Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA created the internet as a way to defend against nuclear war. The idea was to have about 100 mainframe computers in the U.S. in various cities in order to have mass redundancy. This redundancy (100 copies of the same information) would allow the government to function even if 1 or more cities were permanently gone in a nuclear holocaust.So, for example, even if 99 of the largest cities in the U.S. were permanently destroyed by nuclear blasts as long as you had 1 of these computers still functioning, all the information needed by the U.S. Government to keep on functioning would still exist and then in whatever cities remained the infrastructure could be rebuild from the existing information.
However, then universities liked the idea of some of the elements of this system and began communicating which created something like Email or Text messages between scientific research facilities in major U.S. research university facilities. Then this expanded eventually between all research facilities worldwide that wanted to share information between scientists and researchers.
At this point Steven Jobs was building the first Apple computer with STeve Wozniak and Bill Gates bought a program from a company in Pacific Grove, California that he turned into MS DOS which evolved slowly into windows programs. This combination of events eventually created the internet from here into what it is today. But without government research to create DARPANET to protect the U.S. from nuclear attack none of the rest could have happened.
So, I guess it could be said that the U.S. government created the basic elements for the Internet to exist and then universities and then private enterprise and the public buying into the Internet did the rest.
At a certain point I was one of the earlier people to use the Internet. I believe at that time (in the early 90s) it started out with Netscape and Yahoo. At first that was all there was to surf on the Internet and then you were either using an IBM or IBM clone or you were using an Apple product at that time. Since it was less expensive at that time I bought an IBM Clone AT in Silicon Valley direct from a manufacturer as well as an Epson printer. I think both of them together at that time cost somewhere between $2500 to $3000 for both of them at that time. It was difficult at the time for most people who weren't techies to master MS DOS or Netscape or Yahoo and I was one of the first people I knew who could actually do it at the time because I had had a background in college in programming languages like COBOL, FORTRAN, and I also taught my kids the BASIC language so they could write their own game programs on the TRS-80 from Radio Shack that I bought for $800 in 1978. So, since I started working with IBM mainframe computers and punch card peripheral equipment starting in 1966 when I was 18 I watched all this happen in real time. And since the microchip wasn't publicly at least invented until the early 1970s and since RAM or random Access memory wasn't available also to the public until the 1970s at the earliest it wasn't possible to create micro computers (home PC's) until both these events create RAM and computer chips cheap enough for the public to afford to buy before the Internet became a practical reality for anyone.
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