The first two devices ever connected were connected locally within research institutions.  As more and more devices were added, point-to-point connections became unwieldly and increased at a rate of N x (N-1) where N is the number of devices being connected.  Multiplexing schemes became a hot topic with several competing models including token based (lead by IBM) and CSMA/CD Ethernet (lead by Dell, Intel and Xerox) giving rise to Local Area Networks. It quickly became evident that in addition to the local network, sharing data between institutions would be beneficial.  This need gave rise to wide area networking, based on the rule of thumb that 80% of traffic would remain on the local network, and only 20% would traverse the wide area link.  It is only in the last decade that WAN technology, currently able to support terabits per second on a single finer, has surpassed LAN technology in terms of bandwidth.

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