It would be helpful to provide a brief historical summary of the Internet before jumping into the different means of accessing 'The Net'.
The Internet was developed primarily by Vinton Cerf, an American computer scientist, in 1973 as a part of a United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project managed by American Engineer, Robert Kahn. In 1984, the project was turned over to the private sector and to government research and scientific agencies for further development. In 1993, the Internet was turned over to the public and by early 1995 access was available in over 180 countries and there were over 30 million users. It is expected that 100 million computers will be connected to the public Internet by the year 2000.
The public Internet can be accessed in several different ways: through a LAN, by a host, terminal access or gateway access. A LAN is a Local Access Network where there are a group of computers and other devices that are spread over a relatively limited area and connected by a communications link.
This also allows you to communicate with any other computer on the network. If you access by a host, it is usually done through a LAN or with telephone lines and modems combined with Internet software on a personal computer. Terminal access is usually done by a telephone line and a modem and it is used with terminal-emulation software on a personal computer. This also allows you to interact with another computer that is an Internet host (explained later). Gateway access is similar to terminal access, but it is provided through on-line or similar services or other networks such as Bitnet, Fidonets, or UUCP nets that allow users to minimally exchange e-mail with the Internet.
The Internet is made by...