The Internet evolved from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) communications network research in the 1960s. In the 1970s, I wrote articles on Tyment and Telenet, some of the first commercial enterprise networks preceding today’s Internet. The Internet was born when the Internet Protocol Suite – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol was standardized in the early 1980’s. Since then, it has evolved from a text-based university research network using VERONICA and ARCHIE Disk Operating System (DOS) based programs on a PC to the multi-media Internet we know today. Within the next decade, the Internet will carry all communications.
To be part of the Internet, a device must be physically connected. This connection can be a copper wire cable, optical fiber cable, wireless radio channel connection, cellular wireless connection, infrared, or any other medium that can carry some form of digital transmission (pulses of light or electricity). The device is a computer, tablet, cell phone, or other device running programs that use a hardware Interface to the Internet. Most likely, the most widely used interface on the planet is an Ethernet card found in virtually all computers. All Internet interface devices are assigned a number. This number is a 48-bit (or possibly today a 64-bit) binary number burned permanently into the machine. The number is called a Medium Access Control (MAC) address. One time, I bought a very cheap Ethernet card made somewhere in Asia that had a MAC address of 00-00-00-00-01-76. This was a counterfeit card not conforming to MAC address specifications.
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All internet communications use numbers. These numbers are Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and not MAC addresses. Internet Protocol addresses are 32-bit numbers (and now also 128-bit numbers) ranging from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. They are assigned to a device when it connects to the Internet. IP addresses can change, but a machine repeatedly uses the same address on its local network. IP addresses are leased to devices.
Some devices support World-Wide Web (WWW or W3) sites. The heart of the World-Wide Web is Hypertext documents linked together by hyperlinks – references to related information on other WWW servers. The WWW was born in the early 1990s. Before the WWW, programs and ther information were shared using bulletin board computers. A bulletin board computer was a computer that answered the telephone and connected calling computers to programs and additional data stored on its disk drive. In a flash of two or three years, Web sites on the Internet and the WWW replaced bulletin board computers.
We find Internet sites using the site’s name. A Domain Name Service (DNS) server translates this name into an IP address. This is like using a telephone book to look up the phone number of someone we wish to call. The DNS server looks up the pathway to the IP address assigned to the website’s WWW server. Because IP addresses are software assigned to Internet-connected devices, they are readily organized hierarchically, supporting routing from one IP address to another and back. All Internet communications use IP addresses. MAC addresses, being absolute, are not used for Internet routing but for device diagnostics and identification.
Higher Internet transmission speeds have resulted in Internet content moving from simple text and programs to images, voice, and video transmissions. Several years ago, companies realized that movies and television would be distributed via high-speed Internet, so they began buying films and other content for future distribution. Now Netflix, HULU, and others are competing with video on demand to provide to households connected via high-speed Internet channels.
What do I mean by high speed? The first computer communications I used ran at 300 bits per second. At that time, it was awesome. Soon, the rate went to 1,200 bps, 9,600 bps, and 56 Kbps. All done over old technology telephone lines. The 1,200 bps speed was used to send my seminar notes to Digital Equipment Corporation using the MCI Mail service. MCI Mail service would deliver on the same day for $10 a laser printed document to the sender. My course notes were around 100 pages so that it would cost $99 for this fast delivery of laser-printed copies. The only problem was 1,200 bps, it took 8 hours to upload the notes to MCI Mail. Further, MCI Mail never anticipated such a large message, so my message crashed their Boston hub. The letters got through (for free), but not as I had envisioned.
Soon, the golden speed was the telephone Company T carrier speed of 1.544 Mbps. This carried 24 simultaneous voice telephone calls or a lot of data. When I looked into this speed, it had a $3,000 installation cost and an $800 monthly ongoing fee. Within a year, the dial-up communication speeds increased to 768 Kbps, up to 3 Mbps down from the Internet. The 768 Kbps is a one-half T carrier equivalent speed. The cost there was around $100 per month. Today, my Internet communication speed is 35 Mbps up and down, running around $100 monthly.
A streaming HDTV program requires about 1.544 Mbps communication speed. With newer compression algorithms, the rate could be lower. My point is that at 3 Mbps down from the Internet, one or perhaps two devices (TV or Computer) could view a video. Still, today, with 35 Mbps, several machines (upstairs TV, kids TV, family room TV, and computers) could all be viewing videos simultaneously. In a home today, this high-speed Internet link carries connections for computers sending and receiving video, TV programming, wired telephone calls, tablets, and cell phones web surfing or making calls. This increasing demand for Internet communications supporting voice, video, and data services has kept the Internet communications network in the United States as one of the world’s top communications networks and the largest national Internet communication network.
It is also imperative that the freedom of speech be unrestricted on the Internet. Websites that espouse terror as a valid form of politics are disgusting to me. However, having any Government control over the Internet is more offensive. When people are given unrestricted access to information, they tend to make decisions for good rather than evil. Any restriction of knowledge could lead to manipulation of the people on the planet. Manipulation for what purpose, political power? Political power is addictive, and it tends to be evil. When one does not know better, one tends to unthinkingly follow based on what they know.
This year, televisions are now directly connecting to the Internet. The single communication network for the entire planet Earth will, within a decade, become the Internet. At that time, the Internet will carry all communications planet-wide. Hopefully, it will fulfill the dreams and aspirations of its creators by becoming the planet-wide unrestricted information distribution tool we all use in our daily lives.