A Bit History of Internet/Preface


The Internet is a many things to many people. Some people use it for socializing, some people use it for communicating, some people use it for learning, some people use it for remotely controlling equipment, while others just use it for fun. The Internet has served many purposes beyond its original intention of providing reliable communication infrastructure in the face of a disaster such as a nuclear attack. Most of the users of the Internet are not technology savvy and cannot even differentiate between bits and bytes or between PCs and servers. Yet amazingly, without knowing a thing about how it works, they use the Internet to complete their tasks efficiently and effectively. It is our hope that by writing this book, we may shed some light on the history of the Internet in fun, intuitive, and informative ways.

The title chosen for this book is “A Bit History of Internet”. If you can imagine how many exabytes of information are available on the Internet (one exabyte is equivalent to 1000 000 000 000 000 000 bits), you'll see that this book only covers a small fraction of the history of the Internet. We as the users—or citizens—of the Internet nevertheless try our best to contribute to information about the Internet as we've come to understand it from many online and offline sources. The term "collective intelligence" describes a major underpinning of the Internet phenomenon; now we are using the same technique to produce this book. By writing this book we hope that current and future generations of Internet users can appreciate the Internet as it is, use it to its maximum potential, and above all leverage it for the benefit of mankind.

Chapter 1 introduces the new concept of the Internet and how it came into existence. We cover the key players and the separation of the Internet (as we know it today) from the original ARPAnet.

Chapter 2 lays the foundation of circuit switching vs packet switching. It describes how the limits of circuit switching were apparent to the early Internet pioneers, and how the conventional circuit switching community originally dismissed the possibility of a wide scale deployment of the new packet switching technology.

Chapter 3 introduces the Internet edges. Unlike a dumb circuit switching node, the edge nodes are intelligent, performing most of the processing for running end users' specific tasks on the network.

Chapter 4 introduces the simple Internet core architecture that enables easy maintenance, and the Internet's highly reliable/efficient infrastructure which distributes the routing of information packets.

Chapter 5 introduces the fundamentals of networked nodes on the Internet. One of the key building blocks that form the basis of communication on the Internet is the client-server concept. Due to the proliferation of computer power to the end node (i.e. PC), the PC can become the server while simultaneously acting as a client. This relatively new phenomenon, covered in Chapter 6, has been made popular by Napster and other peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks, and has taken the entertainment industry by surprise since it make it easy for the users to share their music collections. This remains an unresolved issue until today.

Chapter 7 introduces the new service model based on the Internet's global and high-speed characteristics. Accessing remote servers across the continent is as simple as accessing local resources. This has created a new cloud-computing industry that is championed by Amazon and Google. The argument for the cloud proponents is that it is easier and cheaper for a larger, specialized company to host the software and data on behalf of smaller businesses, rather than each end-user setting up and maintaining their own server farm.

Chapter 8 introduces the new concept of Internet-of-Things. With the introduction of IPv6 address it is theoretically possible for every item on Earth to be connected to the Internet. Useful ideas have come out of this, like having a multitude of Internet-connected sensors that can monitor critical information such as air or sea pollution. Last but not least, the conclusion will provide some insights into the history of the Internet and what is awaiting us in the future, as all humans, and indeed all things, are connected to the global and universal Internet.