How the internet works?
The Internet plays a significant part in our daily lives, allowing us to connect with others, find information and make money while being virtually anywhere in the world. So how exactly does the internet work? To fully comprehend how the Internet works and how we got here, we'll need to start from the beginning.
A Brief History of the Internet
The Internet was created in 1958 by an American scientist named Leonard Kleinrock. It was referred to as a global network and was used for military purposes until 1969.
The first connection between two computer networks occurred in 1969, but it wasn't until 1983 that they were connected.
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee developed HTTP, allowing information on different computers to be exchanged easily.
In 1946, engineer Vannevar Bush wrote an essay for The Atlantic titled As We May Think. In it, he envisioned a machine that would allow people to access and store vast amounts of information through what he called a memex.
That same year, American computer scientist and mathematician John von Neumann developed EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer).
It was one of the first modern computers with binary architecture instead of electro-mechanical relay logic. And while those two men may not have realized it at the time, they were both trying to solve a similar problem: how can we quickly organize and retrieve data? Both seemed up to the task.
Forty years later, their concepts came together in 1969 when Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed what is commonly referred to as TCP/IP protocol. The primary communication language used on today's Internet and other protocols such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) allowed files to be transferred across networks quickly and effectively.
Since then, advancements in technology like search engines from Google, online file-sharing programs from Dropbox, social media platforms from Facebook or Twitter. The list goes on.
Today, nearly 3 billion users worldwide use over 4 million servers run by 6500+ companies. Despite its great size and reach, the network still works much in the way it always has. Once you enter your domain name into your browser, requests travel outward along various routes before finally being delivered to a server where the content associated with that site is retrieved.
Then information travels back along different routes before reaching your screen; if everything works smoothly, you're now looking at whatever content you requested.
But if something gets broken during any point of its journey, either due to an error in communication or damage to physical infrastructure—countless others are working tirelessly behind the scenes, constantly patching holes and making sure everything runs smoothly.
Who used the Internet in this stage?
Many people used the Internet in the earlier stage, but only a few are famous. Notable pioneers include Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, who co-wrote an influential paper in 1974 titled A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication. The article described what would become known as TCP/IP, a cornerstone of today's Internet. This work was supported by DARPA, which also played a key role in the further development of ARPANET.
How does the internetwork?
The Internet is a grid of networks that allows you to connect with people and other information worldwide. It uses a protocol called TCP/IP, which stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.
This protocol lets computers on different networks communicate with each other and send information in small packets so that their destination can reassemble it without any loss of data. These packets are organized into datagrams before transmitting them to your local service provider or ISP (internet service provider).
All ISP's relay these datagrams along routes called routes until they reach your computer. When your computer receives them, it assembles them back into their original order using the IP addresses of both source and destination devices.
How do we get these IP addresses? From domain name servers or DNS. Every gadget attached to the Internet has its IP address, which works like a home address. DNS translates these names into IP addresses, so you don't have to remember them every time you visit a website.
Your browser then retrieves content from those websites based on instructions programmed into HTML documents that define what text, images, and video files appear when users type in particular URLs. The underlying technology behind these processes is collectively known as TCP/IP.
The future of the Internet
In 2014, an estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide were connected to the Internet. That's 40 per cent of all humans—and more than ever before! In developed countries like France, UK and US, at least 90 per cent of households are online.
It's challenging to assume back to a time before Google Maps or Facebook; it's even harder to expect what life will be like in 2050. But if you're curious how far we've come and how much further we can go, check out our infographic depicting how the Internet works.
As you do, ask yourself: How has our relationship with technology changed? Will living without access to it one day become unimaginable? What innovations might change your life in 30 years? We want to hear from you.