Internet: Origins and Future
21st September 2019

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” ~Bill Gates


The expansion of the Internet, which began off as a Military Experiment for Strategic and Tactical Information Dissemination, has developed to a completely fledged methods for correspondence and information sharing over a wide cluster of subjects for overall population, scholastics and experts who have used the wide exhibit of tools and sites accessible on the Internet or more colloquially said as available “Online” by Modern Netizens, a word which was popularized in the decade when the Internet was first commercially thrown up for general usage by the people. The Internet has revolutionized the world of Computers and Communication like never before and its unprecedented growth even outmatched that of Television and Radio going in an evolutionary fashion anticipated by none. However, the World of Internet and Websites is not a sudden outcome but is built on a base which has been made strong by the hard dredging of the Human Race with the beginning of the Mathematical and Logical Study along with the idea of dialect which enabled people to speak with one another. The wheel was first invented almost 5500 years ago, the first programmable computer almost 83 years ago. It might not take us long to break through another ground break if we look upon Moore’s Law which is a driving force behind Technological Advancements and an exponential rise in Human Technology. The Internet has thrown up many ethical challenges and societal challenges towards us which we will discuss along with how the Internet works its origins and its future towards another ground break.

The rise of the Internet cannot be just attributed to a single era or phenomena but years of hard work on the basics of Mathematics and Logical Studies which today forms the base of Computing and Programming, both of which are put into play into Networking and especially the Internet. The history of the Internet kickstarted when the infamous Space Race between the then superpowers USA and USSR started after USSR launched its first satellite Sputnik-1 in Space on October 4, 1957. This was a huge leap for mankind and this historical launch felicitated USA to keep its pace with USSR in terms of technological advancement keeping toe-with-toe to its potential adversary whom it viewed with rising suspicions amid a Global Arms Race.


The US Department of Defence responded by establishing the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to give rise to innovative ideas and prototype them to be beneficial to the USA and especially its rising Military which at that time required an effective Communication Network. This task was jointly done by ARPA in conjunction with the universities and primary research laboratories in the USA. In 1962, J.C.R Licklider of MIT started discussing Social Interactions through Networking Systems and started to put forward his own “Galactic Network” concept. Later in the same year, Licklider became the head of Information Processing Techniques Office in ARPA where he started discussing his ideas about the networking concept with fellow researchers and colleagues. Leonard Kleinrock, an MIT Researcher published a paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis” and later a book on Packet Switching Theory which saw that information should be passed as packets rather than circuits and with Lawrence Roberts of ARPA, he used his TX-2 Computer to build the first-ever Wide Area Network using a low-speed telephone line. This was the Inception! 


By 1966, Roberts went back to ARPA and put forward his concept of “ARPANET” which would lend US Military a second-strike capability against a possible Soviet Nuclear Attack which would possibly cripple the existing US Military Networks in first hand. Kleinrock was not the only one who was struck with the idea of Packet Switching. His contemporary at British National Physical Laboratory, Donald Davies was also concentrating about such a method of using packets to achieve fast-speed communications. Similar work was also going in on at RAND under Paul Baran. He created his own NPL Wide Area Network thus making ARPANET and NPL Network be the first computer systems exploiting this technique. The theory of Packet Switching stated that messages will be broken into an equal size with a header address identifying its source and destination and if they are corrupted while being delivered they can be resent and reassembled thus making this technique versatile and robust for extensive Wide Area Networks.


After the ARPANET was established, the data transfer speed was fixed not to exceed the limit of 50 kilobytes per second (kbps) and now the Packet Switches were called Interface Message Switchers. After the development of first Packet Radio ALOHANET, the campuses at the University of Hawaii were linked to the ARPANET. By 1972 there were 37 nodes around the United States connecting to the ARPANET built across the Atlantic Coast. Further, by compound efforts of Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf, the TCP/IP (Internet Protocol Suite) was established. The beginning steps of the Internet were not directed for Commercial Use but Government, MIlitary and Educational Use alone. 


