The History of Web Hosting – A Galactic Network
It may interest you to know that before 1991 web hosting as you know it today did not exist.
Then again, you probably wouldn’t recognize the internet before 1991, either. But to look at the history of website hosting, you have to look at the history of the internet itself. The internet may be the greatest media advancement since radio and television, but the internet as we know it today is powered by nearly 50 million websites forming its central nervous system.
Without websites, where could you go when you when you went online?
The Early Days
The original concept of the internet has been attributed to J.C.R. Licklider in August of 1962 at MIT. Licklider wrote a series of articles where he envisioned a “Galactic Network” concept based on the idea of a series of globally interconnected computers where resources and information could be accessed from any site.
Licklider was soon to head up ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Computer Sciences program at MIT. There he would convince his successors the importance of his ideas about computer networking.
Interestingly enough, ARPA was developed by the military at the same time as NASA to find a way for the Americans to catch up to the U.S.S.R. in the space race after the launch of Sputnik. The early work on computer networking revolved around a concept known as “packet switching”, based on the idea that network data could be sent through phone lines as tiny packages instead of the traditional solid circuit lines of the day.
That way, the connections would only be used as long as there were packets of information running through them, freeing up space on the line or “bandwidth” for more computer activity. Later, while working on a way to allow telecommunications systems survive a nuclear war, Paul Baran would develop the actual “Hot Potato” design of networking that would lay the foundation for what would one day be the internet. The next step was to get the computers to actually talk to each other.
Is There Anybody Out There?
In 1965, Lawrence G. Roberts and Thomas Merril connected the TX-2 computer located in Massachusetts with the Q-32 computer in California via a dial-up telephone line supplied by AT&T and the first computer network was born. However, the computers were agonizingly slow, communicating at a steady 2.4 kbps.
The lack of speed convinced Roberts and Merril that the solid circuit-switching of the AT&T phone system was terribly inadequate and Baran’s packet switching method was the only way to go. Amazingly, it was soon discovered that the same work on packet theory had been taking place in three separate places simultaneously without any of the researchers aware of each other.
In 1966 Roberts unveiled his plans for “ARPANET”, the first wide-area network ever developed. In 1969, those ideas turned into a reality when they successfully linked computers at UCLA, The Stanford Research Institute, The University of California Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. Each computer was a “host” or node in the connection, making them all able to interact with one another. Over the next 2 years, they would add 19 more hosts and 13 nodes to their little network.
The internet was a healthy baby, but it still had a lot of growing to do.
You’ve Got Mail!
In 1971 Roy Tomlinson wrote the first basic e-mail program, and it was quickly broadened by Lawrence G. Roberts. With this, researchers could finally send and receive messages over their network.
This would prove to be the biggest development in the internet’s short history; e-mail use has become the backbone of internet communications and is used by hundreds of millions of people every day to connect with each other.
When the researchers integrated the popular program into ARPANET, they made several design modifications before deciding on the “@” symbol for e-mail addresses.
The ‘70s also saw the birth of TELENET, the first commercial version of an internet provider, as well as several other networks. Also, TCP was officially split into TCP/IP in an attempt to unify all of the budding networks that were springing up in North America and around the globe.
TCP/IP stands for Transmissions Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. TCP is the host to host connection used by computers and IP passes the individual packets of information between computers.
The internet was growing, but it was still a very different animal than what we know today.
Coming of Age
The eighties saw rapid growth and development in the computer sciences field. Specifically, the TCP/IP format was first used to tie the ARPANET system to several other networks. The format allowed the networks to access each other while operating individually. Officially, it was the first definition of the term “Internet”, meaning a series of networks linked together by the TCP/IP format.
With all of these new networks and the growth of the old networks, it became necessary for scientists to be able to disseminate between the various sources and institutions. In 1984 the introduction of the Domain Name System, or DNS, became a standard for computers to be able to differentiate themselves from one another. Six domains were introduced: edu (Education), gov (Government), mil (Military), com (Commercial), net (Network Resources), and org (Organization). On March 15, 1985, Symbolics.com became the first registered domain name.
Welcome to the World Wide Web
1991 was an important year in the development of the internet. Already an entity in its own right, it was about to get a lot bigger. It started with the National Science Foundation (NSF) when they decided it was time to lift commercial restrictions on the web. This in turn opened the internet up to limitless commercial possibilities. Electronic commerce was born, and with it came companies who were starting to think there might be a future in website hosting services.
Later that year, the folks at CERN unleashed the World Wide Web (www) onto the world, which incorporated Tim Berner-Lee’s new HTML computer Language. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, and uses specifications for Uniform Resource Locators URLs).
Aside from giving the world a mouthful of new abbreviations to memorize, it also became the universal standard for locating website addresses.
The internet was no longer simply a playground for universities and computer enthusiasts. With each new addition to its format, it became easier to use and easier to explain. At the same time, it grew in complexity. The business world saw the potential of the medium and seized on their chance.
Website hosting, once expensive and complicated, is now cheap and only somewhat complicated. It began with large companies renting out extra space on their servers and has now become big business in itself. There are at least as many companies that offer web hosting as there are companies that provide internet service.
As computers continue to evolve, the internet itself evolves. And with each new change come new changes to the way the business of website hosting is packaged to potential customers.
So where do you want to go today?
About The Author
Bill Schnarr is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing dedicated managed web hosting, dedicated managed web hosting and international long distance. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.
This article on "The History of Web Hosting" reprinted with permission.
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