Have you ever wondered, who invented the Internet? The answer to this question has been a subject of fierce debate. The hordes of people who work, learn and surf on the Internet have often been curious about the origins of this tool that has revolutionized communications. More specifically, they wonder, who deserves their thanks? As with many brilliant inventions, credit can't be handed to a single individual. In fact, several people and organizations are responsible for invention of the Internet.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
After the USSR launched the first satellite, the egos of American scientists and researchers were bruised, and they felt the need to develop bigger and better projects. While ideas for an information exchange network were theorized in the early 1960s, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was the first to develop a packet switching network. Packet switching involved compression of data into small packets that could be transmitted independently. The new network was called ARPANET, and it utilized information exchange technology that would underlie the Internet we know and love today.
Because the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency was comprised of many individuals, it's impossible to identify a sole creator of the Internet. However, a few scientists led the way toward the new network's development.
Robert Metcalfe And The Ethernet
After flunking out of Harvard, an electrical engineer named Robert Metcalfe set out to build on ARPANET's rudimentary technology. He succeeded. In 1973, Metcalfe co-created the Ethernet, which was a communications protocol used for connecting one network to another over short distances. Collectively, these network connections were known as Local Area Networks, or LAN. These Local Area Networks are used extensively today, and without them the Internet in its current form would simply not exist.
Occasionally referred to as the "mother of the Internet," Radia Perlman is credited for inventing the spanning tree algorithm. The spanning tree algorithm enables functional operation of the Internet, as it prevents loops and network redundancy that would clog and disable Web sites. As the Internet runs according to this algorithm, all Internet users are indebted to Perlman.
A Network of Inventors
The Internet was not created by a single individual. Rather, technological advances developed 40 years ago by a collective have been nurtured by several individuals. Today, wireless Internet services and easy Internet access allow for common use of the frameworks developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Robert Metcalfe and Radia Perlman. Indeed, many contributors to the Internet may never be identified, as the Internet has proven to be a truly collaborative enterprise.