Even though Internet had its inception in 1991, it has experienced significant changes over a short time encompassing a wide variety of services and information making it a hotspot for upcoming innovation and dissemination of existing ideas which will further pave the way to a much more powerful more regulated and. Internet secured which from at external the same time is many threats. The first obvious change that we would see on the Internet is the rise in the data transmission speeds. Ever since 1G Network was introduced by Nordic Mobile Telephone in 1982, the data transmission speeds have risen once in every one decade with 2G introduced in 1992 and 3G introduced in 2001. The data transmission speeds saw a recent surge in 2012 with the rise of 4G Network which allowed smartphones to use a wider bandwidth in communication channel for data. The next big thing however for the Internet is the introduction of 5G Network.


5G, which is touted to be a 12-fold increase in spectrum efficiency which will give ten times faster speed than 4G, is already in a budding stage where South Korea launched the 5G technology during the 2018 Winter Olympics where it collaborated with Ericsson, Intel, KT and Samsung. 5G Technology is already been seen as the trend of the future with early adoption to start by the initial years of the next decade. 5G Technology is touted to be the biggest revolution ever in the field of wireless communication and it will dramatically change the landscape of the Internet also with high-speed connections coupled with affordable devices to access such high speeds, paving way further for Internet Literacy and more and more people across the globe to be gathered within the folds of Internet. 5G would pave for a “smarter” world where the Internet can be utilized for multimedia messaging to autonomous driving and leading the way for the real-world application of the much-hyped “Internet of Things” which is expected to become a reality soon.

Internet’s landscape would also change with rising voices advocating for the Net Neutrality which is a term is used to encompass concept that people should not be restricted on the Internet and everyone should be provided with same services as others get on the Internet. Many nations are now advocating for Net Neutrality where no particular discrimination is shown against people and the content utilizing blocking, shadow banning, degrading and even slowing down the network. 

The Internet is also expected to encompass many new technologies in the upcoming decade which will dramatically change, how we view information and how relevant the information is. With the introduction of Big Data, a lot of current trends can be analyzed by big parties involved in shaping new products for use in an ever-changing world. Social Media generates about 1.2 million new data every day while Google Search Engine running 3.5 Billion queries per day. With such a huge volume of data involved, the consumer history can be kept at a track which can then be analyzed and processed to give a new height to the experience provided to the user by high-end means like the Internet of Things. Big Data can also do wonders in E-Commerce and Online Shopping where based upon our past transactions, new suggestions are generated which might be beneficial for us. 

The rise of Augmented Reality where “Digital” things are augmented onto the real world is also creating waves of appreciation among the initial users. Augmented Reality or better called as the AR, is much different from the VR or Virtual Reality in the sense that it “augments” virtual things onto the real world. Some good examples of AR application include mobile applications which can conveniently do many of our chores like identifying, characterizing and interacting with real-world objects through “augmented” means. 

Lastly, we have our Internet of Things (IoT) which by estimates given by Gartner is expected to encompass some 26 Billion Connected Device, Altogether Internet of Things is expected to jump from the screen of our laptops and smartphones and augment with our day to day life activities and gadgets we use which is expected to make our lives much more easier. IoT is expected to automate a lot of new activities at our home, like using a single mobile application to control the electricity consumption in the house, or industrial applications where manufacturing equipment can be monitored by IoT devices and early defects can be ironed out in the production line itself. The idea of Smart Cities can also be implemented with applications of IoT like Traffic-Management System, Sewage-Control System, Smart Parking Meters and more. 

The current trends of the Internet have just shown that instead of slowing down, the Internet is rising every year in an exponential degree. Marshall McLuhan back in his work “Understanding Media” written in 1964 termed the phrase “global village” where the world is connected by an electronic nervous system. The Internet has made this dream, realize with 0.4% of the world’s population on the Internet in 1995 rising to about 55.6% of the World’s Population on the Internet by the last year-end with the number of Internet users showing a growth of 1066% ever since the start of this new millennium. Rising trends of the Internet will hurl in ever-rising trends of new bars of innovation which is expected to change the Internet completely and will address the issues that have plagued it currently ranging from Security to Net Neutrality.


Written by: Harsh Bardhan Mishra

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