Essentially the creation of the Internet has changed every aspect of our day-to-day lives, but before the 1960s it was only a figment of our imaginations. Had it not been for the Soviets, there is a possibility that the future of the Internet may have been severely altered. In 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I into space initiating an arms race between the United States and Russia. With this event President Eisenhower knew that he had to do something to regain control of space. Thus the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was born. DARPA would develop a way to communicate with networked computers, which was known as the “Internetting” project (Day, 2003). This was the vision of a man named John Licklider who “had a vision of a vast network of computers providing access to data and programs on a global scale” (Boston University CDIA, 2008). Licklider would call this vision the “Galactic Network.” This is how the “Internet” eventually would come to be, which was coined in 1983 (Boston University CDIA, 2008). Throughout the first years of the Internet, its uses would be limited to connecting four universities with the network and use by the U.S. military. This first prototype was known as ARPANET. Within the next decade ARPANET would branch to 50 schools and by the 1982 computers across America were programmed to talk to each other no matter what operating system that they ran on (Day, 2003). Within 10 years the World Wide Web would be born bringing the world closer than ever before.
The Purpose of the Internet
There was a debate on what the original purpose of the Internet, or ARPANET at that time, was used for. Although it was used widely used by the military, it was also used by researchers to keep in contact with other researchers. A former director of ARPA, the agency that created ARPANET, Charles M. Herzfeld said, “it (ARPANET) came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country and that many research investigators who should have access were geographically separated from them" (Bellis, 2012). Thus with the access of ARPANET they were closer to others although they may be, geographically, on the other side of the country. In the 21st century however, the Internet does much more than what it was capable of and designed for 40-plus years ago. Although we still use the Internet for the original purpose of gathering information and keeping an open line of communication, it is also used to buy and sell merchandise, advertise, gossip, go to school full-time, and share data, such as music, pictures, and videos.
The Internet’s Impact on Culture and Society
The Internet has changed everything we do and how we do it. It has changed the way we meet our spouses, interact with our friends, start our vehicles, and even affects our style and personal appearance. Some individuals may remember what life was like before the Internet and readjusting, for them may be quite difficult in this technological and digital world. But for those born within the last 20 to 30 years, the Internet is an essential part of their lives. Before the Internet, life was a simpler time when friends were not just people whom you only associated with on Facebook or Twitter. During the pre-Internet time one would physically have to go to another’s home or vise-versa to see what was new in his or hers life. Also if someone wanted to meet the love of his or her life they would have to bump into him or her at the grocery store or possibly strike up a conversation in a bar. Today, however, there is hundreds of Internet dating sites devoted to helping one find that special someone like Christian Mingle, Match.com, or eHarmony. The Internet has even made owning a business on the corner of the street a thing of the past. No longer do you have to leave your home to go grocery shopping, buy the clothes that you wear every day, get a Bachelor’s degree, or order a pizza; now one can do all of this and more from the comfort of their couch and at the touch of their fingertips. Businesses like Amazon, who got their start as a book selling company online, and Wal-Mart can ship all sorts of merchandise around the world within a couple of days because of the Internet (Demand Media, 2011).The Internet is virtually everywhere that we look and it controls just about everything we do. It is no longer a device or a tool that researchers and the military are only allowed to use. It is now a tool designed specifically for our everyday needs and may be used on our cellphones, televisions, and in our vehicles. There is no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we function throughout the day and with time it will only grow to be more a part of our lives
Bellis, M. (2012). Inventors of the modern computer. Retrieved 2012, from About.com Inventors: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091598.htm
Boston University CDIA. (2008, October 9). A brief history of the internet. Retrieved 2012, from Center for Digital Imagine Arts at Boston University: http://www.cdiabu.com/a-brief-history-of-the-internet/
Day, A. (2003). A brief history of the shaping of the internet. Futurics, 71-72.
Demand Media. (2011). The History of Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012, from Essortment: http://www.essortment.com/history-amazoncom-21180.html
www.livinginternet.com. (1996-2012). Internet history. Retrieved 2012, from The World's First Web Published Book: http://www.livinginternet.com/i/ii_summary.htm