Networking And Communication

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In the early days of computing, computers were seen as devices for making calculations, storing data, and automating business processes. However, as the devices evolved, it became apparent that many of the functions of telecommunications could be integrated into the computer. During the 1980s, many organizations began combining their once-separate telecommunications and information-systems departments into information technology, or IT, department. This ability for computers to communicate with one another and, maybe, more importantly, to facilitate communication between individuals and groups, has been an important factor in the growth of computing over the past several decades. Computer networking really began in the 1960s with the birth of the Internet, as we’ll see below. However, while the Internet and web were evolving, corporate networking was also taking shape in the form of local area networks and client-server computing. In the 1990s, when the Internet came of age, Internet technologies began to pervade all areas of the organization. Now, with the Internet a global phenomenon, it would be unthinkable to have a computer that did not include communications capabilities. This chapter will review the different technologies that have been put in place to enable this communications revolution. In the Beginning: ARPANET ARPA was the center of computing research in the 1960s, but there was just one problem: many of the computers could not talk to each other. In 1968, ARPA sent out a request for proposals for a communication technology that would allow different computers located around the country to be integrated together into one network. Twelve companies responded to the request, and a company named Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN) won the contract. They began work right away and were able to complete the job just one year later: in September 1969, the ARPANET was turned on. The first four nodes were at UCLA, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Utah. The Internet and the World Wide Web Over the next decade, the ARPANET grew and gained popularity. During this time, other networks also came into existence. Different organizations were connected to different networks. This led to a problem: the networks could not talk to each other. Each network used its own proprietary language, or protocol (see sidebar for the definition of the protocol), to send information back and forth. This problem was solved by the invention of transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP). TCP/IP was designed to allow networks running on different protocols to have an intermediary protocol that would allow them to communicate. So as long as your network supported TCP/IP, you could communicate with all of the other networks running TCP/IP. TCP/IP quickly became the standard protocol and allowed networks to communicate with each other. It is from this breakthrough that we first got the term Internet, which simply means “an interconnected network of networks.”

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