History of Computer Networks | Corporate Network Planet
Computer networks are central to the ever-changing information technology (IT) landscape of today. Network and communication technologies played a role in this ascent. Computer networking allows the interconnection of terminals and devices on local networks (The Nou wide area networks (WAN). This enables interaction, communication and sharing of resources between businesses, service providers and consumers.
To understand how networking became as essential as it is today, it is important to study its origins. The vastness of computer networks makes it difficult to determine its exact origins. However, since the late 1950s, the impact of networks on technological change has become increasingly important.
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Networking in the 1960s
The definitive beginnings of computer networks date back to the 1960s. In particular, the beginning of the United States Advanced Research Projects Agencies Network (ARPANET) in 1969 was the most influential event of that decade. In addition, the 1960s were marked by milestones such as the launch of Telstar 1 in 1962 and the introduction of the first commercial touch-tone telephone in 1962.
This decade also involved the publication of the first Request for Comments (RFC) document. The document defined and provided information on computer communication network procedures and network protocols. Following this RFC document, the Network Control Protocol (NCP) was specified. This protocol became the first transport protocol of ARPANET.
Additionally, IBM’s System/360 core computing environment was introduced in 1964.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network in the United States is the network that laid the foundations of the Internet. A number of network protocols in use today were first developed for ARPANET. First used in 1969, it became the first public packet-switched computer network, with its main purposes revolving around academia and research.
In 1969, the UNIX operating system was developed by Bell Laboratories. This is notable, as the operating system is commonly used in corporate network environments today. It was the first operating system written entirely in the C programming language. Its popularity grew in the 1970s in academic computing environments and allowed multiple users to simultaneously access the system and run their programs.
However, its full-scale deployment did not occur until the mid-1970s. PDP-11 mini computer with dumb terminals constituted a basic UNIX system.
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Character coding systems
As computer networking standards began to evolve during this decade, IBM introduced the Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC), which was the first 8-bit character encoding system. The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) was introduced a year later to compete with EBCDIC.
The American National Standards Institute officially standardized ASCII in 1968. Even though ASCII was 7-bit, it preceded EBCDIC. ASCII ended up being extended to all computer technologies and networks.
Networking in the 1970s
The 1970s introduced today’s most popular LAN technology: Ethernet.
Thanks to Xerox’s research lab, Ethernet was born in 1973. Xerox’s networking system originally operated at 2.94 Mbps. However, it was experimental and therefore was not implemented for commercial use.
In 1979, the DIX Consortium, consisting of Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel and Xerox, was formed. He set up the specification for the 10Mbps Ethernet standard which was published in 1980.
ARPANET grew rapidly in the 1970s as it proved attractive to many universities and government computers. The network was declared operational in 1975 and was used to advance communications technology. At this point, satellite links made it possible to add computers from other countries to the ARPANET. Also, the first email was sent via ARPANET in 1971.
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
The popularity of ARPANET influenced the rise of many packet-based networks. However, these networks were unable to communicate with each other. They needed standardized equipment to communicate. TCP/IP was developed on ARPANET to allow communication between different networks. It entered service in 1977.
By allowing the interconnection of different networks, TCP/IP has established itself as the fundamental technology of the Internet.
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Networking in the 1980s
During this decade, the growth of client-server architectures continued at the expense of mainframe computing.
ARPANET was split into two networks in 1983 to distinguish between civilian and military use. However, other networks gained prominence in the mid-1980s, causing the ARPANET’s importance to decline. The backbone of the Internet has moved from ARPANET to National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) in 1986.
The rise of commercial networks and other network providers contributed to the shutdown of ARPANET in 1989 and its eventual dismantling in 1990.
The National Science Foundation Network was more capable than ARPANET as the cornerstone of the commercial public Internet. It handled the bulk of Internet traffic after it came online in 1986. NSFNET’s goal was to provide a network strictly for academic research and not for any form of private commercial activity.
It was, however, split into a for-profit and non-profit network to allow the network to grow commercially in the early 1990s.
Evolution of Ethernet
In the 1980s, the evolution and standardization of Ethernet was the biggest development of LAN networks. Project 802 by IEEE was launched to create a unified standard for all LANs. The initiative was split into several groups, with one focusing on Ethernet labeled 802.3. In 1983, the 802.3 group published IEEE 802.3 Ethernet 10Base5, which was the first commercially available Ethernet variant. It was known as thick network because it used thick coaxial cables.
The 10Base2 Ethernet standard came out in 1985. It was known as Thinnet because it involved the use of thin coaxial cables.
Network File System (NFS)
The Network File System was developed in 1985 and increased the demand for Ethernet. Indeed, NFS led to the rapid rise of diskless UNIX workstations with built-in Ethernet interfaces. NFS helped consolidate UNIX’s dominance in academic and professional computing environments in the 1980s.
Token Ring Topology
IBM submitted its Token Ring Topology technology to the IEEE in 1982, but it was not standardized until 1984. In 1985 the technology was introduced as an alternative to Ethernet.
Networking from the 1990s to today
Ethernet continued to dominate LAN technologies into the 1990s as it continued to eclipse its alternatives.
Full Duplex Ethernet
With computer networks facing rapid growth at the time, faster Ethernet speeds were needed to satisfy the needs of bandwidth-intensive applications. As a result, the first full-duplex Ethernet with speeds of 20 Mbps was introduced in 1992. A standard full-duplex Ethernet had been in the works since 1995 and was completed in 1997.
In 1992, an Ethernet bus known as the Grand Junction Networks Commercial Ethernet Bus was introduced. It reached speeds of 100 Mbps. This breakthrough prompted the 802.3 group to introduce the 802u 100BaseT Fast Ethernet Standard. Data transmitted standard at 100 Mbps over optical fiber and twisted pair cables.
After the 100BaseT Fast Ethernet standard, attention turned to Gigabit Ethernet, which is the 1000 Mbps version of Ethernet. It came into use in 1999, and due to its huge speed improvement over Fast Ethernet, it replaced Ethernet in wired LANs.
Voice over IP (VoIP) rose to prominence as providers increasingly promised businesses massive cost savings by routing telephone traffic through IP networks in the late 1990s. However, the concept of VoIP began circa 1995, with the potential for transmitting voice data packets over IP as opposed to using a standard telephone.
1997 saw the introduction of the first 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. It provided speeds of up to 2 Mbps. It was formalized in 1999, with the ability to reach transmission speeds of 25 Mbps and used the 5GHz frequency band.
computer networks today
As demands for Wi-Fi and Ethernet have continued to increase over the years, networking technology has continued to evolve. Networking today is defined by the need for low-latency, high-bandwidth networking technologies.
The most important technologies associated with networking today include 5G and Wi-Fi 6, augmented reality, virtual reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computingInternet of Things, software-defined wide area networks, etc.