History of the Internet
The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net", is a worldwide system of computer networks - a network of networks. It was conceived by the US Department of Defence (Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)) in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET.
The ARPANET aim was to analyse how distributed non-centralised networks function. The aim was to create a network large enough to withstand a nuclear attack.
The Internet Today
Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide and probably the most important technological innovation of our generation.
The Internet uses a portion of the existing telecommunication networks to link computer networks worldwide. The Internet has changed the way people and business transfer data, communicate and even shop, by facilitating services such as ftp, e-mail and online shipping. A major contributor to making this possible is a set of protocols called TCP/IP (for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). TCP/IP enables communication between computers on separate networks possible.
For many Internet users, electronic mail (e-mail) has practically replaced the Postal Service for short written transactions. Electronic mail is the most widely used application on the Net. Applications such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) allow you to carry on live "conversations" with other computer users. And more recently, Internet telephony hardware and software allow real-time voice conversations.
The most widely used part of the Internet is the World Wide Web (often abbreviated "WWW" or called "the Web"). The Web refers to the very large number of graphical pages found throughout the Internet. Web surfers can view and interact with these Web pages from their own personal computer. To access the Web you will need an Internet Access Point, computer and a browser.
The Internet is best visualised as a vast series of bubbles (domains) all touching together. At each point where a bubble (domain) touches another, is a device known as a Router, which allows information to be passed from one bubble to another bubble.
Each piece of information passed along is known as a "packet" and has a destination address (IP address) on it, very similar to an addressed used by a letter sent via the postal service. As a Router receives a packet, it looks at the address, checks to see whether the packet's destination is within the Router's own domain, if not then the Router passes it on.
Each Router has a built in Routing Table, which is a bit like a postcode book, which enables the Router to know were it should pass a packet on to next. Routing Tables are constantly updated, to ensure any new addresses are always known.