The ARPANET, as it was called back then, was designed by government, industry and academia so scientists and academics could access each other’s computing resources and trade large research files, saving time, money and travel costs.
The network grew exponentially from its earliest days, with the number of connected host computers reaching 100 by 1977, 100,000 by 1989, a million by the early 1990’s, and a billion by 2012; it now serves more than half the planet’s population.
It sounds utopian, but in those early days, we enjoyed a wonderful culture of openness, collaboration, sharing, trust and ethics. That’s how the Internet was conceived and nurtured. I knew everyone on the ARPANET in those early days, and we were all well-behaved. In fact, that adherence to “netiquette” persisted for the first two decades of the Internet.
Today, almost no one would say that the internet was unequivocally wonderful, open, collaborative, trustworthy or ethical.
The growth of the internet was unimaginable by these guys 50 years ago just like we can’t imagine what it will be like 50 years from now but it sure as hell isn’t likely to be “unequivocally wonderful, open, collaborative, trustworthy or ethical.”