A very exciting and intriguing discovery has just been made as a map of the entire internet, as it was back in May 1973 at least, has been discovered with a bunch of older papers from the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The internet as we know it has been around for a very long time now, but many can remember excitingly writing their first lines of HTML code in the early 1990s while designing web pages that were still in their infancy. People would sit in front of their 14.4Kpbs modems and watch the shooting stars magically appear in their Netscape browsers as a connection was slowly but eventually established, and the 56k modem seemed like a revelation when it appeared on the scene in 1996.
Those days seem very far away now as most are so fully ensconced in the world of social media they couldn’t imagine having to wait for a modem to continually dial up a connection as the internet is always “on” to them. But the internet map from 1973 paints a very different picture and shows us a world that we can’t quite imagine now.
In 1973, the World Wide Web went by a different name. It was known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) and it was used in order to connect 42 computers to 36 different nodes in various parts of the United States for the U.S. Defense Department. In 1967, this was called the Eve network.
The original reason for ARPANET was so that individuals would be able to share data for scientific purposes, and these 42 computers connected colleges like MIT, UCLA and Harvard and helped to facilitate the sharing of resources.
Google’s Larry Page once had some interesting words to say about the internet, and they apply just as much to ARPANET in 1973 as they do to the World Wide Web now.
“The internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”
One reason that the May 1973 map of the internet is so fascinating is that things changed swiftly after its creation. The internet went international months later as Science Alert reports, and users in Norway and London were able to get in on the act through a satellite link that gave them access to ARPANET. Another reason people are so excited about this map is because most thought a central map was just a myth. But then along came David Newbury and all of that changed.
David Newbury is the developer of the Art Tracks initiative at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, and he is the man who made the discovery of the 1973 map of the internet thanks to his father’s collection of old papers that he found.
Going through old papers my dad gave me, I found his map of the internet as of May 1973.
The entire internet. pic.twitter.com/0krvYoRGav
— David Newbury (@workergnome) December 10, 2016
The squares on the map show the routers and these were added at around one each month in the early 1970s. The hosts are shown as ovals. On the far left side of the map halfway down you can see a lightning bolt, and this showed that NASA and Hawaii were connected through satellite.
Deane Barker took to Twitter in response to this map and posted his own from 1969 which show the original nodes when it went live.
— Deane Barker (@gadgetopia) December 11, 2016
On December 20, 1990, CERN’s Tim Berners-Lee switched on the very first website, hosted by the World Wide Web. But just imagine, a mere 43 years ago the entirety of the computer network that later became the internet filled just one piece of paper. When you look at the map of the internet from 1973 and think of all of the advances in technology today, what do you think the internet will look like in another 43 years?
[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]