What is the Internet?


The Internet is a global network of computers that communicate via TCP/IP protocol. While the uncapitalized term "internet" refers to bridged networks in general, the capitalized term "Internet" refers to the global network of networks that is publicly accessible and administratively unmoderated. The Internet is the basis for the World Wide Web, Email, P2P applications, VOIP, and hundreds of other uses. Although the basic data being transmitted in each of these cases may be virtually identical, each case requires special treatment of the data in regard to data integrity, speed, redundancy, and error correction. The success of the Internet is therefore attributed to its flexibility in providing a platform for the differing data protocols and their individual needs.

The roots of today's Internet date back to October 1969, when the US Defence Department's ARPAnet first came online. While this was not the first long-range computer network, it was the first to use packet-switching methods to ensure data integrity, optimized bandwidth utilization, and reliability. This was in stark contrast to the more common circuit-switching methods that demanded a fixed, dedicated path between two communicating computers. However, the TCP/IP protocol was not implemented until January 1983, when the United States' National Science Foundation established their university network. With the introduction of domain names in 1985 and Tim Berners-Lee's invention of the World Wide Web in 1991, the Internet gained public interest. The World Wide Web made possible the publication of documents that could be accessed (and inter-linked) in a simple manner with no need for opening an account on each machine accessed. Additionally, individual users could be given non-administrative accounts on web servers to build your own website which could be globally accessible.

the Internet logo

Today, the most popular uses of the Internet are browsing the World Wide Web and Email communication. Browsing the Web is done via a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer. Email is commonly accessed in one of four ways: POP3, IMAP, hosted exchange provider, or web-based. POP3 and IMAP both require dedicated Email clients, such as Thunderbird or Outlook. Exchange is commonly accessed via Microsoft Outlook, additionlly there are third party implementations of the application. Web-based Email is accessed via the World Wide Web, and thus requires nothing more than a web browser. In order for one to access the Internet, he must connect via a service (or access) provider, called an ISP. While most of the developed world can access the Internet via high-speed broadband connections, many places rely upon comparatively slow dial-up solutions. Also, may new cellular phones come equipped with a web browser and modem interface, and many cellular carriers now provide Internet access.

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