Packet Switching

Packet switching is an integral part of how the internet works. Living Internet explains it quite well:

Breaking digital communications into packets gave network technology something to work with. The key idea of packet switching is the division of each communication into individual, equal-sized packets. These packets are then sent individually to their destination through the network, and the entire message is reassembled when all the packets arrive. There are a range of procedures for retransmission of packets that might get lost in the network.


In this instance, each packet is displayed on the computer screen on the right but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. If the file was large, packets 1-4 could be the first of the 5 part file and then the whole thing would be displayed after all arrive and are reassembled.

One of the first papers ever written on Packet Switching was by Robert Metcalfe in 1976. It can be found here.

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