A short History of the Internet
The Information superhighway (worldwide digital data networks) is an apt name for today’s computer communication systems for many reasons. One is historical. The superhighway’s primary component, the Internet, is an outgrowth of the Cold War.
In the 1950s President Dwight Eisenhower ordered a system of high-speed roads built. He based his vision on the German highway system which had allowed the Nazis to move their armies so effectively during World War 2. With the new superhighways in place, no matter where an enemy attacked the United States, the military could respond effectively and rapidly.
In 1962 the Air Force wanted another “highway,” one that would ...view middle of the document...
But Colossus, developed by the British to break the German’s secret codes during World War 2, was the first electronic computer. It reduced information to a binary code. The first “full-service” electronic computer, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), was introduced by scientists John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946. ENIAC hardly resembled the computers we know today: 18 feet tall, 80 feet long and weighing 60,000 pounds, it was composed of 17,500 vacuum tubes and 500 miles of electrical wire. At Remington they developed UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), which became the first successful commercial computer.
The commercial computer explosion was ignited by IBM. Using its already well-entrenched organizational system of trained sales and service professionals, IBM helped businesses find their way in the early days of the computer revolution. One of its innovations was to sell rather than rent computers to customers. As a result of IBM’s success, by 1960 the computer industry could be described as “IBM and the Seven Dwarfs”.
The Personal Computer
A crucial part of the story of the Internet is the development and diffusion of personal computers. IBM was fantastically successful at exciting businesses, schools and universities and other organizations about computer. But IBM’s and other companies’ mainframe and mini-computers employed terminals, and these stations at which users worked were connected to larger, centralized machines. As a result, the Internet at first was the province of the people who worked in those settings.
When the semiconductor replaced the vacuum tube as the essential information processor in computers, its tiny size, absence of heat, and low cost made possible the design and production of small, affordable personal or micro computers (PCs). This definitely opened the Net to anyone, anywhere. In a New York Times story entitled “Out Damned Geek! The Typical Web User Is No Longer Packing a Pocket Protector”.
The leaders of the personal computer revolution were Bill Gates and the duo of Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak. As a college freshman in 1975, Gates saw a magazine story about a small, low-powered computer, the MITS Altair 8800, that should be built from a kit and used to play simple games. Sensing that the future of computing was in these personal computers, and that the power of computers would reside not in their size but in the software that ran them, Gates dropped out of Harvard University and, with his friend Paul Allen, founded Microsoft Corporation. They licensed their operating system- the software that tells the computer how to work-to MITS With this advance, people no longer had to know sophisticated operating language like FORTRAN and COBOL to use computers. At nearly the same time, in 1977, Jobs and Wozniak, also college dropouts, perfected Apple 2, a low-cost, easy-to-use microcomputer...