History of IP networks: the forefathers of internet.

Generations after the year 2000 take the internet for granted. Its benefits, its accessibility and easy to use programs, for them, are things that will have always been there for everybody. Do you remember life before 1990? Do you remember when you actually had to go to the library to do your research paper? Well, for kids nowadays, we can tell you it has not always been that way.

How was the internet born? Was it born as “the internet”? Or where does it come from? The answer to these questions lies within the history of IP networks or the TCP protocol. Most of us don’t even know or remember about these early steps to the internet and how they happened.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of IP networks, how they came to be, where they started and who were the ones responsible for bringing to life this amazing tool that has helped us develop into more advanced human beings.

First, the ones responsible for this invention were the following two guys: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn also known in the technology and digital world as the fathers of the Internet. Vinton Gray “Vint” Cerf was born on June 23, 1943 in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied a B.S. in Math and Computer Science at Stanford University in 1965 and went to IBM to work in the QUIKTRAN project. In this project, they developed a system to make time-shared computing more economical and widely available for scientists, engineers and businessmen.

In 1967 he left IBM to attend graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned his master’s and PhD degree in Computer Science. During his graduate student years, he worked for Leonard Kleinrock’s data packet networking group that connected the first two nodes of the ARPANet, the forefather of the Internet. He worked as a Principal Programmer having a say in many projects like the ARPANET Network Measurement Center. He first met Bob Kahn while he was studying at UCLA. At that time Kahn was working on the ARPANet hardware architecture in Bolt Beranek and Newman.

On the other hand, Robert Elliot Kahn was born in December 23, 1938 and received a B.E.E. degree from the City College of New York in 1960, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University.  After he went out of school, he started working in the Technical Staff at Bell Labs and then became an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT. While he was working there, he decided to join Bolt Beranek and Newman, where he was responsible for the system design of the Arpanet, the first packet-switched network.

In 1972, Kahn went to work with Larry Roberts at the IPTO. He was appointed to the networking technologies area and in October that same year he gave the first ever demonstration of an ARPANET network connecting 40 different computers at the International Computer Communication Conference. At that same moment, people around the world knew that packet switching was something very possible.

At the IPTO, Kahn worked on many projects. But one of those projects involved establishing a satellite packet network and researching a ground-based radio packet network. Here he found out that there was a need for an open-architecture network model, where any network could communicate with any other independent or individual hardware and software configuration in anyplace in the world. Of course, he was visionary but kept his feet on the ground.  Kahn therefore set four goals for the design of what would become the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): Network connectivity, because any network could connect to another network; open distribution where no central network is required; Error recovery; and black box design which means that no internal changes would have to be made to a network to connect it to other networks.

In the spring of 1973, Vinton Cerf joined Kahn on the project. They started researching data communications across packet radio networks using all the lessons they had learned from the Networking Control Protocol and came up with something called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the standard protocol used on the Internet today. TCP first stood for Transmission Control Program and the first version of this predecessor of modern TCP was written in 1973, then revised and formally documented in the Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program from December 1974.

Internet_history of ip networks_don burns_
Image courtesy of Beshef at Flickr.com

The product of their research was the Internet Protocol Suite commonly known as TCP or IP. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) managed the projects and they then contracted with BBN Technologies, Stanford University, and the University College London to develop operational versions of the protocol on different hardware platforms. They developed the TCP v1, TCP v2, a split into TCP v3 and IP v3 and the TCP/IP v4 versions. The last one still being the standard protocol in use on the Internet today.

Read about VOIP solutions for your company in this article.


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