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History of the Internet - Wikipedia

The origins of how the Internet came to be are complex, while ARPANET is identified as the computer network that evolved into the Internet, the scientists who inspired the scientists who built ARPANET are harder to identify. In 1948, Claude Shannon wrote an article titled "A Mathematical Theory of Communication", he is credited as being the 'father' of information theory; while at MIT, he taught Ivan Sutherland, who would later install one of the first ARPANET nodes. Vannevar Bush and his proposed Memex automatic information management system -- outlined in an Atlantic Daily article titled 'As We May Think' in 1945 -- is often credited with inspiring budding American research scientists. In the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan envisioned a 'global village' which would be achieved through the use of advanced electronics.

iG: Beginners Guide to the Internet

It is generally accepted that it was the work of Donald Davies that provided the term "packet", and he oversaw one of the first working examples of packet switching at the National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom) in 1968; this project created the NPL Mark I computer network. Another influencial, early computer network, was (1973): which invented the use of datagrams (best effort unreliable data transmission). Some other early computer networks that may have had a minor influence upon the design of the Internet include: Societe lnternationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITAnet), European Informatics Network (EIN), TYMNET, and RCP (Reseau a Commutation par Paquets). However, the most influencial packet switching network was ARPANET: many of the scientists who built APRANET were involved in the design of the Internet. ARPANET is generally regarded as the forerunner to the Internet.

When the North American ARPANET computer network was being developed in the early 1970s, Donald Davies, as head of the UK's NPL Network, declined an offer from Larry Roberts (ARPANET) to interconnect their networks. This was due to the European computer network initiative, the UK at the time wanted to join the European Union, and Davies had to focus on European research projects. However, in 1971, ARPANET did manage to connect to a UK node: UCL (University College of London), at a speed of 9.6 Kbps. By 1975, the UCL link was being used by a number of Ministry of Defense (UK) installations, and it was also used to test TCP/IP in the mid-1970's: sending data packets via radio from a car travelling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to a terminal at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern. UCL scholars, Paal Spilling and Peter Kirstein, played an important role in the development of TCP/IP, and Kirstein is often referred to as a 'founding father of the European Internet'. Kirstein has commented that a UK government agency asked him to stop working on TCP/IP and focus on an international network standard, but he refused.