NSFNET stands for the National Science Foundation Network. It was formed to afford researchers in academia the opportunity to utilize super-computers. The network was integral to the success of the internet in the early 90’s. Before it became NSFNET, the National Science Foundation, its predecessor sponsored CSNET in 1979. It was after this experience that NSFNET was developed to address the inability to link universities computer science departments to ARPANET with CSNET.
In an effort to drive this interconnectivity, the Foundation began with sponsoring the development of five super-computer centers and focused on having these computer centers merge, providing free network access. NSFNET’S protocol was able to be used with the central support ARPANET to which the targeted academic networks were connected. Network Traffic underwent significant growth spurts over the next couple of years which facilitated the upgrade from kilobytes to megabytes. With these initial steps NSFNET provided the needed balance between two extremes; the US Dod’s version of the internet and its broader commercialized version. It pioneered the development of crucial elements of the internet, such as Border Gateway Protocol; which helped NSFNET separate the learnt routes of ARPANET from those associated with regional networks. After this stepping stone the internet became an interconnected and interwoven network, a big jump from single core architecture of earlier years. NSFNET transitioned again to using internet traffic is exchanged using network access points.
In order to manage the change process effectively in the 90s, NSFNET implemented a usage agreement which interested parties had to sign and agree in order to benefit from internet resources. Merit Network Inc became administrator for the NSFNET during its early years as a non-profit corporation ruled by public Universities. NSFNET saw rapid developments in subsequent years via the collaboration of the universities involved and in an effort to document the developments the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Internet was written by Ed Krol network manager. The guide provided vital assistance to NSFNET users.
In the 90’s after ARPANET was dissolved, the responsibility of managing the research network was given to the NSFNET. The networks expanded its reach and size throughout the United States among academic and research institutions as well as those networks in Europe and Canada. Pressure began to mount as the network expanded to permit commercial use of its network. This was not allowed by the NSFNET management. However, a number of networks were established to manage and monitor the demands for commercial activities which led to almost all the province research associations revolving around commercial bodies. The Commercial Internet Exchange Association was created by PSINet, AlterNet and CERFnet to endorse the commercial use of internet networking.