On September 2, 1969, two computers at the University of California, Los Angeles, exchanged some data. The exchange was part of the first test of Arpanet, an experimental network for the U.S. Department of Defense.
And that exchange of the meaningless data was the beginning of a revolution called Internet that changed the way the world communicated breaking the geographical boundaries.
A few weeks later, on October 29, a connection was established between two sites - the UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California.
The next year, that is 1970, Arpanet got the first East Coast node, at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Cambridge. By then, UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah had also joined the network.
According to a timeline compiled by the Associated Press, listing the key milestones, it was in 1972 that Ray Tomlinson brought e-mail to the network, introducing the "@" symbol to specify addresses from other systems.
Then, in 1973, two international nodes were established in England and Norway. In 1983, a domain name system was proposed, offering '.com' and '.gov', with '.edu' following years later.
In 1989 Quantum Computer Services, now renamed AOL, introduced America Online service for Macintosh and Apple II computers, beginning an expansion that would connect nearly 27 million Americans online by 2002.
But the real explosion in the world of Internet happened in the 1990s, when a British physicist named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the idea for the Web, a way of using the Internet that would allow people to more easily connect and exchange resources across broad expanses.
And from there began the real revolution that changed the way we communicated. Then in 1993, Marc Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois created Mosaic, the first Web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page.
In 1994 they formed a company to develop the first commercial Web browser, Netscape. It was this browser that prompted many developers to think of the actual commercial potential of the Web. Then we saw the 'dotcom' boom and the bursting of the bubble.
Then it was a downpour of new concepts. E-mail, online portals, e-papers, social networking sites, blogs, microblogging... you name it. And today Internet is a household word even for the illiterate.
However, despite all the communication revolution, there are fears that the future of Internet's development is not that secure. The fear is mainly due to the openness that has catalyzed innovation and driven its explosive evolution.
"There is more freedom for the typical Internet user to play, to communicate, to shop - more opportunities than ever before," an AP report quoted Jonathan Zittrain, law professor and co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, as saying.
As net became popular, it became a platform for all sort of activities – political campaign, social networking, rebellion, dictatorship, financial frauds, sex trafficking, porn... Then, exploiting the potential many a virus crept into the cyber space thus threatening the security of online data.
It was in 1988 that the Internet worm, Morris, crippled thousands of computers. Today we have more bugs than than Web domains. There were even arguments that the Web as a medium will kill the print medium very soon. But what is in stock for the net and the print, nobody knows.
But one thing is sure whatever we have seen so far is not the last word in this space. Ten years from now, as we celebrate the golden jubilee of the Net, it might have become a totally different concept altogether, translating many of our fantasies into reality!
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