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The Internet
by John Anthony

The Internet literally means 'a network of networks.' The networks can be just a few computers connected together in an office in what's called a Local Area Network (LAN), or many millions connected to the Internet through an Internet Service Providers (ISP) like AOL.

Every host (computer or device) on the Internet device has it's own unique 32-bit IP address, which is made up of two parts: network and host. The network part defines the network the computer is on and the host part is the exact address of the computer (host) within that network. No two hosts can have the same IP address, just like no two postal mailboxes can have the same address. If they did, it would create big problems.

The Internet address space defined by IPv4 is running out of space. IPv6 was developed to fix this. Learn more.

Domain Names
Instead of long numeric IP addresses, domain names are often used to identify and link to web sites. The domain name of our web site is and it's IP address Entering either one in the address section of your browser would link you to our web site.

Most personal home computers are not part of a LAN and do not have their own domain name server. Instead they connect to the Internet through ISPs (Internet Service Provider) like AOL or Earthlink.

Internet Connections
The networks that form the Internet are not directly connected together. Devices called routers are used to connect networks together. Copper or fiber optic cables are used to connect all these elements together.

Messages in the Internet are routed much like letters in the postal system. Each intermediate station along the way uses the destination address to route the letter to the next post office or mail depot on the route to the destination address. This process continues from station to station until it finally arrives at the destination address.

As messages move through the Internet, routers along the way use the IP address to determine how each message should be routed, so that it keeps moving to other routers that are on the path to the final destination. Routers receive and route millions of messages per second. For the most part the messages carry data. The Internet is being tuned to effectively handle digitized voice messages that will have the phone line quality we are accustomed to.

History of the Internet
What we know today as the Internet, had its beginnings as the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NET). It was developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the early 1970s. It was intended to connect a relatively small number of government, business and university sites together, so they could share information.

The word Internet is derived from IP which is a part of TCP/IP which stands for Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. TCP/IP are protocols (orderly methods) that enable devices to communicate with each other.

The Internet as we now know it today, didn't appear until about 1995. Before then, there were vital pieces of technology not yet been developed for PCs that enabled them to access the Internet. In the few short years since 1995, the Internet has had a tremendous impact on the way we communicate. Our work, play and commerce have all been affected.

In business today the connection to the Internet is no longer an option. Without it, the products and services of a business are not readily available to the buying public. Information about any subject exists on computers called servers somewhere in the Internet.

The World Wide Web, Servers and Browsers
The Internet is all the communications equipment, cabling and protocols that connect computers together.

The World Wide Web can be considered the endpoints of the Internet. These endpoints (computers) either serve or request web pages. A protocol called http (hyper text transport protocol) is used to send and receive pages across the Internet.

Each computer on the Internet runs one of two types of software. Computers with server software, serve web pages to computers called browsers, that request web pages. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator are examples of browser software.

When you enter a web address in your browser and send it, the server at the web site receives the request and responds by sending your browser the requested web page.

Once your browser has received the first (home) web page from a server, other web pages from the web site are served to your browser as you click on links (addresses to other web pages) on the home page.


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