Monday, December 15, 2008

A Short History of the Web

In the late 1950s, the U.S. government formed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). This was largely a response to the Russian success in launching the Sputnik satellite and employed some of the country's top scientific intellects in research work with U.S. military applications.

During the 1960s, the agency created a decentralized computer network known as ARPAnet. This embryonic network initially linked four computers located at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah, with more nodes added in the early 1970s.

The network had initially been designed using the then-new technology of packet switching and was intended as a communication system that would remain functional even if some nodes should be destroyed by a nuclear attack.

Email was implemented in 1972, closely followed by the telnet protocol for logging on to remote computers and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), enabling file transfer between computers.

This developing network was enhanced further in subsequent years with improvements to many facets of its protocols and tools. However, it was not until 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee and his colleagues at the European particle physics laboratory CERN (Conseil Européen pour le Recherche Nucléaire) proposed the concept of linking documents with hypertext that the now familiar World Wide Web began to take shape. The year 1993 saw the introduction of Mosaic, the first graphical web browser and forerunner of the famous Netscape Navigator.

The use of hypertext pages and hyperlinks helped to define the page-based interface model that we still regard as the norm for web applications today.

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