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Huston Geoff

A Decade in the Life of the Internet


The evolutionary path of any technology can often take strange and unanticipated turns and twists. At some points simplicity and minimalism can be replaced by complexity and ornamentation, while at other times a dramatic cut-through exposes the core concepts of the technology and removes layers of superfluous additions. The technical evolution of the Internet appears to be no exception, and contains these same forms of unanticipated turns and twists.

This article presents a personal perspective of the evolution of the Internet over the last decade, highlighting my impressions of what has worked, what has not, and what has changed over this period. It has been an extraordinary decade for the Internet, encompassing a boom and a bust that would rate among history's best, a comprehensive restructuring of the communications industry, and a set of changes that have altered the way in which each of us now works and plays. And the Internet has even added a few new words to the language on the way.

Rather than offer a set of random observations, I will use the Internet Protocol model as a template, starting with the underlying transmission media, then looking at the internetwork layer, the transport layer, then applications and services, and, finally looking at the business of the Internet.

The Internet Protocol Journal, Volume 11, No. 2