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What is the internet and how does it work?

A simple breakdown for the layman to understand the fundamentals of internet technology.

To better understand internet technology, we need to go back in time to when it first started. As early as the 1960s, some research was bring done with packet switching, which eventually led to modern-day packets. A network packet is an encased combination of '1' and '0' signals, arranged in a standardized format which would indicate when the network packets start, the body of the packet will contain the information we intend to send and a combination which would show when the message has ended. Think of a packet like a packaging containing a message inside of it. All modern-day internet communication still rely on packets to transmit information between servers and computers. Not much has changed after all these years, at the foundational level.

The first real development of internet technology started with the help of the US military. ARPANET it was called and funded by the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) of the US Defence Department. This project was funded and tested between UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and SRI International. During this crucial period of research, the TCP/IP Protocol formulated by the likes of Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn. Vint Cerf holds the unofficial title of 'Father of the Internet', because of his essential work in the development of the TCP/IP protocol. We still rely on this relevant standard protocol today when our computers and servers communicate.


It was during the 1980s when more internet systems began to emerge; commercial scale internet service providers started at the end of the same decade. The TCP/IP Protocol began to adopt internationally, and in the 1990s, what started as a military project, ARPANET was finally decommissioned. While ARPANET was responsible for creating the technology, it was the research in CERN Switzerland that eventually led to the world wide web as we know it today. Tim Berners-Lee from CERN played a crucial role in developing HTTP protocols which allowed us to surf the internet via a web browser. These days, we have more or less moved to HTTPS, only an encrypted and secure version of the earlier HTTP protocol. Domain Name System, HTTP and TCP/IP are the primary protocols we use to communicate over the internet, and not much has changed since their invention.

From a layman's perspective, the internet may seem like a network of computers connected, and that is not a wrong way to describe it. However, without the standards and protocols created, it would be challenging to standardize how computers from across the world would communicate with one another. First introduced as a commercial solution in the 1990s, the percentage of communication on the internet was less than one per cent. Today, almost all communication rides on the internet infrastructure of our world. The internet is continuously growing and expanding, the connection of the internet went from telephone lines to cable lines, and now they mainly move through a fibre connection. Wireless communication protocols of 4G (fourth generation) will eventually move on to 5G (fifth generation). Elon Musk is busy launching satellites into orbit to form Starlink, a network of tens of thousands of satellites, designed to provide the entire world with wireless internet connectivity. Internet speed in countries like Singapore makes available 10 Gbps bandwidth to household residents. Internet technology has come a long way from a simple idea of packet switching in the early 1960s to blazing-fast communications sending substantial sized information such as videos over its infrastructure. As they say, the world is getting smaller, but the internet is getting faster and more extensive.



Thank you for reading 'What is the internet and how does it work?' by IT Block. IT Block is an IT support services provider based in Singapore and is a registered Google News source. #Internet #wiki #darpa #arpanet #IT #support #services #Singapore