Did you notice anything odd with your Internet connection today? Probably not, but the Internet started changing in a big way under the hood, with websites and Internet service providers turning on a new technology to transmit data.
The Internet’s been running on a system that was originally developed 35 years ago as part of an experimental project called ARPAnet in the U.S. Defense Department. That’s when researchers created something called Internet Protocol version 4, or IPv4. [4 Decades of Clever Technology]
A key component of the system was how many addresses it created, since in theory, every gadget on the Internet needs its own unique number, called an IP address, so data can find it. IPv4 created about 4.3 billion addresses — overkill for an experiment, but not enough for a planet. IP addresses started running out about a year ago in some parts of the world.