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The Internet protocol suite came from work done by DARPA in the early 1970s. After building the pioneering ARPANET, DARPA started work on a number of other data transmission technologies. In 1972, Robert E. Kahn was hired at the DARPA Information Processing Technology Office, where he worked on both satellite packet networks and ground-based radio packet networks, and recognized the value of being able to communicate across them. In the spring of 1973, Vinton Cerf, the developer of the existing ARPANET Network Control Program (NCP) protocol, joined Kahn to work on open-architecture interconnection models with the goal of designing the next protocol for the ARPANET.
By the summer of 1973, Kahn and Cerf had soon worked out a fundamental reformulation, where the differences between network protocols were hidden by using a common internetwork protocol, and instead of the network being responsible for reliability, as in the ARPANET, the hosts became responsible. (Cerf credits Hubert Zimmerman and Louis Pouzin (designer of the CYCLADES network) with important influences on this design.)
With the role of the network reduced to the bare minimum, it became possible to join almost any networks together, no matter what their characteristics were, thereby solving Kahn's initial problem. (One popular saying has it that TCP/IP, the eventual product of Cerf and Kahn's work, will run over "two tin cans and a string", and it has in fact been implemented using homing pigeons.) A computer called a gateway (later changed to router to avoid confusion with other types of gateway) is provided with an interface to each network, and forwards packets back and forth between them.
The idea was worked out in more detailed form by Cerf's networking research group at Stanford in the 1973-74 period. (The early networking work at Xerox PARC, which produced the PARC Universal Packet protocol suite, much of which was contemporaneous, was also a significant technical influence; people moved between the two.)
DARPA then contracted with BBN, Stanford, and the University College London to develop operational versions of the protocol on different hardware platforms. Four versions were developed: TCP v1, TCP v2, a split into TCP v3 and IP v3 in the spring of 1978, and then stability with TCP/IP v4, the standard protocol still in use on the Internet today.
In 1975, a two-network TCP/IP communications test was performed between Stanford and University College London (UCL). In November, 1977, a three-network TCP/IP test was conducted between the U.S., UK, and Norway. Between 1978 and 1983, several other TCP/IP prototypes were developed at multiple research centres. A full switchover to TCP/IP on the ARPANET took place January 1, 1983
In March 1982,the US Department of Defense made TCP/IP the standard for all military computer networking. In 1985, the Internet Architecture Board held a three day workshop on TCP/IP for the computer industry, attended by 250 vendor representatives, helping popularize the protocol and leading to its increasing commercial use.
Today's business markets still rely on this standard internet protocol, and through advancements in IP VPN (virtual private network) technology they have the ability to create secure network connections allowing for increased productivity and more efficient work flows.
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