The prehistory of the Internet. Understanding the present of Linux

The prehistory of the Internet

For anyone who knows the history of technology, the evolution of the computer industry is not a surprise. It is following exactly the same steps as that of the electric power generation and supply industry.

In the early days, huge generators couldn't be too far from where it was used. Subsequently, the engineers andThey found a way to reduce its size, lower costs and increase the distance over which electrical fluid could be transmitted.

There came a time when It no longer made sense for each customer to have their own generator. It was cheaper and less complicated to buy electricity from a distribution company.

Cloud computing follows the same principle. There are computers with enormous processing capacities capable of serving thousands of users, and there are users who are not compensated for having ownership of the computing resources they need.

Beyond the concerns about privacy, from an economic point of view every time tIt makes more sense to use cloud services.

And, in the cloud, the king is Linux.

But, to understand how Linux got here we have to know the evolution of the technologies that made it possible

En our previous articles We noted that there were a number of factors that were going to underpin the success of Linux. They are:

  • Linus' decision to release the kernel under the GPL license.
  • The creativity of the developers to incorporate open source tools thus creating the first distributions.
  • The popularization of the CD-ROM as a support for software distribution

Soon some IT solution providers discovered that they could use the new distributions with their customers. They used a new business model based on consulting rather than selling licenses or hardware.

The time has come to introduce the other protagonist of this story; Internet.

The prehistory of the Internet

It all started with the launch of the first artificial satellite in history. The then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics launched Sputnik on October 4, 1957. A decade after World War II had ended and the United States' military strategy was based on deterrence through superiority in armaments. Control of space was an asset that could not be compromised.

President Eisenhower's response was to create the Network of Advanced Research Projects Agencies (HARP). Integrated by lthe brightest scientific minds in the country. Its function was promote scientific research and promote technological advances in all disciplines related to defense issues.

EThis caused a demand for computing resources greater than supply. And since it was not a very popular field of study, specialists were not abundant either.

One of them was Leonard Kleinrock. Kleinrock had a master's degree in electrical engineering and for his doctoral thesis he chose the subject of communication between computers.

Thinking that telephone lines were an inappropriate transmission vehicle, he developed mathematical theories for the transmission of information. He argued that data had to be divided into fixed-length packets to ensure control, precision, and reliability.

At the same time (and without knowing each other) the psychologist JCR Licklider introduced the concept of the Galactic Network.

He imagined her as a global network of computers through which people would interact and share information. A researcher anywhere could access "a universe of data" and run programs on all other computers

Licklider was able to impose his point of view thanks to the fact that he rose to the position of head of ARPA's Office of Information Processing Techniques. It was in that role that he met Larry Roberts, a former Kleinrock lab partner and enthusiast of his theories.

Commissioned by ARPA Larry Roberts and Thomas Marill They worked on the project of establishing communication between two computers. One was located in Santa Barbara California and the other in Massachusetts.

The connection between the two computers across the country It was done at a speed of 1200bps, it was the first wide area network (WAN) communication and it served as a proof of concept.

It also showed that Kleinrock was always right and that conventional telephone circuits were not the proper means of communication.

This story will continue…


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