Let’s set the scene: it’s 1950’s America, mass media is exploding, rock ‘n’ roll is taking off, and pop culture is really having a moment...
A whirlwind of social excitement is palpable yet, at the same time, a general sense of public angst shrouds not just America, but the whole world as the impact of the Cold War leaves many anxious.
At the height of the Cold War, there existed huge tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, as both superpowers possessed deadly nuclear weapons. There was widespread fear of long-range surprise attacks and, as an act of defense, the US needed to develop a communications system that would resist a Soviet nuclear attack. A communications system based on a computer network would be perfect…
Now, at this point we have two key characters to introduce: The Elliott Brothers. In 1952 the Elliott brothers invented a computer called the Elliott-NRDC 401 (imaginative eh).
The Elliott was a powerful (but hefty) machine, weighing in at around a ton, and spanning up to 10 ft (four meters). It was by no means the slim, portable piece of kit we’re used to using today. And, there weren’t many of them about, meaning you had to travel long distances to use one. (Imagine having to travel for two hours just to send an email!)
This was a problem. Computers were there, but very few had access to them. To solve the problem, a method of ‘time-sharing’ came about, meaning that users could use a series of terminals to access a mainframe computer. But this was by no means a failsafe solution. Pretty soon, engineers and organizations began researching the feasibility of a large scale computer network.
“Large scale computer network” you say?
– Yes, that’s right, something akin to the internet we know and love today, but it’s still got some growing up to do before it reaches the version we’re now familiar with.
So, who invented the internet?
There’s actually not one lone person that we can attribute to the invention of the internet. There were many cooks in this technology kitchen (so to speak).
At the very beginning of the invention of networking technology, research from a variety of scientists and engineers was brought together to form the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (known as ARPANET) – from this foundation other creations then paved the way for the web as it’s known today.