History of the Internet End Series


 The Future's History

The FNC overwhelmingly passed a resolution establishing the word Internet on October 24, 1995. This definition was created with the help of members of the internet and intellectual property rights communities. RESOLUTION: The Federal Networking Council (FNC) agrees that the text below accurately represents our understanding of the term "Internet."

The term "Internet" refers to a worldwide information system that — 

  • Is logically connected by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its later extensions/follow-ons; and

  • Can enable communications through the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its later extensions/follow-ons, as well as other IP-compatible protocols; and

  • Delivers, utilises, or makes available high-level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure defined herein, either publicly or privately.

The Internet has evolved dramatically in the two decades since its inception. It was developed during the period of time-sharing, but has withstood the eras of personal computers, client-server and peer-to-peer computing, and network computers. It was created before the existence of LANs, but it has supported that new network technology and the more modern ATM and frame switched services.

It was intended to enable a wide range of operations, including file sharing and remote login, as well as resource sharing and collaboration, and it gave rise to electronic mail and, more recently, the World Wide Web. Most importantly, it began with a small group of committed academics and has grown to be a commercial success with billions of dollars in yearly investment.

One should not infer that the Internet has reached a point of no return. The Internet, while a network in name and location, is a computer creation rather than a typical telephone or television network. If it is to remain relevant, it must continue to adapt and advance at the rate of the computer industry. It is currently evolving to provide new services like as real-time transport in order to enable audio and video streams, for example.

The availability of ubiquitous networking (i.e., the Internet) in conjunction with powerful inexpensive computing and communications in portable form (i.e., laptop computers, two-way pagers, PDAs, cellular phones) is enabling a new paradigm of nomadic computing and communications. This development will result in new applications, such as Internet telephone and, in the future, Internet television. It is evolving to allow for increasingly complex types of pricing and cost recovery, which is a potentially unpleasant need in today's business environment. 

It is evolving to accommodate a new generation of underlying network technologies with unique features and requirements, such as broadband home access and satellites. New means of access and new types of service will spawn new applications, which will fuel the net's continued evolution.

The most important concern for the Internet's future is not how technology will evolve, but how change and evolution will be handled. The architecture of the Internet has always been driven by a core group of designers, as described in this article, but the shape of that group has evolved as the number of interested parties has expanded. The development of the Internet has resulted in an increase in the number of stakeholders - stakeholders who now have an economic as well as an intellectual investment in the network.

We are currently witnessing a fight to identify the next social structure that will lead the Internet in the future, as we dispute ownership of the domain name space and the format of next-generation IP addresses. Given the huge number of parties involved, the shape of that organization will be more difficult to find. At the same time, the business is struggling to create an economic justification for the massive investments required for future development, such as upgrading residential access to more appropriate technology.

If the Internet fails, it will not be due to a lack of technology, vision, or ambition on our part. It will be because we are unable to chart a course and march forward as a group.



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