What is the Internet?

Essay by QaariUniversity, Bachelor'sA, January 2006

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The Internet is a network of networks, linking computers to computers sharing the TCP/IP protocols. Each runs software to provide or "serve" information and/or to access and view information. The Internet is the transport vehicle for the information stored in files or documents on another computer. It can be compared to an international communications utility servicing computers. It is sometimes compared to a giant international plumbing system. The Internet itself does not contain information. It is a slight misstatement to say a "document was found on the Internet." It would be more correct to say it was found through or using the Internet. What it was found in (or on) is one of the computers linked to the Internet.

Computers on the Internet may use one or all of the following Internet services:

* Electronic mail (e-mail). Permits you to send and receive mail. Provides access to discussion groups often called Listservs® after the software they operate under.

* Telnet or remote login. Permits your computer to log onto another computer and use it as if you were there.

* FTP or File Transfer Protocol. Allows your computer to rapidly retrieve complex files intact from a remote computer and view or save them on your computer.

* Gopher. An early, text-only method for accessing internet documents. Gopher has been almost entirely subsumed in the World Wide Web, but you may still find gopher documents linked to in web pages.

* The World Wide Web (WWW or "the Web"). The largest, fastest growing activity on the Internet.

What is the World Wide Web and what makes it work?

The WWW incorporates all of the Internet services above and much more. You can retrieve documents, view images, animation, and video, listen to sound files, speak and hear voice, and view programs...