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History of the Internet: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenna Conan

Jenna is a fourth grade teacher with a master's degree in instructional design and an undergraduate degree in elementary education.

In this lesson you will learn about how the world wide web came to be. Read on to find out more about the history of the internet and how websites were first created.

A Modern Marvel

Can you imagine what your life would be like without the internet? When your grandparents were kids, the internet hadn't even been invented yet! The internet is a relatively new invention that has changed the way people live, work and take care of many of their day-to-day activities. Let's find out where it came from.

The Invention of the Internet

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made rocket to ever go into outer space. This began a race between the Soviets and Americans over space and technology and who would make major discoveries first. As part of this race, the U.S. founded NASA and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and schools and universities added more science, math and technology classes.

U.S. military experts and scientists thought that the Soviet Union might attack the U.S., and were worried about what would happen if the country's telephone system was destroyed. So a scientist named J.C.R. Licklider came up with a solution: a network of computers that could communicate with each other. Then a few years later, ''packet switching,'' a way of sending information from one computer to another, was invented. The first wide-area computer network was built in 1965; it connected a computer in Massachusetts to a computer in California. At this time, one computer was the size of a small house!

An early computer
An Early Computer

In 1969, the network that was now called the ARPAnet delivered the first message from one computer to another. They tried to send the world ''LOGIN,'' but only two letters were sent before the system crashed. But by the end of 1969, four computers were connected to the ARPAnet.

In 1972, the ARPAnet was first introduced to the public when its use was demonstrated at the International Computer Communication Conference (ICCC). The same year, electronic mail (e-mail) came out. Throughout the 1970s, the ARPAnet continued to grow and add other computer networks from around the world. In the 1980s, scientists and researchers used computers to send information to each other. But most people still did not use the internet.

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