Early days of computer networks – In the early days when the computer networking was taking shape in the universities and other research laboratories the things which were commonly done on network were
- Exchanging of mails with others
- Exchange of files and other documents
- Execution of computer programmed on other remote computer. It was possible to sit at the ones department computer and from there connect to mainframe computer (which was faster apart from other things) of the university (or if permission was granted on some other research laboratory in far off place) and run the computer programmed.
- Remote login, i.e. login to remote computer system (required of permission goes without saying), and once one logged on the system, he becomes a regular user of the computer just like others who have logged in directly and not through network.
- Use the printer and other peripheral devices connected to the remote computer.
In fact it is the combination of the above things which had greater impact. With the above possibilities, it was possible to have a group of scientists, professors, their students, administrators, from geographically distant places to work on a particular project overcoming the barrier of distance.
Possibilities like the above and situations advancement in the field of computers and data communication further research into computer networks.
Born of Internet
In fact it was the U.S government (for the military purpose) which took the initiative and funded the project for the development of networks known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Project Agency Network) in the 70’s and early 80’s of twentieth century. Original ideas of the government was to have all the computers of the military establishment to be connected, and the network should be so robust and reliable even in the event of war breaking out with the enemy state and some of the network infrastructure is damaged, the remaining computers should be able to work as a network without any problem. There should be no single point of control for network, reliability on the data communication channels should be minimum and no assumptions should be made on the kind of computer and communication channel. In other word it was supposed to support heterogeneous computer system and communication channel both of which are unreliable.
The research came out with a protocol known as TCP/IP (Transmission Control / Internet Protocol). This protocol gave the guidelines that should be followed by the participating computer systems in order to communicate as intended. Originally this was implemented on a network known as ARPANET. Most of computers connected to this were belonging to the military establishment apart from the participating universities.
Later funding was provided to the University of California, Berkeley, to implement the protocol in their popular version of UNIX operating system which was known as Berkeley Unix. This flavor of UNIX operating system was very popular amongst the academic community as the source code of the operating system was not secret but was the public domain. It was the implementation of the TCP/IP in the Berkeley UNIX which led to the widespread implementation of networks based on TCP/IP as the graduates coming out of the universities and getting employed in the industry were at ease with it. Since many networks were implemented using TCP/IP protocol, it became very easy to interconnect those networks which were talking the same language of networking (TCP/IP). Thus born of the computer networks, which is today known is Internet.
TCP/IP is not only protocol available for the computer networks. In fact during the same period of TCP/IP development there were many other protocols implemented by the industry. But none of them could succeed like the TCP/IP which is the core of today’s Internet.
Now the computer network has become dominating media, sociologists are discussing about the impact of it on the society. Now laws are getting enacted to bring some order to it in many countries.
In the earlier days one was able to exchange mails, document, execute program and do other such things. Now it is probably easy to list what one cannot do which the internet instead of what one can do. In fact one can read tomorrows newspaper today (night) itself! This is possible as many newspaper companies have prepare on the Internet and most of them update the content on previous night itself as soon as it is ready for the print.