Internet Evolution

Part 1 – From ARPANET to Internet

Visualize an enormous, dimly lit master control room for the Internet. The scene looks like mission control at NASA, but on a much larger scale. Dozens of people monitor traffic on the global network on small personal LCD displays set into consoles and on large screens that fill one wall of the room. The largest screen displays traffic between continents and key routers in the global network. Smaller screens along the side display images of Internet traffic by continent with varying-width bands of color denoting the primary fiber backbone connections between key nodes on those networks. The image is one that J. C. R. Licklider could have visualized as a key aspect of computer-based command-and-control systems that would allow many people to see what is happening in a large network at once.1 The problem with this vision of a master control room is that it does not exist. While there are telecommunication network control rooms operated by individual companies and governments around the world, there is no master control room for the Internet. How can a network as large as the Internet function without some entity managing it? The answer is at the heart of the concept of the Internet and is a key element of its phenomenal growth since 1969. Nicholas Negroponte, in his book Being Digital, posed an interesting analogy:2

Figure 5.1 ...

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