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ARPANet & the Birth of the Web

From Wikipedia:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies which have had a major effect on the world, including computer networking, as well as NLS, which was both the first hypertext system, and an important precursor to the contemporary ubiquitous graphical user interface.

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Overview of the Original ARPAnet and

A quick informational piece about the impetus for development of the ARPAnet and it’s implications and how it got interfaced with other contemporaneous computer networks. This set the stage for civilian and miltary implementations of the internet and what, eventually, would become the World Wide Web.

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Its original name was simply Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), but it was renamed to "DARPA" (for Defense) in March 1972, then renamed "ARPA" again in February 1993, and then renamed "DARPA" again in March 1996.
DARPA was established during 1958 (as ARPA) in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik during 1957, with the mission of keeping U.S. military technology more sophisticated than that of the nation’s potential enemies. From DARPA’s own introduction,

DARPA’s original mission, established in 1958, was to prevent technological surprise like the launch of Sputnik, which signaled that the Soviets had beaten the U.S. into space. The mission statement has evolved over time. Today, DARPA’s mission is still to prevent technological surprise to the US, but also to create technological surprise for its enemies.

DARPA is independent from other more conventional military R&D and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA has around 240 personnel (about 140 technical) directly managing a $3.2 billion budget. These figures are "on average" since DARPA focuses on short-term (two to four-year) projects run by small, purpose-built teams.

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  arpanet 15 node diagram 1969arpanet 15 node diagram 1971

Above; diagrams of network topology circa 1969 (at four nodes only) and 15 nodes in April 1971. Click on images to enlarge.

Early use of ‘packet switching technology’ and associated I/O protocols brought about the possibility of computer sharing over a linear or distributed network. IP protocols soon permitted full exploitation of such systems. Once the first limited networks and interfaces/protocols were set up – the expansion of the ‘network’ was limited only by the availabilty of computers. Early modems also permitted some degree of connectivity from remote and temporary station terminals. The earliest form of interface/protocol was called an ‘IMP’, short for ‘Interface Message Processor’ – an early protocol that lacked the capabilities of the later ‘TCP/IP’ which is still currently in use. Both IMP and TCP/IP are software based interfaces which control and direct the flow of signal traffic to and from the attached machines. However each IMP still required a minicomputer (something like halfway between a personal computer and a mainframe) in order to control things.

apranet diagram

Part of this protocol was the assignment and navigation of machine or what we now call IP numbers, or addresses, which is how individual specific interfaces/machines are found and communicated with on the network.

One of the challenging aspects of this exercise was connecting the european and american internets over large transatlantic cables, or trunk lines. A separate protocol, called the EGP or Exterior Gateway Protocol is developed for this purpose around 1982 in order to start assimilating traffic across world networks.

With the development of desktop based workstations by IBM, DEC and Sun, using UNIX software, the number of hosts and servers/nodes increased tremendously, putting further demands on the new network. By 1984 the number of hosts now reaches 1000 machines and reaches 10,000 by 1989.

By the year 1990 – ARPAnet ceases to exist as a discrete network and dissolves into an assigned range of IP numbers, which is nearly as close to a separate network as exists currently. By this time fairly serious ‘hackers’ are beginning in earnest to make inroads to compromising machine security.

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TCP/IP Messaging Protocols Tutorial

A animated overview of TCP and Internet Protocol function. Recommended.

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The Invention of the World Wide Web

How did the great invention of the 20th Century come about and who is Tim Buerners-Lee, the English scientist who passed his great invention on to humanity?

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The history of ARPA leading up to the ARPANET

Birth of the Internet: The Arpanet – General Overview

The Computer History Museum’s Guide to the History of the Internet

An Atlas of Cyberspaces: Historical Maps of Computer Networks

‘How ARPANET Works’ from ‘How Stuff Works

Hobbes’ Internet Timeline

Wikipedia’s article "Outline of the Internet"


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