It’s impressive how the Internet managed to be ingrained in humans’ lives in a very short time. The 1980s look far away from here, but honestly, considering all the previous development needed for the network of networks to exist, it’s not that much. Many people can still remember their life before and after the Internet.
To understand how the Internet works, there’s no way to skip one of the most important chapters in its history: the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS).
How was networking born?
Officially, the Internet started working on January 1, 1983. But as a concept, it appeared in the late 1950s.
On the one hand, government researchers faced a strong need for a solution for sharing their information easily. Computers were really big and heavy. Every time researchers needed the specific data, they had to travel to the computer’s location or to use magnetic tapes for saving the data and sending them via postal service.
On the other hand, the Cold War was on. When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite (1957), the USA felt pushed to respond to the achievement. The American Defense Department looked for alternatives to keep information safe and easily share it in the case of a nuclear attack.
Therefore, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPA, 1958) was founded, and the ARPANET (1969) was created. This is the predecessor of the modern Internet. After years of collaboration with different organizations, the network concept got successfully proved, but it was limited for researchers and organizations linked to the Defense Department.
During the 1970s, more enthusiasts got attracted, and networks started popping up here and there, bringing on a new challenge. All the existing networks operated independently, but there was no way to communicate between them.
TCP/IP solved this and became the standard “language” for networks to communicate (1983). This totally expanded the possibilities for the exchange of information!
History of the Domain Name System.
To connect with other computers and services, people had to type their IP addresses. These long sequences of numbers were perfect for machines to communicate between them. But with every day more available websites, it got hard for humans to memorize several IP addresses like 184.108.40.206 (IPv4).
With networks already interconnected, complexity became another challenge. For instance, mapping of websites was made through a centralized HOSTS.TXT text. With the increase of sites, the file got big too, and the need for a decentralized model emerged.
In 1983, Paul Mockapetris and his team simplified this and created an easier way to use the network – the DNS. Thanks to it, humans could use easy and memorable names for reaching websites (sitexample.com) instead of numbers (220.127.116.11).
It became an Internet standard in 1986. Numbers were kept used by machines, and humans could use domain names. This shaped a sort of directory (database), through which domain names could be associated with its IP address and vice-versa.
The DNS evolved through the years. Some of its key improvements were:
- The NOTIFY. First, secondary servers needed to check frequently for updates. With the NOTIFY mechanism, the master server could save them all these checks and directly inform them when it has a new update to share.
- The incremental zone transfer. Thanks to this, secondary servers could update only the changes instead of updating the complete zone file.
- DNSSEC security extension for protecting users against DNS poison attacks.
The DNS gave structure to the Internet. Almost four decades of existence, and it’s still responsible for the cool experience users have while surfing online.