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The internet has its origins in the early 1960s and was a product of the Cold War.

The US government set up the Advanced Research Project Association (ARPA) to find ways to maintain communication after a nuclear attack.

Paul Baran, of US military think-tank the Rand Corporation, hit on the idea of creating a "fishnet" of computer links allowing information to flow along any path.

The US military authorities shelved the idea but it was the starting point for the internet. The ideas from the ARPA were developed by the universities of Stanford, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Utah which set up the first internet connection in 1969.

E-mail was born and became a major means of communication between the universities. By 1971, 23 computers were directly linked to the net, serving thousands of others.

In 1971 the InterNetworking Working Group (INWG) was formed to lay down a code of conduct. Its chairman was Vinton Cerf, soon known as the Father of the Internet.

In 1973 the net went international with links to University College, London and Norway's Royal Radar Establishment.

The number of computers directly linked to the net rose to 213, rising to 1,000 in 1984, 10,000 in 1987, 100,000 in 1988, 300,000 in 1990, and 1,000,000 in 1992. The figure is now well in excess of 100 million.

n The term internet was used for first time in 1982.