History of the Internet
Although the history of the Internet arguably begins in the 19th century with the invention of the telegraph system, the modern history of the Internet starts in the 1950s and 1960s with the development of computers. This began with point-to-point communication between mainframe computers and terminals, expanded to point-to-point connections between computers and then early research into packet switching. Packet switched networks such as ARPANET, Mark I at NPL in the UK, CYCLADES, Merit Network, Tymnet, and Telenet, were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s using a variety of protocols. The ARPANET in particular lead to the development of protocols for internetworking, where multiple separate networks could be joined together into a network of networks.
In 1982 the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced. Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when the National Science Foundation (NSF) developed the Computer Science Network (CSNET) and again in 1986 when NSFNET provided access to supercomputer sites in the United States from research and education organizations. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. Commercial internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and 1990s and the Internet was commercialized in 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic.
Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a drastic impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by electronic mail, text based discussion forums, and the World Wide Web. The research and education community continues to use advanced networks such as NSF’s very high speed Backbone Network Service (vBNS) and Internet2. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1-Gbps, 10-Gbps, or more. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, by commerce and entertainment, and by social networking.