On January 1st 2013, whilst most of us where suffering from our new year’s celebrations the night before, the modern internet turned 30!
To commemorate this occasion, Google VP and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf – a man who is widely regarded as one of the fathers of the Internet, wrote a blog post reflecting on the day that the modern Internet was born!
Cerf was an integral figure in the birth of the internet as we know it. On the Google blog he explains that for him, it all began back in 1969 whilst working on packet switching communication as part of DARPA’s ARPANET experiment.
At that time, there were various different packet networks being prepared by DARPA including packet satellite and mobile packet radio, however their remained one major problem – there was no common language between the networks.
So in order to address this problem, Cerf and fellow scientist Robert Kahn began developing a new computer communication protocol that was established especially in order to allow connection between the various packet-switched networks.
What they came up with was called the ‘Transmission Control Protocol’ or TCP if you prefer. A little while later, in order to better support the transmission of real-time data, the TCP was separated into two parts, one of which was named ‘Internet Protocol’ or IP. Together the two protocols were dubbed TCP/IP.
DARPA tested the TCP/IP across 3 different networks and it was designated as their new standard. In 1981, another researcher Jon Postel proposed the transition plan to move the 400 hosts of the APRANET over to TCP/IP with a deadline date of January 1st 1983. At this point, all hosts that had not made the move would be cut off. This deadline date, is viewed by many to be the birth of the modern Internet, but for those involved, it was a scary and daunting time.
Cerf states that back then, it was more about relief rather than a “grand celebration” over the birth of a platform that would have such a dramatic impact on our world in the years to come. He explains that at the time, the team working on the TCP/IP switch over had no idea that this project would be so influential in the future! Cerf explains that when looking back, he couldn’t even find a celebratory photograph of the event and that the only visible mementos were the “I survived the TCP/IP switchover” pin badges that were worn by those who went through the “ordeal”!
Now though, looking back at that moment in time, Cerf recognizes it a truly “momentous occasion”, he said;
“On that day, the operational Internet was born. TCP/IP went on to be embraced as an international standard, and now underpins the entire Internet.
It’s been almost 40 years since Bob and I wrote our paper, and I can assure you while we had high hopes, we did not dare to assume that the Internet would turn into the worldwide platform it’s become. I feel immensely privileged to have played a part and, like any proud parent, have delighted in watching it grow. I continue to do what I can to protect its future. I hope you’ll join me today in raising a toast to the Internet—may it continue to connect us for years to come.”