The History of the Internet (Part 1)


Video Script

In this module, we’re going to talk about the history of the Internet. The history of the internet is a very interesting topic in computer science. But I think it’s one that we don’t think about very often today, we just take the internet for granted and just know that it’s always there. So let’s take a look at where the internet came from. The internet was really built to solve a unique problem.

Networking is complicated. And in the early days of computer networking, the only way two computers could talk to each other was via a direct connection between those systems, much like the phone systems of the olden days. And so we’ve already seen some network connected computers such as the NLS system that Douglas Engelbart talked about, for example. But networking was really complicated. And so because of this, we had to have direct connections. And it was very slow and very tedious to have really powerful computer networks. We ran into problems that were very similar to the tyranny of numbers problem that we talked about in an earlier Module. So the internet was really created to solve that particular problem.

One of the visionaries of the creation of the internet was J.C.R. Licklider. Licklider was a computer scientist at the defense, the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. And he was interested in how we could build computer systems to aid the work of his agency. And so his work was really around some of the earliest networked computers such as ones at MIT in Santa Monica. But the real frustration he had was each one of those computer systems required a different terminal and different commands to interact with it. And J.C.R. Licklider really dreamed of having just one computer terminal on his desk, and one set of commands that he had to memorize. And from that terminal, he could access any computer system nationwide to get the information that he needed. And so he really famously talked about this and came up with some really interesting ideas. Let’s take a look at a video of J.C.R. Licklider talking about his ideas For what became the internet.