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Historical Foundations of the Internet

Strategic Cybersecurity, Module 3

Strategic Cybersecurity, Module 3: Historical Foundations of the Internet.

This lecture offers a historical perspective of the development of the Internet, describing events that led to the rise of the Internet. These events include the development of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), The Manhattan Project, and ARPANET.

The Objectives

Once you have completed the readings, lecture, activity, and assessment, you will be able to articulate

  • How the Soviet Union's space program contributed to the establishment of ARPA
  • Articulate the fundamental reason for the creation of the ARPANET.

As an old proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and the crucible of war has certainly resulted in extraordinary inventions. This is clearly true of the modern digital programmable computer and, to a lesser extent, the development of the internet.

The Brief History of The Internet

This lecture provides a brief history of events that led to the rise of the Internet. Half a century ago, in 1957, Russia launched the world's first Earth-orbiting satellite, Sputnik.

This small aluminum satellite, containing only a battery pack and a radio transmitter, had one function, to beep a continual light radio signal back to Earth. For several weeks Sputnik was visible over the United States and in some parts was even seen at night.

This presence both captivated and frightened the American public, resulting in fears of a science gap with Russia, and blame towards president Dwight D. Eisenhower for being asleep at the switch.

Advanced Research Projects

Little did the public know at the time that Eisenhower was undertaking a classified project of initiating our own satellite research efforts. In 1958, he created the Advanced Research Projects Agency or ARPA.

ARPA's mission was to essentially ensure the primacy of US military technology.

If your knowledge of history is good, you may also recall that the first nuclear weapon was developed during world war II, at an interdisciplinary research effort codenamed The Manhattan Project. This project was highly successful. After the war ended, military leaders sought to establish an organization that would have the same success and innovations in other areas critical to defense.

RAND researcher

With this in mind, the RAND corporation was found to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. In the early 1960s, RAND researcher, Paul Baran, devised a distributed communication system that would allow communication networks to survive multiple nuclear blasts. This technology evolved into packet switching which we will look at in a later module.

The creation of ARPANET

In the late 1960s, using research from Baran, computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider, and others. ARPA devised ways to connect individual computers so that they could share information. This effort resulted in the creation of ARPANET, which laid the foundation for the internet as we know it today.

This has been a brief look at the key events that led to the development of the internet.

View the following video: The Internet: Invented for Nuclear War? To discover even more about this fascinating history.

Quiz question 1: According to Singer and Friedman, what technology makes the Internet different from older forms of electronic communication, such as the telegraph and telephone networks?

A. Circuit switching.

B. Use of radio waves.

C. Packet switching.

D. Central network operators.

The answer is C. Packet switching.

Quiz question 2: How did the launch of the Soviet Union's Sputnik satellite contribute to the development of the internet?

A. It led to the creation of the National Security Agency (NSA).

B. It led to the creation of the Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA).

C. It motivated U.S. congressional leaders to fund advanced computer research.

D. It led to the creation of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The answer is B. It led to the creation of the Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA)

Quiz question 3: According to the Naughton article, which of the following best describes the fundamental reason behind the creation of the ARPANET?

A. It allowed the U.S. military to have better surveillance of Soviet military movements.

B. It allowed U.S. scientists to more quickly develop countermeasures to Soviet propaganda.

C. It enhanced the ability of U.S. scientists to share computer resources.

D. It supported Radio Free Europe operations in Poland.

The answer is C.

It enhanced the ability of U.S scientists to share computer resources. The activity for this module asks that you build a presentation, using a tool like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote and save as a PDF file, explaining how the launch of Sputnik contributed to the development of the early internet. Include photos of Sputnik, Paul Baran, J.C.R. Licklider, and other important figures involved in the creation of ARPANET. Ask older family members who may recall Sputnik's orbit, about their memories, including whether they feared the Soviet technology.

Go to: Module 4: The Bureaucracy of Cyber Conflict.

Strategic Cybersecurity” by Augusta University is licensed under CC BY 4.0 / Original video transcribed and re-structured.


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