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International Internet Day: The Relevance of the Internet in Our Lives

On October 29, the world will once again celebrate International Internet Day. The Internet is one of human history’s most important inventions and a tool that changed people’s lives in almost all parts of the world.

The Internet is not a single invention. It became possible due to the multitude of immense inventions done before it. The international event honors the first electronic message sent by a student programmer on October 29, 1969.

The International Internet Day celebration started on October 29, 2005. The Association of Internet Users (AIU), a membership organization, promotes the celebration. It was established by Prof. John Laprise to empower Internet users and give them a platform to express their views on using the Internet.

A look into the history of International Internet Day

The International Internet Day celebrates the first time an electronic message was successfully transmitted between two remote computers. It occurred on October 29, 1969, with Charles S. Kline, a student programmer supervised by Prof. Leonard Kleinrock, sent a message from SDS Sigma 7, a host computer located at University of California, Los Angeles, to SDS 940, a host computer at Stanford Research Institute at Menlo Park in California. The institute is known today as SRI International.

The development of the mathematical theory regarding packet switching and making two computers interact with one another through a network, were the works of Prof. Leonard Kleinrock, an American computer scientist. His work was the forerunner of the Internet.

At that time, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a government agency, provided funds for computer research at various universities in the U.S. The agency believed it would be more efficient if the different institutions could share computer resources through a network funded by ARPA.

This led to the formation of ARPANET, headed by the group of Prof. Kleinrock. The network had four computers; wherein two were involved in the transmission of the first electronic message. The other two computers are at the University of Utah and the University of California-Santa Barbara.

The first message was to be LOGIN. The first two letters, L and O, were sent, but the connection crashed.

It took about one hour to restore the transmission, and Charles Kline finally sent the rest of the letters to Bill Duvall, who was monitoring SDS 940.

Who invented the Internet?

It will be difficult to give credit to a single person for the invention of the Internet. The system and its technology resulted from the numerous pioneering studies and research of several engineers, programmers, and scientists.

Before the existence of technology to build the Internet, various scientists were already thinking of having information networks worldwide. In the early 1900s, Nikola Tesla thought of the idea of having a wireless system for the world. In the 1930s and the 1940s, two visionary thinkers, Vannevar Bush and Paul Otlet, had ideas about searchable, mechanized storage systems of media and books.

Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (J.C.R. Licklider) from MIT, an American computer scientist and psychologist, was another contributor. He’s behind the idea of an intergalactic network of computers and foresaw modern-style interactive computing and its various applications. Many refer to Licklider as Johnny Appleseed of computing.

Soon after, computer scientists created the packet switching concept and a means to transmit electronic data effectively. The basis for the data transfer today in the packet switching method was developed several years back.

The credit for the invention of Internet communication protocols used today goes to two computer scientists, Robert Khan and Vinton Cerf. In 1980, they developed the data transfer guidelines using packet switching. The guidelines are called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol).

The first part of the guideline or the TCP takes charge of packing the data before it travels across the network and unpacking the data upon arrival. The IP part serves as the coordinator of the data travel. It maps the movement of data from its starting point to its destination.

The experiment of Prof. Kleinrock demonstrated the possibility of using a single network between two computers. The TCP/IP guidelines provided the keystone for a huge system of interconnected networks called the Internet.

To sum it up, here are people credited for the development of the Internet:

  • Leonard Kleinrock – development of packet switching
  • Larry Roberts – designing the ARPAnet
  • Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn – the creation of the TCP/IP
  • Raymond Tomlinson – development of email
  • Paul Mockapetris and John Postel – the creation of the domain name system
  • Barry Shein – the provider of the first commercial Internet service
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee – creator of the hypertext markup language (HTML) and inventor of the World Wide Web

Top 5 countries with the highest number of Internet users

Today, you can safely say that people cannot live without using the Internet. And the users in many countries run in the millions. According to the latest data available from Statista and Internet World Stats, the top 5 countries with the most number of Internet users as of December 2019 include:

  1. China – 854 million
  2. India – 560 million
  3. United States – 313.32 million
  4. Indonesia – 171.26 million
  5. Brazil – 149.06 million

In descending order, here are the rest of the countries that make up the top 20 list.

  1. Nigeria – 126.08M
  2. Japan – 118.63M
  3. Russia – 116.35 M
  4. Bangladesh – 94.2
  5. Mexico – 88M
  6. Germany – 79.13M
  7. Philippines – 79.0M
  8. Turkey – 69.11M
  9. Vietnam – 68.54M
  10. Iran – 67.6M
  11. United Kingdom – 63.54M
  12. France – 60.42M
  13. Thailand – 57.0M
  14. Italy – 54.8M
  15. Egypt – 49.33M

From the list, you can see that it does not matter whether the country is developed or still developing. The users’ reasons for using the Internet are the most crucial considerations. For example, China has the most number of Internet users, despite the existence of government censorship and government ownership of Internet providers.

The Chinese government also bans access to various websites, social media platforms and apps. Chinese citizens in the mainland cannot access social media platforms from the West, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They do not have access to blogging sites, email services such as Gmail, search engines like Google, messaging apps, streaming sites and apps, news websites, cloud storage, etc.

China provides their own sites and services, and Chinese Internet users use the technology to read the news, check their emails, and find the information available in their language because most of the population lacks foreign language skills.

Importance of the Internet today

The Internet opened the world to many people, offering boundless opportunities for communication, economy, business, public services, education, healthcare, innovation and quality of life worldwide.

Businesses worldwide can access and develop new geographic markets and provide products and services to consumers that cannot be reached by their physical stores. The Internet offers consumers worldwide an equal chance to access products and services that were not accessible before.

The Internet helps businesses sell more products and reduce costs. They can follow trends, understand what their competitors are doing, and create new and better products. They can securely manage their administrative and financial operations and procedures online.

The Internet benefits education by making information readily available. It allows for faster information dissemination and data sharing. Educational materials are accessible, and communication among students, teachers, school management and parents becomes easier. It improves the learning and teaching processes and enables distance learning.

For the rest of the users, the Internet improves communication, provides a variety of entertainment, access to various types of information, and alternative means to shop.

In short, the Internet has shaped the habits and activities of modern humans.

Although China ranks first in the number of Internet users, the top language used on the Internet today is still English.

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