The Internet was first conceived as a "Galactic Network" in a series of memos, written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962.
Licklider envisioned a globally interconnected series of computers through which anyone could quickly access data and programs from any site.
This was "seed" which allowed beginning of a long process of experimentation and development that has evolved and matured Internet concepts and technology we take for granted today.
By 1985, Internet was already well established as a "new" technology that could support a broad community of researchers and developers.
This was made greatly possible by military that fundamentally wanted a "communications" system that could operate even in a wartime environment. Other government agencies also recognized potential of Internet.
And, that communication ability, was beginning to be used by other groups for simple daily computer communications - Electronic Mail, better known to all of us as email.
Our federal agencies shared cost of common infrastructure, such as all important transoceanic circuits which allowed "network" to be truly global. They also jointly supported "managed interconnection points" through which networks connect to other networks and pass on info from one to another.
Perhaps this helped to foster Internet Spirit of FREE exchange of information and ideas.
This concept of FREE is as fundamental to Internet as air is for us to breathe. And for a good many years you were able to get just about anything Internet related for free.