On October 29, 1969, just a few months after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, graduate student Charley Kline sent a message from his computer at UCLA to a computer about 560 kilometers north at the Institute of Stanford Research (SRI).
In a technical sense, that instant constituted the activation of the first two ‘neurons’ on the Internet . The network, called Arpanet, quickly spread to other institutions and became a kind of proto-internet for researchers and scientists. Since then, the internet has not stopped connecting computers and other devices with each other.
Arpanet peaked at around 100 nodes (or connected computers). Today’s Internet is a network of networks comprising billions of nodes around the world. Imagining something like this is too abstract.
To really visualize this expansion, you need to map the territory. Arpanet’s maps were fairly straightforward engineering diagrams, but the scale of the modern internet is too large for a sheet of paper marking a few points and straight lines.
In 2003, however, Barrett Lyon was working as a hacker, and companies asked him the task of removing vulnerabilities from their systems, so he developed mapping tools for the job. Their electronic trackers would track the lines and nodes of a network and report what they found.
The resulting visualization recalled large natural patterns, such as networks of neurons or the large-scale structure of the universe. But it was both more mundane and mind-boggling .
In 2010, Lyon updated its map using a new method. Instead of trace routes he had used in 2003, which were not always accurate, he used a tool more accurate mapping using tables generated route protocol gateway border or BGP (from the English Border Gateway Protocol) , The Internet’s premier system for efficiently routing information. And now, it’s back with a new BGP route-based map from the University of Oregon Route Views project. Only this time the map is moving – it’s a roughly 25-year span of the internet’s explosive growth.
It is a fascinating, almost organic image . But it is also more than that. The colors are assigned to the regions: North America (blue), Europe (green), Latin America (purple), Asia Pacific (red), Africa (orange), and the Internet backbone (white). The lines connect nodes; and the agglomerations of points are Internet providers for public, private and governmental networks (AT&T, Comcast, etc). The middle is the most connected region and the periphery the least.