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How the internet was born…

How the internet was born…

With everything moving so fast today and full speed ahead into the future, it’s always worth taking a look at how the internet came to be and how it has evolved.

Can you imagine life without internet? Most of us go crazy when mobile data slows down, let alone if there’s no internet connection for an extended period of time. Internet is definitely one of the resources that we depend on most and the more time passes, the more we depend on it. Nowadays, all generations have come to understand and realise the benefits of having an internet connection.

With the introduction of computers in the 1950’s, there was naturally the eventual question of how computers would talk to each other. In the 1960’s, several government funded researchers, started to work on projects which included the most famous ARPANET network, developed by DARPS (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). In 1969, the first two computers were connected to ARAPANET that were able to communicate with each other. By the end of the year, a total of four computers were added to this network. Essentially, this is the basis of what grew into what we know today as the internet.

ARPANET continued to grow during this time – users connected to the network started to work on developing applications that could be used over the network. In 1972, the idea of electronic mail was introduced, to improve communication between the developers. In 1974, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) was introduced. TCP/IP is known as a protocol that contains the basic rules on how messages are transmitted between computers connected on the network. In the 1980’s, IP address schemes where introduced; these schemes made it easier to assign IP addresses. Each internet connection must have a unique ID known as an IP address which is assigned by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). The word internet started to take over from ARAPANET around 1982.

In 1985 DNS (Domain Name System) was introduced. DNS allowed for hosts (any device connected to a network) to be given names. DNS then converted these host names to the IP address, which is what computers use to be able to find other computers on any network. This allows us to browse the internet using names that we can easily remember instead of having to try to remember the actual site IP address. By this time the internet was well defined and its use grew rapidly as it had been expanded to non-military use, though limited to research and education. In the 1990’s the internet was then opened for independent commercial use.

1989 brought with it the introduction of the World Wide Web (WWW) which was intended for information sharing. The first web browser was written in 1990 and released for the public in 1991. It is interesting to note that the first web page ever developed was located at containing info about the WWW project – and it is still accessible today! The mid 1990’s saw a sharp increase in internet popularity with companies like Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay starting to operate.

Online shopping gaining further popularity following the introduction of secure web browsing in the mid 90’s, but the idea of online shopping actually goes back to 1979. An English entrepreneur named Michael Aldrich engineered a system which consisted of a modified domestic TV set, connected to a central computer, via a domestic telephone line. These systems mainly performed Business-to-Business operations and were mostly installed in the UK by large corporations.

All the above milestones have gone a long way to defining the internet as we know it today. In fact TCP/IP, Ip addresses, DNS and WWW are terms that are still very much in use. However, we definitely have to thank all those pioneering researchers that were involved initially and enabled the internet to be born.

Writing letters, daydreaming, meeting only in person, having no FOMO and not feeling the need to tell the rest of the world what you had for breakfast… are concepts that people born post-1985 will have a hard time relating to. The internet has definitely changed the way humanity communicates, works and even thinks and there is no doubt it will be integral to setting new trends and speeding up development of ideas e.g with the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT). While one must always keep an open mind as new technologies keep flourishing one must also remember what peace there may be in silence.


Ryan Mintoff works at Deloitte Malta in Information Technology and Security. For more information, please visit