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Though it started as a army experiment and also spent the adolescence asa sandbox for academics and also eccentrics, in much less than a decade theworldwide network of computer networks -- also known together theInternet — has matured into a highlydiversified, financially important ar of computer users andinformation vendors. Indigenous the boardroom to your living room, you canbump into net users of almost any and also all nationalities, the anyand all persuasions, from serious to frivolous individuals, frombusinesses to non-profit organizations, and also from born-again Christianevangelists to pornographers.

In many ways, the web — the open community of hypertext-enableddocument servers and readers top top the net — is responsible forthe meteoric rise in the network’s popularity. You,too, can end up being a valued member through contributing: writing HTML andXHTML documents and then do them accessible to web surfersworldwide.

Let’s climb up the Internet household tree to get somedeeper insight into its magnificence, not just as an exercise ofcuriosity, but to help us far better understand simply who and also what it iswe are dealing with when we go online.


Althoughpopular media account are regularly confused and also confusing, the conceptof the web really is fairly simple: that aworldwide arsenal of computer system networks — a network ofnetworks — share digital info via a common set ofnetworking and also software protocols.

Networks space not new to computers. What renders the Internet unique isits worldwide collection of digital telecommunication links thatshare a common collection of computer-network technologies, protocols, andapplications. Even if it is you operation Microsoft home windows XP, Linux, Mac OS X,or also the now old Windows 3.1, when linked to the Internet,computers all speak the very same networking language and also use functionallyidentical programs, so you can exchange info — evenmultimedia pictures and also sound — with someone next door or acrossthe planet.

The common and now quite familiar programs people use to communicateand distribution their occupational over the web have additionally found their wayinto private and also semi-private networks. This so-calledintranets and extranets use the same software,applications, and also networking protocols together the Internet. But unlikethe Internet, intranets are private networks, with access restrictedto members that the institution. Likewise, extranets border accessbut use the net to administer services come members.

The Internet, top top the various other hand, seemingly has no restrictions.Anyone with a computer and also the ideal networking software program andconnection deserve to “get ~ above the Net” andbegin exchanging words, sounds, and also pictures with others about theworld, day or night: no member required. Andthat’s precisely what is confusing around theInternet.

Like an eastern bazaar, the net is not well organized, thereare few content guides, and it deserve to take a most time and technicalexpertise to tap its complete potential. It is because. . .


The Internet started in the late 1960s as an experiment in the designof robust computer networks. The goal to be to build a network ofcomputers that might withstand the loss of several machines withoutcompromising the ability of the remaining ones come communicate.Funding come from the U.S. Room of Defense, which had a vestedinterest in structure information networks that might withstandnuclear attack.

The resulting networkwas a marvelous technological success, but it was minimal in size andscope. For the most part, only defense contractors and academicinstitutions can gain accessibility to what to be then known as the ARPAnet(Advanced research Projects agency Network of the room ofDefense).

With the development of high-speed modems for digital communication overcommon phone call lines, some individuals and organizations not directlytied to the key digital pipelines started connecting and takingadvantage that the network’s advanced and globalcommunications. Nonetheless, that wasn’t until thelast decade (around 1993, actually) that the web really tookoff.

Several critical events resulted in the meteoric climb in popular of theInternet. First, in the at an early stage 1990s, businesses and individuals eagerto take benefit of the ease and also power of an international digitalcommunications finally pressured the largest computer system networks ~ above themostly U.S. Government-funded web to open up their equipment fornearly unrestricted traffic. (Remember, the networkwasn’t designed come route details based oncontent — meaning that commercial message went throughuniversity computers that at the moment forbade such activity.)

True come their academic traditions of complimentary exchange and sharing, manyof the original web members continued to do substantialportions that their digital collections the documents and softwareavailable come the newcomer — complimentary for the taking! Globalcommunications, a wealth of complimentary software and also information: that couldresist?

Well, frankly, the internet was a challenging row come hoe back then. Gettingconnected and also using the assorted software tools, if they to be evenavailable for your computers, presented an insurmountable technologybarrier for many people. And also most accessible information wasplain-vanilla ASCII text around academic subjects, no the neatlypackaged fare the attracts users to solutions such as America Online.The web was just too disorganized, and, exterior of thegovernment and academia, few people had the knowledge or interest tolearn how to usage the arcane software application or the time to spend rummagingthrough documents looking because that ones of interest.


Ittook one more spark to light the net rocket. At about the sametime the web opened up for business, some physicists in ~ CERN,the European bit Physics Laboratory, exit an authoringlanguage and also distribution device they occurred for creating andsharing multimedia-enabled, integrated electronic papers over theInternet. And also so was born Hypertext MarkupLanguage (HTML), internet browser software, and also the Web. No longerdid authors need to distribute their work as fragmented collectionsof pictures, sounds, and text. HTML linked those elements. Moreover,the Web’s systems allowed hypertextlinking, whereby documents instantly reference otherdocuments situated anywhere approximately the world: less rummaging, moreproductive time online.

Lift-off happened when part brightstudents and faculty in ~ the National facility for SupercomputingApplications (NCSA) at the college of Illinois, Urbana-Champaignwrote a web internet browser called Mosaic. Return designed mostly forviewing HTML documents, the software also had built-in tools toaccess the much more prolific sources on the Internet, such together FTParchives that software and also Gopher-organized collection of documents.

With versions based on easy-to-use graphical user interfaces familiarto most computer system owners, Mosaic became an prompt success. It, likemost net software, was accessible on the network for free. Millionsof customers snatched up copies and began surfing the web for“cool internet pages.”


There you have actually the history of the Internet and the net in a nutshell:from rags to wide range in simply a few short years. The web hasspawned an entirely brand-new medium for worldwide information exchange andcommerce. Because that instance, as soon as the marketers recorded on to the fact thatthey could cheaply produce and deliver eye-catching, wow-and-whizbangcommercials and product catalogs come those millions of net surfersaround the world, there was no avoiding the stampede the blue suedeshoes. Also the vital developers that Mosaic and related web servertechnologies sensed potential riches. Castle left NCSA and made theirfortunes with Netscape interactions by producing commercialweb browsers and also server software. The was till the sleeping giantMicrosoft awoke. However that’s another story . . .

Business users and marketing methods have aided invigorate theInternet and fuel the phenomenal growth. Internet-based commerce hasbecome Very big Business and also is meant to technique US$150 billionannually through 2005.

For some, an especially us net old-timers, business and marketinghave additionally trashed the medium. In numerous ways, the net has become a vaststrip mall and also an annoying heralding medium. Believe it or not,once ~ above a time, net users adhered to generally held (but notformally codified) rules of netiquette thatprohibited such things as“spamming” special-interestnewsgroups v messages unrelated to the topic at your disposal or sendingunsolicited email.

Nonetheless, the power of HTML and network circulation ofinformation goes well past marketing and also monetary rewards: seriousinformational pursuits also benefit. Publications, finish withimages and also other media like executable software, can get to theirintended audiences in the blink of one eye, instead of the monthstraditionally compelled for printing and also mail delivery. Educationtakes a great leap forward once students gain access to the greatlibraries of the world. And also at time of leisure, the interactivecapabilities the HTML links can reinvigorate our otherwisetelevision-numbed minds.


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