The gravity of January 1st 1983 continues to slip under the radar for most. Much like Danny Boyle’s nod to Tim Berners-Lee in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, or the work done by Bob Metcalfe in the development of Ethernet technology, the significance of “Flag Day” will be lost on those not familiar with the great breakthroughs made in the development of the Internet over the past half-century.
‘Flag Day’ was effectively the day the internet was born; the day when TCP/IP fully replaced the Network Control Program (NCP) as the core networking protocol for ARPAnet (the predecessor to the internet). TCP/IP ultimately created a common language for inter-network communication; amalgamating the various conventions to allow for disparate networks with their own standards to communicate with one another more efficiently, reliably and securely. In particular it improved on NCP by ensuring that isolated attacks could no longer be capable of bringing down an entire network. It was upon these foundations that Berners Lee was later able to devise the World Wide Web.
Although no one individual can claim to have invented the Internet (with the exception of Al Gore!), Vint Cerf, Robert E. Kahn and the others at ARPAnet responsible for making the switch have stronger grounds than most.
ARPAnet itself was formally decommissioned in 1990, but it’s impressive to think that 30 years on the reason for transition towards IPv6 is that we’ve managed to allocate nearly the entire 4.2 billion addresses TCP/IP was originally designed to support.