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Dr. Sarah Robey

From the Cold War to the Cloud: A History of the Internet

Access to the internet has become an indispensable part of our modern lives. Many of us struggle to remember a time before smart phones, .gifs, or Snapchat. But how did this come to be? How did the internet become so ubiquitous in our lives? In this talk, I will discuss the internet's growth and evolution over the past 50 years. Like many of the technologies we use every day, the internet got its start as a Cold War defense project. However, its uses soon expanded well outside the realm of defense research, giving average people the opportunity to connect in a variety of new ways. This story of technological change over time gives us a way to make sense of today’s interconnected, globalized world, while also showing us how the Cold War still shapes our lives, nearly 30 years after its conclusion.

State Standards

This presentation meets the following state education standards for high school students:

Social Sciences

World History and Civilization

6-9.WHC.1.8.1 Find examples of how writing, art, architecture, mathematics, and science have evolved in civilizations over time.

6-9.WHC.5.1.2 Explain the global consequences of major conflicts in the 20th century, such as World War I; World War II and the Holocaust; and the Cold War.


U.S. History II

9-12.USH2.1.1.1 Analyze ways in which language, literature, the arts, traditions, beliefs, values, and behavior patterns of diverse cultures have enriched American society.



Information and Communication Technology


ICT9-12.2.a Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.