A Simple Explanation (we hope!): The Internet is a means by which computers share the information stored on them. Computers are grouped in networks (your Internet Service Provider runs one that you are a part of) - those networks access other networks using various means from a simple dial-up phone line at 56kbps (kilo bits of data per second) to a T3 high speed line at 44.736 mega bits per second.
Computers use internet addresses to find each other. All computers including yours have an IP address. Some computers have a fixed or static IP that does not change and other (mainly ones that dial-up to the internet) have a dynamic IP address or one that changes every time you log on.
The recognisable form is an address like gr0w.com - these are domain names and are used to point or 'resolve' to the IP address of computers that allow people web surfing to view some or all of their files. That's what you are doing right now. Your web browser is resolved to www.gr0w.com.
Domain names allow web surfers to find a computer, access files and interact with the host computers. Those hosts or servers can be anywhere in the world but they have one thing in common: A permanent open connection to the Internet.
Server (or host): Any computer that serves information or files to another on the net. They host the files like this page and serve them when requested by a web browser or other agent.
Client: Any computer (like yours) that is connected to the internet and requests files or information from a server computer.
HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language is pain text or ACSII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) with commands added to it that web browsers like Mozilla, Opera & Internet Explorer can read and understand to format web pages.
The internet is a road system. However, instead of moving people and goods it's a road system for information. All kinds of information in many different forms. Voice information, text information, video information.. all coming under the general term 'data'.
In the same way that people and goods can be moved by road or rail or sea or air, information also can be moved in different ways.
There still are radio networks, telephone networks, TV networks and text networks (like the postal service and couriers). The internet is just another way of transmitting or moving information (data) from A to B.
Like a road system there are private information spaces (like houses or offices), public information spaces (villages, towns, cities) private roads, public roads, and motorways. In the beginning there were no roads at all, just private data spaces (like stand alone computers and mainframe networks of computers in companies or universities).
Like people in villages in the dark ages, communication and travel between the private spaces was minimal. Data stayed put and if it was moved it was in other forms rather than electronic.
In the 60s, academics began experimenting with ways to use the phone system to move data. It was problematic because effectively the phone system was like a Dark Ages road - poor quality. To make matters worse the computers and networks that stored data all spoke different languages. You see the problem.
So the first thing they did was prove that data could move from one computer network, down the phone line and be received by another computer intact. They sent the data in small packets which were electronically signed for by the receiving computer. If one didn’t arrive the receiving computer requested it until it did.
This revolutionary technology was called packet switching. It overcame the problems of the poor quality phone network and made sure that data arrived intact.
The next thing they did was construct a set of protocols or rules that made sure the data was in a specific form. These protocols and sending data using packet switching meant that as long as there was a phone line, no matter how roundabout the route, data would arrive and be understood. It happened for the 1st time in September 1969. Amazing!
The modern internet was born on 1st January 1983. By then many private data networks had been added to the original two that spoke to each other. Networks and the computers within them had been given addresses much like a postal code and house number called an IP number. These numbers were linked to names like gr0w.com which pointed to the IP address. A new set of protocols was introduced in 1983 called Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). They are the protocols used today by all networks and all computers to communicate across the internet.
These FAQs are constantly under revision and will be added to as new questions are asked and new topics come up. Contact us to suggest FAQs or topic for us to write about.
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