And then there was TCP/IP
The original host-to-host communications protocol for ARPANET was Network Control Protocol (NCP). As ARPANET grew, NCP proved not to be up to the job of keeping things moving and in 1974, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was implemented for the end-to-end network communication of ARPANET. An issue with the design of TCP was that intermediate gateways, such as routers, had to deal with an end-to-end protocol. So in 1978 a new design split responsibilities between a pair of protocols; the new Internet Protocol (IP) for routing packets and device-to-device communication (i.e., host-to-gateway or gateway-to-gateway) and TCP for reliable, end-to-end host communication. As TCP and IP were almost treated as a single protocol, the protocol suite is usually referred to simply as TCP/IP.
The versions of TCP and IP that are used today were developed in 1981. Both protocols have been modified over the years and the next version, IP version 6 (IPv6) was released in December 1995.
Its obvious to see that the Internet was originally envisaged as a communications network primarily between academic, military and government organisations. As we all know the truth has been far different and whilst the dotcom bubble has now burst, the Internet forms an intrinsic part of our everyday business life and for many, their personal life too. The number of Internet sites has increased exponentially. According to Network Wizard's bi-annual Internet Domain Survey the Internet had nearly 30 million reachable hosts by January 1998, which had increased to over 50 million the following year. That was three years ago and so it is anyone's guess on the real number today.
The politics of domain names and IP addresses
With all of those sites, and more added everyday, we have to be able to access them. Anyone who was online in the mid 1990's will remember typing in an IP address rather than a URL for some sites. Whilst the common use of URLs meant that we didn't all have to remember more telephone number style IP addresses, it opened up a whole new controversy in terms of copyright and trademark ownership.
Internet hosts use a hierarchical naming structure comprising a top-level domain (TLD), domain and sub domain (optional) and host name. The IP address space and all TCP/IP related numbers have historically been managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, whilst domain names are assigned by the TLD naming authority, or at least they were until April 1998. Originally, the Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC) had overall control of domain names with regional control passed to local Network Information Centers to non-US domains. The InterNIC was also responsible for the management of the Domain Name System (DNS) which is the distributed database that maps host names to IP addresses.
Originally, Network Solutions operated the registry tasks of InterNIC and had exclusive authority for .com, .net, .org etcetera. In April 1998 Network Solution's license expired; it was extended several times as there was no other agency available to do the job, but then in June 1999 the system opened up for competition. Eventually the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was formed in October 1998 to administer the domain names.
The management of TLDs worked well until the steady commercialisation of the Internet put pressure on the assignment of names. Added to this there started to be the well-known disagreements about trademarks and copyright of domain names. In an effort to increase the number of domain names available, November 2000 saw ICANN release the first new set of TLDs (.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro), which became available in October 2001.
The new TLDs have not resolved the problem of who owns domain names and IP addresses. At the basic level a domain name is owned by whoever registers it but the high demand for recognisable domain names has led to cyber squatting and court cases - as an example the battle for ownership of probably the most in/famous of all domain names, www.sex.com, continues today.
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