The Internet today provides a platform for worldwide broadcasting and communication. It allows for remarkable collaboration between individuals living at opposite ends of the World within seconds. Surprisingly, while we are accustomed to browsing online and communicating with people worldwide like it’s our second nature, the web has only been this widely accessible since 1993 through a web browser called Mosaic! One wonders how the Internet has evolved and turned out to be this efficient. And who was the pioneer of the Internet?
For a technology as progressive as the Internet, it isn’t easy to accurately pin the credit of the invention on one person or even a team. Many scientists and engineers have contributed to the development of the Internet over different periods. The actual Internet, or the brain behind this information superhighway, is a set of rules that run it known as the TCP/IP protocols. These protocols were developed by Vincent Cerf and Bob Kahn in the 1970s, who are sometimes referred to as the pioneers of the Internet. Additionally, Tim Berners Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, is another notable figure in the history of the Internet.
The first computer networks designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s were special-purpose systems such as SABRE – an airline reservation system – and AUTODIN – a defense command-and-control system. ARPANET, a project by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defence, was the first to initiate developments in host-to-host network interactions, i.e., interactions between different networks. The scientists’ primary concern was optimizing communication methods; for this reason, ARPANET invested in and employed the new packet switching technology. Essentially, packet switching is the process of grouping the data as packets which are then individually routed from the source to the destination. Packet switching effectively improved the communication process and also made it cost-effective. This followed the development of protocols like OSI and TCP/IP, out of which the latter runs in most of our systems even today.
Soon after, File Transfer Protocol was published by Abhay Bhushan. The first modern email client was developed by John Vital in 1975. In the same period, mailing lists, newsgroups, MUD (an earlier form of multiplayer games), USENET (Internet-based discussion system), and bulletin-board methods were also developed.
In 1981, Jon Postel introduced Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, the most common standard for mail servers to send and receive messages. In 1983, ARPANET computers switched to TCP/IP, and the term ‘Internet’ was adopted in 1982-83.
Tim Berners-Lee’s team at CERN implemented a system in which every information source (known as a web page today) would be given a unique URL address. The purpose of the URL was to link different documents on the Internet.
In 1987, National Science Museum Foundation established NSFNET, a distributed network of networks capable of handling traffic much larger than ARPANET.
In 1988, the Internet Relay Chat protocol was developed, paving the way for future instant information sharing methods.
NSFNET completely replaced ARPANET in 1990. In the same year, The World was introduced as the first commercial Internet service provider for public access.
In 1991, World Wide Web was released, and in 1993, Mosaic, the first graphical browser, became available to the public.
By 1997 weblogs and social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube emerged.
Now, the Internet’s popularity has quadrupled, as recent research shows that Internet users are predicted to grow to 5.3 billion by 2023.
Any economic activity progresses with networking, and what’s a more robust networking platform than the Internet? Take a look at the ten impacts of the Internet:
The Internet’s instant information sharing potentiality has proved to be very handy in both official and unofficial settings. If anything, the Internet bridges the gap between people without any frontier constraints. With different social media applications, we can now create memories with our pen friends, share our live moments, plan surprises, send gifts online, and more.
There are countless benefits of the Internet in the field of education. Internet sources numerous free and paid degree and non-degree courses on all subjects. The Internet helps enrich teacher-to-student interaction even after school hours through chat forums and other crucial live meet tools like MS teams, Zoom, etc. Moreover, teachers worldwide use free and paid platforms like Google Forms and Hackerrank for creating self-grading practice sheets or quizzes.
Another significant impact of the Internet is that it has made connecting with experts, customers, and clients much more accessible. Previously, researchers had to go from library to library, traveling worldwide to get their hands on a specific book or journal. However, today, online resources like Library Genesis and Jstor have made available to us almost all the ‘information’ that we need as researchers.
There has been a rise in e-commerce businesses in the past few years, with online sales amounting to 4.9 trillion US dollars worldwide (Ecommerce Guide). Compared with retail, online sales are predicted to grow by 50% in the next few years (Statista). The reason behind its widespread popularity is that e-commerce can exponentially expand your business because of access to a larger target audience base from all across the globe. Another reason behind e-commerce popularity is that it is relatively cost-effective for sellers as they do not have to pay rent or a third party to sell and manage products.
The banking industry has seen subsequent evolution since enterprise applications and Internet networking were introduced. Banks offer their services majorly through their Internet ‘branches’ or applications which can be accessed anywhere in the World at any time. It has reduced banks’ operational costs through online platforms while optimizing user experience.
As early as 2014, the research found that 81% of buyers conduct online research before purchasing any product or service. If a company doesn’t have an online presence or a trending profile, it’s challenging to generate potential profits. Therefore, today, traditional marketing methods are being overpowered by digital marketing methods (Digi Perform).
Sometimes choosing the best hotels and accommodations can be tedious. Still, with the help of the Internet, we can quickly check and compare reviews and visit the company’s websites to obtain all the required information and make the best decision for ourselves. Moreover, apps like Google Maps have made navigating to new places more accessible and secure.
Over the years, the healthcare industry has transformed significantly due to Internet service availability. Booking appointments from home, online counseling services, desktop and mobile applications for monitoring fitness, diet, and nutrition, and quick and easy access to health forums have become today’s new norm. According to a Pew Research Center project, 62 % of Internet users seek health information online.
The Internet has yielded new and advanced communication tools which have positively impacted how companies collaborate with their employees, vendors, and clients. Moreover, businesses no longer have to rely on a local customer base but have a worldwide target audience. This allows the companies to grow exponentially as they expand their networking franchise.
Virtual reality is a three-dimensional computer-generated illusionary environment that a person can interact with. Recent research shows that Virtual Reality is the next big thing in the future (Seattle Central). This technology is being heavily employed in the training industries. For instance, medical schools and defense organizations use VR technology for practicing surgeries and combat preps, respectively.
Undoubtedly, the Internet has so much to offer us even now. Data scientists and software engineers are making efforts to make using the Internet as personalized and resourceful as possible. As we acknowledge the benefits of the Internet, it is also imperative to know its risks. Some of the most common dangers of the Internet are:
One of the most popular parental concerns with the Internet is children being exposed to age-inappropriate content and negative social media interactions.
Nevertheless, there are some practical ways to counter these risks, like using antivirus software on the devices, avoiding suspicious websites, especially ones flagged by popular search engines, keeping all software applications updated, and enabling age-restricted access options before handing the devices to children.
Although the Internet is very young, its connectivity has long-lasting impacts. The Internet has proved advantageous for us in many ways. From sending messages all around the World in a few seconds to having a plethora of knowledge resources available on touch, it is pretty clear that we have significantly advanced as global societies due to the Internet. With this being said, we must also be cognizant of the privacy breach risks and fraudulent activities associated with it. Fortunately, the field of Cyber Security is advancing rapidly, and extensive research is being carried out in this domain to make Internet services more secure and better optimized.
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