The internet turns 30 this week

Thirty years ago this week, computer scientists started to link computers through a standardised transmission control protocol, giving birth to the internet

 

In the beginning, the internet was a way to link only a handful of academic computers together. There was no world wide web, email or Facebook. But in January 1983 - thirty years ago this week - computer scientists agreed on a standardised protocol for linking computers together.

Fast-foward to 2013 and the internet is a £1 trillion industry (used by 2.4 billion people) that has completely revolutionised the way we communicate with each other. There are more devices connected to the internet than there are people on Earth and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

Vint Cerf, a computer scientist at Stanford University was originally recruited in the early 1970s by the American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to help unify the different networks that linked early computers. Cerf and his colleagues developed the transmission control protocol - commonly referred to as TCP/IP - to structure a network. When DARPA migrated all its systems over to the new protocol and mandated it as the approved method of networking, the internet was born.

The rest, as they say, is history. In the late 80s, CERN began using TCP/IP to connect its internal computer systems together and British engineer Tim Berners-Lee began to develop the first web pages. His aim was to create a fluid map of pages connected together through hyperlinks and free for all to view. From there, the internet exploded through the 90s as Google developed the famous PageRank algorithm that made searching through pages more efficient than the likes of AltaVista and Lycos. Other features of the internet developed alongside the Web, such as email, VoIP, P2P and mobile connectivity - changing every aspect of our society. 

Internet usage continues to grow as developing countries improve their access and infrastructure, while established countries experiment with ever faster connection speeds. By 2020, the internet is predicted to be a £2.5 trillion industry.

Familiar issues such as privacy concerns, extremist views and security matters will no doubt continue to affect the development of the internet. But at this point, we're content to say happy birthday and see what's in store for the next thirty years. 

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