The history of the internet

dalla Tesina “Le trasformazioni del linguaggio attraverso i mezzi di comunicazione” di Barbara Ruzzo

ITC Melloni – Classe 5 Sirio  – Anno scolastico 2010 – 2011

The internet started in the 60s when the American Defense Department wanted an extremely safe way of sending messages in case of nuclear attack.
It was 1957 when the then Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. Americans were shocked by the news. The Cold War was at its peak, and the United States and the Soviet Union considered each other enemies. If the Soviet Union could launch a satellite into space, it was possible it could launch a missile at North America.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in 1958 as a direct response to Sputnik’s launch. ARPA’s purpose was to give the United States a technological edge over other countries. One important part of ARPA’s mission was computer science.
In the 1950s, computers were enormous devices that filled entire rooms. They had a fraction of the power and processing ability you can find in a modern PC. Many computers could only read magnetic tape or punch cards, and there was no way to network computers together.
ARPA aimed to change that and to create a computer network. The network had to connect four computers running on four different operating systems. They called the network ARPANET.
Without ARPANET, the Internet wouldn’t look or behave the way it does today — Moreover, without ARPANET, it may have taken many more years before anyone tried to find ways to join regional networks together into a larger system.
Most early Internet users were government and military employees, graduate students and computer scientists. They used the net to send email messages. Later on, using the World Wide Web, the hypertext and the web browsers Internet became much more accessible.
Nowadays Internet is more complex than ever. Not only it has become a sort of powerful database made up of a vast number of sites were the user can get all sorts of information, it also connects computers, satellites, mobile devices and other gadgets together in a massive network mill’ions of times more intricate than the original ARPANET.
Internet works using a set of rules, the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol suite (TCP/IP), and the graphic browsers that allow the end user to explore the network simply by clicking on the links, texts or photos that open new windows.
But at the beginning computers were not so user friendly. The first user interfaces to computers were not graphical or visually oriented; they were all text and keyboard commands. We can consider that the first computer ever to use a windows system was the Apple Lisa”.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers, visited PARC(Palo Alto Research Center) in 1979 (after buying Xerox stock) and was impressed by the “Alto”, the first computer ever with a graphical user interface, a GUI (pronounced GOO-ee). GUI is a graphical user interface. The GUI provides you with windows, pull-down menus, clickable buttons, scroll bars, icons, images and the mouse or pointer. Several PARC engineers were later hired by Apple and worked on the Apple Lisa and Macintosh. The Apple research team contributed much in terms of originality on the way the GUIs are made nowadays.
The other innovative features include drop-down menu bar, windows, multiple tasking, the ability to copy and paste, icons, folders and a mouse
.. And to think, we owe it all to a silver beeping ball that once orbited miles above the Earth’s surface.
Una vera e propria agorà virtuale, la massima espressione della democrazia, dove ognuno può manifestare liberamente il proprio pensiero. È chiaro, quindi, che tutta questa libertà preoccupa non poco gli uomini al potere, specie se si trovano a governare da decenni un paese dove, alla fine scoppia la rivolta, come l’Egitto in queste settimane. Proprio nel paese nordafricano è stato dimostrato come la potenza della rete e la diffusione delle idee via web non sia solo frutto di una mentalità fantascientifica