Research into packet switching started in the early 1960s and packet switched networks such as Mark I at NPL in the UK,[15] ARPANET, CYCLADES,[16][17] Merit Network,[18] Tymnet, and Telenet, were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s using a variety of protocols. The ARPANET in particular led to the development of protocols for internetworking, where multiple separate networks could be joined together into a network of networks.[19]The first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected between Leonard Kleinrock's Network Measurement Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and Douglas Engelbart's NLS system at SRI International (SRI) in Menlo Park, California, on 29 October 1969.[20] The third site on the ARPANET was the Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the fourth was the University of Utah Graphics Department. In an early sign of future growth, there were already fifteen sites connected to the young ARPANET by the end of 1971.[21][22] These early years were documented in the 1972 film Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing.Early international collaborations on the ARPANET were rare. European developers were concerned with developing the X.25 networks.[23] Notable exceptions were the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) in June 1973, followed in 1973 by Sweden with satellite links to the Tanum Earth Station and Peter T. Kirstein's research group in the United Kingdom, initially at the Institute of Computer Science, University of London and later at University College London.[24][25][26]In December 1974, RFC 675 – Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program, by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine, used the term internet as a shorthand for internetworking and later RFCs repeat this use.[27] Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the Computer Science Network (CSNET). In 1982, the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized, which permitted worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks.TCP/IP network access expanded again in 1986 when the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) provided access to supercomputer sites in the United States from research and education organizations, first at 56 kbit/s and later at 1.5 Mbit/s and 45 Mbit/s.[28] Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. The Internet was fully commercialized in the U.S. by 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic.[29] The Internet rapidly expanded in Europe and Australia in the mid to late 1980s[30][31] and to Asia in the late 1980s and early 1990s.[32]The beginning of dedicated transatlantic communication between the NSFNET and networks in Europe began a low-speed satellite relay between Princeton University and Stockholm, Sweden in December of 1988. [33] Although other network protocols such as UUCP had global reach well before this time, this marked the beginning of the "Internet proper" as an intercontinental network.Slightly over a year later in March 1990, the first high speed T1 (1.5 mbs) link between the NSFNET and Europe was installed between Cornell University and CERN, allowing much more robust communications than were capable with satellites. [34] Six months later Tim Berners-Lee would begin writing WorldWideWeb, the first web browser after two years of lobbying CERN management.Since 1995 the Internet has tremendously impacted culture and commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by email, instant messaging, telephony *Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP), two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web[35] with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1-Gbit/s, 10-Gbit/s, or more.The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment and social networking.[38] During the late 1990s, it was estimated that traffic on the public Internet grew by 100 percent per year, while the mean annual growth in the number of Internet users was thought to be between 20% and 50%.[39] This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network.[40] As of 31 March 2011, the estimated total number of Internet users was 2.095 billion (30.2% of world population).[41] It is estimated that in 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunication, by 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.[42]

The Internet is a globally distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. It operates without a central governing body.The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols (IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise.To maintain interoperability, the principal name spaces of the Internet are administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), headquartered in the neighborhood of Playa Vista, in Los Angeles, California. ICANN is the authority that coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers for use on the Internet, including domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, application port numbers in the transport protocols, and many other parameters. Globally unified name spaces, in which names and numbers are uniquely assigned, are essential for maintaining the global reach of the Internet. ICANN is governed by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet technical, business, academic, and other non-commercial communities. ICANN's role in coordinating the assignment of unique identifiers distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body for the global Internet.[43]Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) allocate IP addresses:African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) for AfricaAmerican Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) for North AmericaAsia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) for Asia and the Pacific regionLatin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) for Latin America and the Caribbean regionRéseaux IP Européens - Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) for Europe, the Middle East, and Central AsiaThe National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, continues to have final approval over changes to the DNS root zone.[44][45][46]The Internet Society (ISOC) was founded in 1992 with a mission to "assure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world".[47] Its members include individuals (anyone may join) as well as corporations, organizations, governments, and universities. Among other activities ISOC provides an administrative home for a number of less formally organized groups that are involved in developing and managing the Internet, including: the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), and Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG).On 16 November 2005, the United Nations-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.
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