Now that we're all zooming off into cyberspace, it may occur to you to ask how it all began. While most of us became aware of the 'internet' within the past several years, the concept of a set method (or protocol) for data exchange, has been in use since the late 60's. This was when the Department of Defense decided to create a communications system that could survive The Big One (nuclear war). Logic now tells us that nuclear destruction would very likely wipe out the infrastructure supporting this system, but you have to applaud the initiative!
The ARPANET, or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, began to move packets of information among select computers in 1969. By the 1980's, the ARPANET had spawned the MILNET (to transfer unclassified military documents) and had its other functions taken over by the National Science Foundation's NSFNet. The BITNET (Because It's Time Network), mainly served universities in the United States, with sister outfits in Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America.
All of this activity took place in relative quiet, serving those in the military, higher education, and big business. Up until 1990, the majority of the data available on the internet was in text form. With the advent of commercial sites in cyberspace (the 'COM' in 'dot-COM'), the development of graphical content (pictures)became necessary in order for participants to be competitive.
As opposed to text-only, today's internet features audio, video, animations, vibrant color, and interactive components such as feedback forms and guestbooks. The internet also came together on a standard means of developing web content, called HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. Sharing information is done through the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP.
This is just a basic overview of how the internet came into being; lots more is available online or at the library. The purpose of this column is to help you get the most out of your internet experience. As television was once described, the internet can seem like a 'vast wasteland', but it's not! There is, literally, something for everybody!
Editor's note: Anita Davis is a longtime Virgin Islands resident who now resides in Georgia. She is currently a member of MindSpring's Technical Support staff. Your questions and suggestions are welcome! To reach Anita via email, click here.


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