Contents

  1. The Sputnik Scare
  2. The Birth of the ARPAnet
  3. “LOGIN”
  4. The Network Grows
  5. The World Wide Web

Unlike technologies such as the light bulb or the telephone, the internet has no single “inventor.” Instead, it has evolved over time. The internet got its start in the United States more than 50 years ago as a government weapon in the Cold War. For years, scientists and researchers used it to communicate and share data with one another. Today, we use the internet for almost everything, and for many people it would be impossible to imagine life without it.

The Sputnik Scare

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first manmade satellite into orbit. The satellite, known as Sputnik, did not do much: It relayed blips and bleeps from its radio transmitters as it circled the Earth. Still, to many Americans, the beach-ball-sized Sputnik was proof of something alarming: While the brightest scientists and engineers in the United States had been designing bigger cars and better television sets, it seemed, the Soviets had been focusing on less frivolous things—and they were going to win the Cold War because of it.

After Sputnik’s launch, many Americans began to think more seriously about science and technology. Schools added courses on subjects like chemistry, physics and calculus. Corporations took government grants and invested them in scientific research and development. And the federal government itself formed new agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), to develop space-age technologies such as rockets, weapons and computers.

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