The history of the Internet

Campbell-Kelly and Garcia-Swartz (2013) define the Internet as a scheme of communication between different computer networks that allow data to be shared from one location to another. Communication via the Internet is made possible through a method known as packet switching, which is the splitting of information into small parts at the source and then reconstructs it at the destination, allowing computer networks to route the data across networks quickly and reliably (Cardona Restrepo & Stanojevic, 2012).

The Internet was formed in 1969 after the invention of ARPANET, which ran on packet switching technology (Campbell-Kelly & Garcia-Swartz, 2013). The first computer connection that was facilitated by the Internet occurred at UCLA on 12th Oct 1969. The information gained from the connection is what gave birth to the current four-way connection. The first challenge experienced by developers was sending of information. For instance, the first message to be sent was “login,” but the word did not display at the destination in full as the link between the two institutions crashed on letter “g.” The issue was later corrected, and information could be received in full.

The 1970s saw the introduction of a four-way connection, which was the first efficient internet connection. Later, scientists in different parts of the world developed their independent Internet (Cardona Restrepo & Stanojevic, 2012). However, communication between different networks was not possible as different connections used their own language in sending and receiving data. In 1982, Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn’s research team worked together to develop Internet Protocol (IP) and the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) (Cardona Restrepo & Stanojevic, 2012). IP/TCP became the language of the Internet, which allows computers to detect and receive information that was transmitted to its destination.

Over the years, scientists worked round the clock to simplify communication through the Internet. As such, Ray Tomlinson invented the e-mail in 1971 as a means of communication through ARPANET (Campbell-Kelly & Garcia-Swartz, 2013). Nevertheless, it was until the early 1990s that the e-mail became popular among ordinary people further popularizing the Internet. Also, in 1991, World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee as a means of sharing information between CERN scientists.

Initially, the Internet was predominantly used by governments. Commercial access to the Internet started to be sold to ordinary people from 1995 (Campbell-Kelly & Garcia-Swartz, 2013). However, users still experienced challenges in internet speed. For instance, the first commercial Internet was dial-up Internet, which had a maximum speed of 56kbs. Also, the modems had a maximum speed of 28.6kbs and were costly for ordinary people. Later, early 2000s saw the development of broadband and wi-fi, fibre optic internet and the current fast Internet, which has a speed of over 300Mbps. 


Campbell-Kelly, M., & Garcia-Swartz, D. D. (2013). The history of the Internet: the missing narratives. Journal of Information Technology28(1), 18-33. Cardona Restrepo, J. C., & Stanojevic, R. (2012). A history of an internet exchange point. ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review42(2), 58-64.