Why the Internet of the Future Will Look a Lot Like TV

(Photo: Thinkstock)
(Photo: Thinkstock)

Almost half a century after the first e-mail crashed the communication link between the computer science department at UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute, the Internet stands at a tipping point.

So how did it get there?

The first time I heard about the world wide network was back in 1986, from an instructor in an undergraduate elective course I took called Introduction to COBOL Programming.

The instructor had been a systems analyst in the U.S. Air Force, and it was there that he’d learned about a research project begun in the late 1960s by the Advanced Projects Research Agency, a skunkworks unit of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The goal of that project was to build a redundant, decentralized data network that could survive multiple points of failure in the communication infrastructure over which it ran.

While it was first used by computer science academics to send each other code and e-mails — and soon of interest to military leaders worried about an enemy nuclear missile strike — it wasn’t long before a much wider swath of people realized it could do much more.

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SOURCE: John Shinal
USA TODAY

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