Networking and the Internet

Visualization of a portion of the routes on the Internet.

Computers have been used to coordinate information in multiple locations since the 1950s, with the US military's SAGE system the first large-scale example of such a system, which led to a number of special-purpose commercial systems like Sabre.

In the 1970s, computer engineers at research institutions throughout the US began to link their computers together using telecommunications technology. This effort was funded by ARPA (now DARPA), and the computer network that it produced was called the ARPANET. The technologies that made the Arpanet possible spread and evolved. In time, the network spread beyond academic and military institutions and became known as the Internet. The emergence of networking involved a redefinition of the nature and boundaries of the computer. In the phrase of John Gage and Bill Joy (of Sun Microsystems), "the network is the computer". Computer operating systems and applications were modified to include the ability to define and access the resources of other computers on the network, such as peripheral devices, stored information, and the like, as extensions of the resources of an individual computer. Initially these facilities were available primarily to people working in high-tech environments, but in the 1990s the spread of applications like e-mail and the World Wide Web, combined with the development of cheap, fast networking technologies like Ethernet and ADSL saw computer networking become ubiquitous almost everywhere. In fact, the number of computers that are networked is growing phenomenally. A very large proportion of personal computers regularly connect to the Internet to communicate and receive information. "Wireless" networking, often utilizing mobile phone networks, has meant networking is becoming increasingly ubiquitous even in mobile computing environments.


Cray designed many supercomputers that used heavy multiprocessing.

Some computers may divide their work between one or more separate CPUs, creating a multiprocessing configuration. Traditionally, this technique was utilized only in large and powerful computers such as supercomputers, mainframe computers and servers. However, multiprocessor and multi-core (multiple CPUs on a single integrated circuit) personal and laptop computers have become widely available and are beginning to see increased usage in lower-end markets as a result.

Supercomputers in particular often have highly unique architectures that differ significantly from the basic stored-program architecture and from general purpose computers.[13] They often feature thousands of CPUs, customized high-speed interconnects, and specialized computing hardware. Such designs tend to be useful only for specialized tasks due to the large scale of program organization required to successfully utilize most of a the available resources at once. Supercomputers usually see usage in large-scale simulation, graphics rendering, and cryptography applications, as well as with other so-called "embarrassingly parallel" tasks.