A mar­riage of con­ve­nience

Geraldton Guardian - - News - Greg Hornsby

Once upon a time there were com­put­ers. They were big com­put­ers owned by gov­ern­ments, uni­ver­si­ties and big busi­ness. They were used for lofty mat­ters like sci­ence, war and beat­ing other coun­tries to the moon.

There was also some­thing called com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions was things like mail, talk­ing, fixed tele­phones, tele­vi­sion, tele­grams, news­pa­pers and books.

Then in 1962 a sci­en­tist by the name of J.C.R. Lick­lider had a dream of com­put­ers and com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­ing to­gether so that peo­ple all over the world could ac­cess pro­grams and data through a global net­work of com­put­ers. This idea was the pro­posal that be­came the in­ter­net.

Lick­lider worked for an or­gan­i­sa­tion called ARPA (Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­grams Agency). ARPA was a branch of the US De­fence Depart­ment, con­cerned with mak­ing sure that Amer­ica stayed ahead in the tech­nol­ogy race. In 1969 com­put­ers at four uni­ver­si­ties were con­nected to­gether us­ing ex­ist­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­works to form the ARPA-net.

As the years passed the ARPA-net grew big­ger. By 1971 there were 14 nodes on the net­work. Other net­works were de­vel­oped by other groups such as CSnet, Usenet, Te­lenet and Bit­net. In the 60s, 70s and 80s many of the pro­to­cols and stan­dards that make net­work­ing pos­si­ble were be­ing de­vel­oped. Com­put­ers were also be­com­ing smaller and more pow­er­ful.

In the early 1980s per­sonal com­put­ers be­gan to appear in homes.

Modems (de­vices that al­low dig­i­tal data from com­put­ers to travel along ana­logue tele­phone lines) also ap­peared and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als be­gan di­alling up their friends’ com­put­ers and com­mu­ni­cat­ing through Bul­letin Board soft­ware.

In 1989 a sci­en­tist work­ing for CERN by the name of Tim Bern­ers Lee mod­i­fied an ex­ist­ing publishing tool called mark-up lan­guage, com­bin­ing it with some­thing called hy­per­text.

He wrote the first browser (World Wide Web) that could in­ter­pret his new lan­guage which he called HTML (Hy­per Text Mark-up Lan­guage).

HTML and World Wide Web en­abled the shar­ing of in­for­ma­tion and pages by just click­ing on a link, some­thing which to­day we take for granted.

From there the in­ter­net grew at a tremen­dous rate. In 1993 there were 130 web­sites in the whole world. In 2016 that num­ber is es­ti­mated by internetli­vestats.com to be more than 1 bil­lion.

In 2016, 3.4 bil­lion peo­ple around the world have ac­cess to the In­ter­net. If you com­pare that num­ber to the world’s pop­u­la­tion of 7.3 bil­lion you can see that there are still sig­nif­i­cant parts of the world left out.

It is not ex­actly the world-wide web just yet. But the child of the mar­riage be­tween com­put­ers and com­mu­ni­ca­tions is still grow­ing rapidly, so who knows what the fu­ture holds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.