Flashback Friday – 5 Breakthroughs In Computer Network History
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Flashback Friday - 5 Breakthroughs In Computer Network History | IntelliTeK Pty Ltd

Today we take a look back at some of the amazing advancements in computer networking and how some of them have changed the world and the way we live our lives, forever.

The Internet

Developed in the late 1960’s, the Internet originated from the United States’ Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, which later became DARPA). ARPA developed a packet-switching technology which ultimately led to the invention of the Internet Protocol (IP). Typically referred to as TCP/IP, the protocol is the foundation of today’s internet. The Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was developed by Robert E. Kahn and Vint Cerf in the 1970s and became the standard networking protocol on the ARPANET.

In the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies were formed. From 1997 to 2001, the first internet related ‘bubble’ took place in which ‘dot-com’ companies had extremely high valuations of themselves – leading to a market crash. This didn’t however put a halt to growth, the industry quickly recovered and began to grow again.

To this very day the internet has worked wonders for the way we live our lives and do business. From email, to the world wide web, to search engines, to file sharing, to mobile internet, the internet’s development has certainly proved to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in computer network history.


The Router

The router was developed in the 1980’s by a researcher at Stanford University. Bill Yeager’s development of the router originated with the Interface Message Processor and gateway devices used in ARPANET. Stanford IT staff Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner realised the commercial implications of the router technology, developed a revised version of Yeager’s router, and went on to form Cisco Systems in 1984.

The first Cisco router was called The AGS (Advanced Gateway Server) and was shipped out as Cisco’s first commercial multi-protocol router. It supported TCP/IP and PUP, among other protocols. Advancements of the router included its size – routers were reduced to the size of a chip and could take Layer 3 switches. Later megarouters were being developed and Cisco had competition from the likes of Juniper and Avici Systems. The megarouters were designed to support terabit speeds.


Ethernet was invented by Xerox back in 1973 at their research facility in Palo Alto, California.  Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs built the first Ethernet prototype that operated at 2.94 Mbps. After performing further testing, Xerox eventually patented Ethernet in 1975. In 1979, the IEEE came into the picture when it formed a standards committee around Ethernet with the purpose of promoting the technology for mass consumption.

The intentions of Robert Metcalfe and David Boggs were for interconnecting advanced computer workstations and making it possible to send data to one another and also to high-speed laser printers. A major part of this revolutionary change in the use of computers has been the use of Ethernet LANs to enable communication among computers. Combined with an explosive increase in the use of information sharing applications such as the World Wide Web, this new model of computing has brought an entire new world of communications technology into existence.


The Firewall

The first network firewall appeared in the late 1980’s and much of its development was down to one of the first internet viruses, The Morris Worm, which compromised an estimated 6,000 systems in 1988. The first security firewalls (IP routers with filtering rules) were put to use in the early 1990’s. 2004 saw the term Unified Threat Management (UTM) used by companies to market multiple security functions in one single appliance.

Developments of the firewall spanned three generations – using packet filtering, “stateful” filtering and then application layers. Nowadays we have what is called a Next-generation firewall (NGFW), these are defined to have standard firewall capabilities as well as integrated intrusion prevention, application awareness control, upgrade paths to include future information feeds and techniques to address evolving security threats.



In 1985, the technology called 802.11 was made available for use due to a U.S. Federal Communication Commission ruling, which released the three bands of the radio spectrum now used for nearly all wireless communication: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5 GHz. Shortly thereafter the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and the Wi-Fi Alliance (originally called WECA or the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance) were formed to help develop and regulate wireless technology worldwide.

The first version of the wireless protocol’s legacy is now obsolete and would be considered dreadfully slow by today’s standards. It had a maximum data transfer rate of 2 Mbps, or Megabits per second. Most applications created today would not be able to operate efficiently at those speeds.

In 1999, 802.11a and 802.11b were released, and for many years were the standard for Wi-Fi networks. They both operated in the 2.4 GHz range of the radio spectrum, but, unlike 802.11, they were able to transmit data at a much higher rate.

In 2003, 802.11g was introduced as the new standard. This new protocol was designed to combine the best of the previous transmission standards—operating at a maximum transfer rate of 54 Mbps while still allowing for the longer range and lower costs. Most devices that incorporate the (g) technology are fully backwards compatible, allowing the use of all three protocols in one device.

The latest technology, 802.11ac, proved to be another huge leap forward. With the advancements in dual-band technology, data can now be transmitted across multiple signals and bandwidths allowing for maximum transmission rates of 1300 Mbps with extended ranges and nearly uninterrupted transmission.

About IntelliTeK Pty Ltd

IntelliTeK is a managed IT services company in Sydney, Australia. With major vendor relationships and accreditation’s from the worlds leading IT companies including WatchGuard, Microsoft, Trend Micro and Amazon Web Services, IntelliTeK have kept clients happy since 2007. 

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