Tubes | Andrew Blum

Summary of: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet with a new introduction by the Author
By: Andrew Blum


From connecting smartphones to emails, Skype, and movies, the internet engulfs our lives daily. The book ‘Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet’ by Andrew Blum explores the internet’s true nature, origin, growth, and how it infiltrated our lives. This summary provides insights into the physical nature of the internet as a web of interconnected hubs and cables in major cities around the world, with thousands of miles of cables beneath the sea. You will learn about the origins of the internet, which started with a few users and academic purposes, and how the creation of TCP/IP allowed rapid growth and connectivity of various networks. Discover why hubs and peering between networks are essential for speed and efficiency.

The Physical World of the Internet

Most of us use the internet daily, yet we don’t understand its physical nature. The internet is a complex network of fiber cables, hubs, and routers spread throughout the world. Information travels as bits of light through these cables, allowing people to access and communicate with the connected information. Internet hubs can be found in buildings that look like they came out of a science fiction movie. The biggest hubs are found in Frankfurt, Palo Alto, London, and Tokyo, while thousands of miles of cables connect continents beneath the sea. Understanding the physical nature of the internet is crucial to appreciating its tremendous impact on our daily lives.

The Fascinating Story of the Internet

The internet started as a small academic network in the 1960s, connecting universities and researchers for quick information-sharing. However, the different programming languages of the networks prevented communication between them, making it challenging to find someone on another network. That all changed in 1983 when TCP/IP became the official language for online networks, allowing them to exchange information and form new connections. The internet rapidly expanded from 15 networks to over 400 in just four years. By 1985, there were 2,000 computers with internet access, swiftly growing to 159,000 in 1989. Today, everyone uses the internet – from businesses selling products and storing data online, to individuals utilizing their smartphones for finances, news updates, and social media. The internet has become a ubiquitous aspect of modern life.

The Power of Network Hubs

The internet has grown rapidly over time, with over 35,000 networks now in place. The more connected a network is, the faster and more efficient it gets. This is accomplished by having interconnected networks, allowing information to travel quicker. Networks need hubs where different companies can store their routers and connect to each other. Internet exchange points are massive buildings where networks can connect their routers to a mainline tube filled with fiber that connects one exchange to another. These hotspots of interconnectivity make it possible for internet users to enjoy increasingly faster internet.

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