Today, September 2, is the Internet's 40th birthday! On this day, 40 years ago, in a test lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, two computers passed test data through a 15-foot gray cable - it was then called the ARPANET. One month later Stanford Research Institute had also joined. By the end of the year, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah had joined, thus creating the "internet".
The Web, as we know it, was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, when he invented the "World Wide Web" or "WWW". The first Web browser to become popular was called ViolaWWW, but was soon replaced by Mosaic in 1993, when the University of Illinois released version 1.0, which became wildly popular. Components of Mosaic still exist in Internet Explorer today.
Up until 1994, the Web had been viewed as a mainly technical and academic area, but public interest began to grow, and the term "the Internet" was finally coined in 1996. Over the course of the decade, the Internet integrated many of the previously existing public networks, and it was estimated that it was growing by 100% every year in size. Supposedly, the growth has been attributed to the fact that there has been no central administration on the Internet and that protocols are non-proprietary in nature. Advanced Micro Devices estimated the population of Internet users to be 1.5 billion as of January 2009.
The main component of the Internet as we know it today is the Internet Protocol (IP) which provides addresses (IP addresses) for connected computers. IPv4 was the first version used on today's Internet and is still widely used. It was only designed to accommodate up to around 4.3 billion hosts, but because of the huge, rapid growth of the Internet (especially due to mobile devices such as mobile phones), the IPv4 addresses will be exhausted sometime in 2011.
Thanks to the Internet, we can now talk to our friends dynamically through services such as Twitter and Facebook and stay in touch much more easily, as well as making information more accessible to learn and consume for free. The National Geographic has a fantastic short history of the Internet in a 5 minute video which can be found here, to celebrate its 40th birthday.
So, happy 40th birthday to the Internet! Thanks for the last 40 years, and we look forward to many more exciting years to come!
Image credits: Wikipedia