History of the Internet
The Internet has come a long way since its inception, a text about online services first published in 1994
The Internet has gained in prominence since its beginning. How did the first users view the Internet.
A Beginner’s Guide to the Net
Progress of the Internet through time. The Internet as seen by experts of times past. A text from 1994:
If Columbus were alive today, he would be exploring this new world.
Think of it as a vast new kingdom. You get there through your computer and your modem. But once you’ve arrived, an enormous landscape is spread out before you. When you go, what roads you take, what winding paths you follow, and when you return is all up to you. Here is a background briefing about how to get started on a great adventure in cyberspace:
What is the Internet? The Internet is a mass of computer networks that are lined globally. It was originally started by university professors and the military in the early 1970s ago to share information and talk with each other over their computers, instead of by mail or phone. Today, more than20 million people from all kinds of backgrounds are using it. There are still a large number of academic forums, but there are also tons of non-academic topics. There is a list for people who want to talk about the TV show “The Simpsons”, for example. There are also more resources – the Library of Congress in on the Internet, as are most university libraries in the United States, and many abroad. You can exchange information with people from around the world, from Hollywood to Hong Kong.
Who runs the Internet: No one. There is no Internet Corp, per se. Instead, is a massive, community-maintained system created by the people who participate in it.
This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s no place or no one you can go to and file a complaint if you’re having a hard time, if you feel the information is disorganized, or if someone is acting up – there simply are no rules in the Internet. On the other hand, this means you can say anything you want, you have access to a tremendous amount of information and you can, if you choose, provide information of your own.
This is not to say that there isn’t a mode of decorum or etiquette on the Net, as it’s called, there is. But it’s something that you learn by experimenting and having conversations with people in different “areas”, just as you would do in real world. Think of the Internet as a huge city encompassing many neighborhoods and cultures, while there is a way that one behaves in a big city in general, one also modifies one’s manner and manners to suit individual neighborhoods.
How does one connect to the Internet: There are a number of ways. First, obviously, you need a modem and a free phone line to plug into it. Then you need to connect to a network that is connected to the Internet. These are called access or service providers. Many universities and more and more companies, have direct connections to one of these access providers already. If you’re a student of an employee at a fair-sized company, just call up the internal computer services department and get them to give you an internet account.
If you are a single user. You can get an account with a dial-up provider – there are hundreds of these around the country. They usually charge you a flat rate of about $25 per month, with unlimited online time. They will give you an account, which lets your modem dial-up their computer, which is already connected to the Internet.
The third way – and practically the best way for beginners – is to access the Internet through a gateway on one of the big on-line services like America Online, CompuServe, Genie, Prodigy, or Delphi. Basically, all you do is call up one of these companies’ toll-free numbers and ask it to send its software. Most of them have a free trial period, which gives you time to explore what the service has to offer, as well as time to investigate the Internet.
What is the difference between the Internet and an online service? Remember, the Internet is owned by no one. Online services are major corporations. They might use the same kind of technology as the Internet to link people’s computers together, but they are self-contained entities.
Think of online services as private clubs or associations. You’ve got to pay dues and fees, and in return, you get to use their facilities, socialize with members, and take advantage of their services. These services might include special groups for children, access to the Dow Jones news wire, a forum hosted by Rush Limbaugh, or access to the Internet. Some services have more limited Net access than others. For example, there are a number of pornographic groups on the Net; some services may filter these out, so their members can’t access them. Generally, the big online services try to give access to those Internet groups they think their members will be interested in.
How is the information on the Internet organized? Well, it is and it isn’t. The Internet is sort of an information anarchy. But there are some organizing principles. Electronic mail is the chief way of communicating on the Internet. Everyone has a different address, just like a house or an apartment, that describes who and where you are. If you want to regularly receive and e=mail messages on a particular topic, you sign up for mailing lists, which are the addresses of people who have similar interests – anything from neurobiology to “Beavis and Butt-head.” Then, there are the UseNet News groups, which are like bulletin board services, and there are about 4,500 of them. News and communications on everything from business in Japan to feminist social groups are UseNet News groups.
Signing Up For the Infobahn
You can’t just ring up the Internet and hop on. You need an account to gain access to the information superhighway. Here are your options:
Permanent Connection: Your computer is connected directly to a network that is actually a part of the Internet, so you don’t even have to have your modem call a number to get connected. Since these accounts are designed to accommodate a lot of users, and they are very expensive (upward of $10,000 a year), usually only big companies and universities have this type of account.
Dial-in connection: Also called a SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) or PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol), dial-in connections are the next best thing to a permanent connection. Your modem dials up an Internet server directly.
Dial-up Connection: Your modem dials up the computer of a service provider that has a permanent connection. It’s kind of a twice-removed connection to the Internet – you-re connected to a computer that’s connected to a network that’s connected to the Internet.
Mail connection: This account is only for e-mail. If you are a member of CompuServe, America Online or any of the computer bulletin boards that are connected to the Internet, you already have such an account.
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History of the Internet. Illustration: Megan Jorgensen