Part of our History of the Internet
Brought to you by: Brad’s Electronics
Most people do not realize that when you connect to the internet with your computer, cell phone, or other device, you are connecting to millions of other devices on a network. A network is a group of compatible devices connected together by some means that communicate with each other. The internet is a very network made up of billions of computers.
No one really knows the exact number of computers that are connected. However, some estimate around 5-6 billion. One reason it is very difficult to know exactly how many is a technology called Network Address Translation or “NAT”. Without getting to technical, NAT is a way for one Internet Protocol Address “IP” to share a connection between multiple computers. We will get into more of this later.
The Internet Backbone
At the very root of the internet is called the backbone. This is what is responsible for making sure the information gets where it needs to go. The beginning of the internet started with the original backbone in 1969, ARPAnet. Today there are a number of companies that operate the tier 1, 2 and 3 networks that make up today’s backbone.
Companies like AT&T and Verizon make up the tier 1 networks which is the main backbone. The tier 2 and 3 connect to the tier 1 backbone. This collaboration begin in the mid 90′s when the internet went commercial. Until then it was used mainly for sharing information from universities and businesses.
How Computers on the Internet Communicate
Each connection to the internet has to have what is called an IP address. Today most computers use IPv4. IPv4 allows for over 4 billion address, which may seem like a-lot but we are running out of space with the version. Ipv6 will soon replace it.
As mentioned earlier NAT allows an IP address to share one connection with multiple computers. It does this by means of a router. Routers are used throughout the internet, starting with the backbone all the way down to the local Internet Service Providers “ISP’s”. If you like experiments you can see the number of routers and networks your internet connection goes though to get a website like google. If you open your command prompt by clicking on your windows start button, then clicking on the run command, “or type into the search box on Windows 7″ –tracert www.google.com–. Currently with my connection I have to go through 10 routers and networks just to get to Google.
The growth of TCP/IP
During the 1970′s the protocol that made modern internet communication possible was developed. This is known as TCP/IP or Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol. TCP handles the breaking down of the packets into IP before sending them to the internet. When the packets are received back the TCP assembles the signal back together.
Tying it all Together
In order for a user to connect to the internet they need an Internet Service Provider “ISP”, such as Hughesnet Satellite Internet. ISP’s have a number of IP addresses they can provide to customers. When you sign up for service the ISP will connect you into one of there routers that is connected into a tier 1 backbone.
So did Al Gore invent the Internet?
Well the answer here should be obvious. With all we have talked about it is clear Al Gore did not invent the internet. This is a rumor that sprung up after he made a statement on a television interview in 1999. However, the term “information superhighway” can be credited to him for becoming so popular.