We've all heard the urban legend that former American Vice President Al Gore should be credited with the invention of the Internet. Many of us have just brushed this off as a misunderstood quote from the 1990s and moved on. However, this begs the question: What is the history of the Internet?
It seems like the Internet is just this all-encompassing entity that everyone started using more than a decade ago and it has grown to be a crucial part of our daily lives, jobs, academic experiences and so on. But again, many of us don't know much about its origins.
This seems a little ridiculous, as so many Canadians go online almost everyday. In early 2013, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority revealed that 8 in 10 Canadians - equating to more than 27.5 million of us - use the Internet regularly. In fact, the report also noted that each Canadian goes online for about 45 hours each month, more than double the worldwide average, giving our nation one of the largest penetration rates globally.
Since the Internet obviously didn't spring up out thin air, where did it come from? More specifically, what's the history of the Internet as it pertains to Canada, where it's such a necessity for the majority of us now?
The earliest days
According to CBC News, the Internet arose out of a necessity for the United States military to communicate within the corps, no matter where servicemen were stationed. The Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Stanford Research Institute started on this quest in 1967. The first message was sent between University of California Los Angeles professor Leonard Kleinrock and student Charley Kline, who were 600 kilometres apart, in October 1969.
The message? "Lo" was the first term sent online - it was supposed to be "Login," but the system crashed, CBC News explained.
Soon after, in 1971, email was created, and the first virus crippled the system, known as ARPANET, in 1980.
Coming to Canada
The CBC explained that the first real progress of the Internet into Canada occurred in 1985, when Canadian universities were given access to a shared network, NetWorth. The rest is history, as they say.
The Internet as we know it today - or the closest thing to it in the early days - was formed in 1989, when European Organisation for Nuclear Research worker Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, on which 100,000 Internet hosts connected. He also came up with the Internet language HTTP, which we still use in coding today to create websites. Java came along in 1995.
The 1990s were really when the Internet took off, and many developments happened in Canada. For instance, Computer Hope reported that the world's first search engine was created at Montreal's McGill University by Alan Emtage, Bill Heelan and Mark Parker in September 1990. Who knows, something like Google might not be around today if it wasn't for three Canadians and their engine, Archie. Moreover, our government was one of the first to embrace the Internet, with the launch of http://canada.gc.ca/ coming along in 1995.
The quickest, perhaps most important developments came along in the 1990s - that's when we really started to see the Internet connect people all over the world and explode into what we know today. Part 2 in this article series will document the most critical elements that came out of the decade and brought us to where we are today.