The idea of a network of computers was the brainchild of American professor Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider. In the early 1960s, he had a vision of a computer network that would link the world.
Building on Licklider’s idea was a communications network called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). The United States Department of Defense funded the development of the network.
The American military wanted to use it to send important information to different locations, to be stored there in case there was another world war.
On October 29, 1969, Charley Kline, an American computer programmer and student working on ARPANET, tried to connect his computer to another computer using the system.
Both computers immediately crashed! But an hour later, the computers were working again, and Kline sent the first message over the network.
The Internet — short for “internetwork” — grew out of ARPANET. The Internet evolved into a worldwide data communications system that transmits data by breaking it down into small chunks, called packets. Using a technology known as packet switching, many people could use the same linked network.
Scientists kept working to improve the Internet and gradually made it more accessible to users. Today, it’s a network of networks, wired and wireless, linking more than a quarter of the Earth’s population.
The development of the World Wide Web allowed pictures and sound to be shown, heard and exchanged over the Internet. Suddenly the Internet wasn’t just for computer geeks, it was for everyone.
The Internet has changed the way people shop, bank, share information and entertain themselves (games, music, movies) and even how they express themselves (blogs).