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How Can I Learn the History and Development of the Internet?

The first e-mail message was sent nearly 40 years ago, but the Internet's birth took place long before that. Because the Internet has become so prevalent in academia and business, you can study its history and development at a variety of levels, in several academic majors.

Internet History Defined

The Internet got its start in 1958, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a line item in an appropriations bill that would create ARPA, the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (www.webopedia.com). According to the Internet Society (ISOC), defense needs led to research in the 1960s aimed at connecting groups of computers so that users had access to information from any terminal in groups that could stretch across the globe (www.isoc.org).

Getting a historical perspective on the Internet may help you understand and take part in discussions about its future. For example, if you study Internet history, you may learn that its current lack of regulation may stem from one of the fundamental principles for open-architecture networking named by Robert Kahn, one of the writers of the protocol on which today's Internet is based (and one of the authors of the ISOC article).

Today, the study of Internet history takes place within a variety of different disciplines. These include computer science and liberal arts. You can start learning about it as a college freshman, and you may find graduate courses that cover it, as well.

Important Facts

Online Availability Self-paced and fully available online courses
Common Courses Internet History, technology, and security
Possible Careers Web designers, developers, technicians, and website writers
Work Environment 17% of web developers were self-employed in 2019*
Median Salary (2020) $77,200 (for all web developers)*
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 8% growth (for all web developers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Associate Degree in Computer Science

Courses that cover Internet history may be most commonly found in computer science and information technology programs offered by community colleges. The subject is often covered in courses such as Internet fundamentals. It may also be covered in document management and business information technology courses.

Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Computer Science

In a 4-year program leading to a degree such as Bachelor of Science in Information Technology or Computer Information Systems, you may learn about Internet history as part of an overview of the Internet or an introduction to website development. At the master's degree level, it may be covered as part of the study of computer networking.

Other Majors and Degree Programs Covering Internet History

At the community college level, in 4-year programs leading to bachelor's degrees, and in graduate school, Internet history is offered within a variety of disciplines. The subject may be covered in education courses or in library science courses covering Internet fundamentals. It's also possible to study it in courses offered by history or interdisciplinary science departments.