Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

University of Michigan

Internet History, Technology, and Security

University of Michigan via Coursera


Limited-Time Offer: Up to 75% Off Coursera Plus!
7000+ certificate courses from Google, Microsoft, IBM, and many more.
The impact of technology and networks on our lives, culture, and society continues to increase. The very fact that you can take this course from anywhere in the world requires a technological infrastructure that was designed, engineered, and built over the past sixty years. To function in an information-centric world, we need to understand the workings of network technology. This course will open up the Internet and show you how it was created, who created it and how it works. Along the way we will meet many of the innovators who developed the Internet and Web technologies that we use today. What You Will Learn: After this course you will not take the Internet and Web for granted. You will be better informed about important technological issues currently facing society. You will realize that the Internet and Web are spaces for innovation and you will get a better understanding of how you might fit into that innovation. If you get excited about the material in this course, it is a great lead-in to taking a course in Web design, Web development, programming, or even network administration. At a minimum, you will be a much wiser network citizen.


  • Getting Started
    • Welcome to the class. We will first look at the history of the Internet and Web, followed by a look at how the network works and then examine how we secure information on the Internet and Web.
  • History: Dawn of Electronic Computing
    • World War II emphasized the strategic importance of computation, communication, and information. There was unprecedented investment in the development of new technologies during the war. We start with Alan Turing and others at Bletchley Park.
  • History: The First Internet - NSFNet
    • In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a great deal of research done to build the first wide-area packet switched networks for the US Department of Defense. In the 1980s, the first “Internet” was formed to allow academic researchers to access supercomputer resources.
  • History: The Web Makes it Easy to Use
    • The World-Wide-Web was invented in 1990 but it was not an overnight success. But by 1994 - “the year of the web” - the web was being widely used and Internet usage was growing by leaps and bounds.
  • History: Commercialization and Growth
    • The late 1990’s saw the web and Internet used increasingly to revolutionize how business was done. Companies like Amazon were founded and grew very rapidly.
  • Technology: Internets and Packets
    • The Internet is designed based on a four-layer model. Each layer builds on the layers below it. The Link and Internetwork layers are the lowest layers of that model.
  • Technology: Transport Control Protocol (TCP)
    • The Transport layer is built on the Internetwork layer and is what makes our network connections reliable.
  • Technology: Application Protocols
    • With reliable “pipes” available from the Transport layer, we can build applications like web browsers, file transfer applications, or email clients and servers.
  • Security: Encrypting and Signing
    • Using simple examples, we examing how to shield data from prying eyes and make sure that the data was not altered while in transit.
  • Security: Web Security
    • We apply the basic ideas of encryption and signing to who we actually secure the connections that we use on today’s Web and Internet.
  • Final Exam

Taught by

Charles Severance


4.7 rating, based on 41 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 2629 ratings

Start your review of Internet History, Technology, and Security

  • Very interesting overview of Internet history and deep insight of the vision of creators and main contributors of Web's establishment. Not to follow for technical skills but for the historical and conceptual approach of the development of the Internet.
  • I've been working on the Internet since before there was a WWW, so I didn't necessarily expect to learn much, but in fact this was highly informative. The history part was mostly familiar, but it was helpful to have everything laid out clearly on a timeline. The technology and security portions did a great deal to clarify my previously vague understandings of how things work. Dr. Chuck is an excellent instructor: knowledgeable, relaxed, and funny.

    I especially liked the "graduation ceremony" at the end, complete with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance and a graduation speaker. This is the first MOOC I've taken that included a graduation, and it was a nice touch.
  • Very interesting, informative and engaging course. Dr Chuck presents a very relaxed, yet enthusiastic, learning style. The weekly workload wasn't too much, and the extra credit assignments were fun to write and to evaluate.

    The lectures were entertaining and fun to watch, and packed full of information. All of this was presented in very easy to understand terms. I would highly recommend this course to anyone, whatever their background and current understanding of the subject matter.
  • Matt
    This is not a very rigorous course but that does not detract at all from its attractiveness. There are 7 units, 4 on history and 3 that deal with the more technical aspects of how the internet works. Dr. Severance is very involved with this class an…
  • Anonymous
    This class was a good mix of entertaining stories about the history of the Internet along with a little technical information as well. Dr. Chuck does a good job of explaining networking concepts in an understandable way.

    Just to be clear - if you're looking for a really in-depth technical course on networks, this probably isn't it. If you're looking for an interesting class with an introduction to the technical elements though, this is perfect! Even if you already know how networking works, the history and politics behind the creation of the Internet are presented in an interesting and fun way.
  • Anonymous
    Fun course with some really interesting interviews with the actual people involved with creating the technology. I was disappointed that the history didn't carry on a bit further into the future with the advent of Google, server side scripting like php etc. I hope that Dr Chuck keeps collecting video interviews to expand the timeline further into the future :)

    The technical aspect is very simple, great as an intro but perhaps a little too simple for anyone with a CS related background.
  • Profile image for Steven Black
    Steven Black
    This course is truly fascinating when you considering the impact the world wide web has had on society. This course mainly follows the development of the internet from a file-sharing protocol to what it is today. It does involve some networking concepts though. Networking can be hard but understanding how everything works is truly rewarding.
  • Anonymous
    Dr. Chuck is an amazing professor; he makes material accessible to students of any level and I learned a ton-- I definitely have a better grasp of internet history.
  • Anonymous
    Dr. Chuck is awesome…(one of the best MOOC teachers out there) and the class is interesting and informative. Highly recommended!
  • Anonymous
    I've learned a lot from this course. Dr Chuck is a wonderful teacher. And he is very kind.
  • Anonymous
    It was quite interesting even for an internet professional like me.
  • Helga Maria Saboia Bezerra
    Excellent course! I think that this is a MUST course.
  • Jose Luis F F C Borges
    Very good course. Great instructor. Highly recommended.
    It is truly beginner level, so as one that have already studied Internet protocols (in the early 90's) I feel that I didn't learn many new things, but it was fantastic as a recap.
    The interviews with Internet pioneers were very insightful.
  • Profile image for Syed Wajahat Hussain Kazmi
    Syed Wajahat Hussain Kazmi
    Great course. The way we approaches the course, starting from the history (a detailed view is provided), and then to the actual technology, is great. Loved the course and would recommend it to all people who want to know about the Internet, its history, working and all related aspects.
  • Profile image for Lena Kovaleva
    Lena Kovaleva
    I made another dream come true - I've finished another Dr.Chuck's course! It appeared to be a lot better than I thought it to be. Really enjoyed it. It is useful and thought-provoking.
    Thank you, Dr.Chuck for all this!
  • Abdullahi Muhammad
    This course is one of the courses that help to tackle wrong doing in internet, no matter how Iam interesting in taking and studying this course from the beginning.
  • Chansa Mwaba Makule
    This has taken just few minutes to study and enjoy the studies so far. I intend to study more and know more about the internet security and many other things.
  • Yousef Abdullah Hussein Al-Thawani
    I love studying this roller-coaster why it will not be a wonderful addition to life and it will be an addition to one of the best universities in the world
  • Profile image for Aziz Nasser
    Aziz Nasser
    This class gives you a good basic understanding of how the internet works, even if you do not have a background in this field.
  • Michael

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.