The Online Universe

What can you access using "hypertext transfer protocol?"

And the answer: the World Wide Web.

At the beginning of every web address in your internet browser, you'll see the letters HTTP. The letters stand for "hypertext transfer protocol," which is the set of rules that controls how your browser navigates the network of linked pages, known as the World Wide Web.

Today's internet, in all its high-speed glory, is the culmination of nearly a century of computer science pioneering. Long before the technology existed, many scientists had already anticipated the existence of worldwide networks of information. Nikola Tesla toyed with the idea of a “world wireless system” in the early 1900s, while visionary thinkers like Paul Otlet and Vannevar Bush conceived of mechanized, searchable storage systems of books and media in the 1930s and 1940s.

But it wasn't until the 1960s that the technology began to take off. A method of transferring information called "packet switching" became an essential tool for sending information electronically. A program in the late 60s titled ARPANET, or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, built off this knowledge to allow multiple computers to communicate on a single network. However, its first task to do so was ultimately too ambitious. One computer in a research lab at UCLA attempted to send the message "LOGIN" to another computer at Stanford (each computer weighing in at roughly the size of a small house), but both systems crashed after the first "LO."

The online world then took on a more recognizable form in 1989, when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. While it’s often confused with the internet itself, the web is actually just the most common means of accessing data online in the form of websites and hyperlinks. This was an essential step in the internet's popularization among the public, and since has grown at the hand of tech producers and consumers alike. Today, an infinite depth of information remains available at our fingertips.

Check out the video below to learn more.

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