The evolution of the Internet and the birth of TCP/IP
The creation of the protocol suite TCP/IP as the basic set of rules for computers to communicate was one of the last major phases in the development of this global network we now call the Internet.
The internet was not something born of a single idea, but rather a gradual evolution, and the work of many people over many years.
The idea started with a vision to create a decentralized computer network, whereby every computer was connected to each other, but if one member of the systems was hit, the others would remain unaffected.
From the initial idea of a decentralized computer network came the concept of packet switching. During the 1960s Paul Baran developed the concept of packet switching networks while conducting research at the historic RAND organization.
What is a Protocol?
Once the concept of packet switching was developed the next stage in the evolution was to create a language that would be understood by all computer systems.
The network concept of protocols would establish a standard set of rules that would enable different types of computers, with different hardware and software platforms, to communicate in spite of their differences. Protocols describe both the format that a message must take as well as the way in which messages are exchanged between computers.
During the 1970s Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf would collaborate as key members of a team to create TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), the building blocks of the modern internet.
What is an RFC?
The concept of Request for Comments (RFC) documents was started by Steve Crocker in 1969 to help record unofficial notes on the development of ARPANET. RFCs have since become official documents of Internet specifications.
In computer network engineering, a Request for Comments (RFC) is a formal document published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and the global community of computer network researchers, to establish Internet standards.
TCP/IP RFC History
The creation of TCP/IP as the basic set of rules for computers to communicate was one of the last major phases in the development of this global network we now call the Internet. Many additional members of the TCP/IP family of protocols continue to be developed, expanding of the basic principals established by Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf back in the 1970s.
In 1981 the TCP/IP standards were published as RFCs 791, 792 and 793 and adopted for use. On January 1, 1983, TCP/IP protocols became the only approved protocol on the ARPANET, the predecessor to today's internet.
Links to learn more:
Check out our site Geek History where we discuss the evolution of the ARPANET and TCP/IP
Why was the internet created: 1957 Sputnik launches ARPA
When was internet invented: J.C.R. Licklider guides 1960s ARPA Vision
In the 1960s Paul Baran developed packet switching
The 1980s internet protocols become universal language of computers
Vinton Cerf photo by Joi Ito
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