Bookmarks Hide [...]

  9. jaux.net » Blog Archive » Happy Birthday, Internet Says:

    [...] more | via The Cafes [...]

  10. Happy 30th Birthday Internet! « Bizwriter Says:

    [...] Happy 30th Birthday Internet! Posted on November 23, 2007 by bizwriter The Internet is 30 today. Exactly 30 years ago today on November 22, 1977 the first three networks w… [...]

  11. czr » Blog Archive » Happy 30th Birthday Internet! Says:

    [...] http://cafe.elharo.com/internet/happy-30th-birthday-internet/ [...]

  12. Internet Is 30 Years Old | iface thoughts Says:

    [...] Rusty Harold reminds us that Internet went into the 30s on 22nd November 1997. A network of heterogeneous networks, that gives you and me the freedom to choose the hardware and [...]

  13. ¡Feliz 30 cumpleaños Internet! « El Planeta Blanco de Marta Says:

    [...] cafe.elharo.com Posted in curiosidades, internet. Tags: curiosidades, [...]

  14. ...time is what you make of it... Says:

    Dreaming an Apple…

    Oggi sono rimasto tutto il giorno all’università… e stasera tornando a casa ho ripensato alla notizia letta di fretta stamattina: i computer Apple venduti fino al 14 Gennaio godranno del finanziamento a tasso zero.
    Così la domanda era: me…

  15. www.elrincondejesus.com Says:

    Feliz cumpleaños: 30 años de Internet

    Hoy día 22 de noviembre se celebra el trigésimo aniversario de Internet. Tal día como hoy, en 1977, se interconectaron las primeras tres redes para crear Internet: ARPAnet, SATNET (red atlántica de paquetes vía satélite) y una tercera red de paqu…

  16. a internet, esta balzaca « Chá Quente Says:

    [...] que a UCLA não fala é que só oito anos depois, em 77, a conexão da ARPANet foi feita entre três diferentes pontos que usavam plataformas diferentes para trocar informações, um dos pilares da internet comercial [...]

  17. links for 2007-12-02 at Pressure to Bear… Says:

    [...] The Cafes » Happy 30th Birthday Internet! The internet and myself share the same month of birth… Not too much of a surprise; the internet was made for me. (tags: internet history birthday) [...]

  18. ??????? » [Web] ???? Says:

    [...] Happy 30th Birthday Internet! [...]

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