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The Internet

What is the Internet?

It is a large number of connected computers (or a large set of computer networks) linked together that communicate with each other, over telephone lines.

It is a worldwide computer network connecting thousands of computer networks, through a mixture of private & public data using the telephone lines.

It is a worldwide (global or an international) network of computers that provide a variety of resources and data to the people that use it.

Internet refers to a global inter-connection of computers and computer networks to facilitate global information transfer. It is an interconnection of computers throughout the world, using ordinary telecommunication lines and modems.

The other names for the Internet are;
  • The Net.
  • Information Superhighway
  • Cyber space.
Internet is a facility that links the Internet users to the actual Internet documents. Therefore, it is a system that links together many kinds of information all over the world.

This technology allows computers equipped with telecommunication links to exchange information freely, and as such, the Internet has enhanced what is being referred to as a global village.

Internet enables companies, organizations, individuals, schools and governments to share information across the world.

A computer on the Internet can be located anywhere in the world. The Internet enables the computer to communicate with any other computer.

History of the Internet

The Internet was started by the U.S Department of Defence in 1969 as a network of 4 computers called ARPANET. Its aim was to connect a set of computers operated by several Universities and Scientists doing military research so as to enable them share research data.

The original network grew as more computers were added to it. By 1974, 62 computers were already attached.

In 1983, the Internet split into 2 parts; one dedicated exclusively (solely/only) to military installations (called Milnet), and the other dedicated to university research (called the Internet) with around 1,000 host computers.

In 1985, the Canadian government developed the BITNET to link all the Canadian Universities, and also provided connections into the U.S Internet.

In 1986, the U.S National Service Foundation created NSFNET to connect leading U.S universities. By the end of 1987, there were 10,000 host computers on the Internet and 1,000 on BITNET.

In 1987, the National Science Foundation leased (acquired/rent) high-speed circuits to build a new high-speed backbone for NSFNET. In 1988, it connected 13 regional internal networks containing 170 LAN's and 56,000 host computers.

The Canadian Research Council followed in 1989, replacing BITNET with a high-speed network called CA*net that used the Internet protocols. By the end of 1989, there were almost 200,000 host computers on the combined U.S and Canadian Internet.

Similar initiatives (plans/projects) were undertaken by other countries in the world, such that by the early 1990s, most of the individual country networks were linked together into one worldwide network of networks.

Each of these individual country networks was different (i.e., each had its own name, access rules, and fees structure), but all the networks used the same standard as the U.S Internet network. So, users could easily exchange messages with each other.

By 1990s, the differences among the networks in each of the countries had disappeared, and the U.S name; Internet began to be used to mean the entire worldwide system of networks that used the Internet TCP IP protocols.

A Protocol - a set of rules and standards that computers use to communicate with each other over a Network.

Features of the Internet

(i). The Internet is a collection of networks; it is not owned or controlled by any single organization, and it has no formal management organization. However, there is an Internet Society that co-ordinates and sets standards for its use.

In addition, Networks have no political boundaries on the exchange of information.

(ii). Networks are connected by Gateways that effectively remove barriers so that one type of network can "talk" to a different type of network.

(iii). To join the Internet, an existing network will only be required to pay a small registration fee and agree to certain standards based on TCP/IP.

The costs are low, because the Internet owns nothing, and so it has no real costs to offset. Each organization pays for its own network & its own telephone bills, but these costs usually exist independent of the Internet.

(iv). Networks that join the Internet must agree to move each other's traffic (data) at no charge to the others, just as it is the case with mail delivered through the International Postal system. This is why all the data appear to move at the cost of a local telephone call, making the Net a very cheap communication media.

Functions of the Internet

The Internet carries many kinds of traffic, and provides users with several functions. Some of the most important functions are:

1. Communication.

Many people all over the world use the Internet to communicate with each other.

Internet communication capabilities include; E-mail, Usenet Newsgroups, Chatting and Telnet. You can send e-mails to your friends anywhere in the world, chat with your friends, send instant messages, etc.

2. Information retrieval.

The Internet is a library. Thousands of books, magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias can be read on the Internet.

3. Easy-to-use offerings of information and products.

You can find information for your school assignments, buy books online, check what the weather is like anywhere in the world, and much more.

David Waithera

David Waithera has a passion of sharing knowledge. He holds Bsc in Computer Science from Kisii University, Kenya.

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