We have the Russians to thank for the Internet. In 1957 they won the race into space by launching Sputnik (satellite with a cool name), which remained in orbit for some 3 months. Shortly thereafter (early '58) DARPA was formed .. by the U.S. military, with the purpose of keeping up with the Jones-niks. Technologically.
So it's no surprise that surviving-a-nuclear-strike would become an objective for the boys at DARPA.
That's where the idea originated for a 'robust' network .. that would eventually grow into the global Internet we now take for granted.
In other words, the Net was originally conceived as a 'nuclear grade' network of sorts. So you could say it's somewhat 'radified'. =)
On the other hand .. it surprised me to learn that the Web (World Wide Web) is less than 20 years old. The Web runs on the Net, as a 'service.' The Net predates the Web .. by 10 or 20 years.
If you look up the terms 'net' and 'web' in any dictionary, you'll see how similar their definitions are. But the net & web that WE use are different. How so? you ask?
»» The Internet = Hardware + TCP/IP
The Net = hardware (servers, routers, switches, wires, etc.) + the TCP/IP protocol ..
Not sure if your PC, when it's connected, is considered part of the Internet. Probably .. especially if it's acting as a server, which many PCs do these days.
The Internet sorta got its 'start' in 1965, when a project to create a 'robust' network was launched at DARPA.
The first connection came 4 years later in October 1969, between UCLA (Los Angeles) & the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California (.. which would become part of Silicon Valley, just south of San Francisco). UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah were added (to the connection) shortly thereafter.
So you could argue the Internet began in 1969. This is definitely the coolest of the 3 dates I propose. It's the one I prefer to use and probably the most popular. [ Can amost hear the Beatles playing » Come Together. ]
The term 'Internet' was first used in 1974 .. to describe a global TCP/IP network. So, you could also argue the Internet (that we know today) began in 1973 (.. with TCP/IP).
The first TCP/IP-based wide-area network was operational in January 1983. So, you could also argue the Internet began then. But no later.
Note the Internet has a backbone, which helps to conceptualize it. Our system of road-works seem to offer a suitable analogy .. with bigger/faster sections branching out into smaller/slower ones. All being controlled by rules (protocols) to maximize flow and minimize collisions.
During the '80's the TCP/IP protocol became increasingly popular. And here we are. I just don't know when the first non-U.S. connection was added .. to fill in my mental timeline, cuz I like to learn about the things I use on a regular basis. But Nigel says (in an email):
Trying to pin a date on the Internet is pointless. What mattered was the things you could *do*, not the specific technology. During the 70's lots of folks could already do lots of "internet" things (mail, forums, etc.). Only missing was the mass accessibility on a global scale.
Speaking of mass accessibility on a global scale...