The Internet is a worldwide network of thousands of computers and computer networks. It is a public, voluntary, and cooperative effort between the connected institutions and is not owned or operated by any single organization. The Internet and Transmission Control Protocols were initially developed in 1973 by American computer scientist Vinton Cerf as part of a project sponsored by the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and directed by American engineer Robert Kahn.
The Internet began as a computer network of ARPA (ARPAnet) that linked computer networks at several universities and research laboratories in the United States. The World Wide Web was developed in 1989 by English computer scientist Timothy Berners-Lee for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
"The design of the Internet was done in 1973 and published in 1974. There ensued about 10 years of hard work, resulting in the roll out of Internet in 1983. Prior to that, a number of demonstrations were made of the technology - such as the first three-network interconnection demonstrated in November 1977 linking SATNET, PRNET and ARPANET in a path leading from Menlo Park, CA to University College London and back to USC/ISI in Marina del Rey, CA." . - Vinton Cerf explains the timing.
Internet, interconnection of computer networks that enables connected machines to communicate directly. The term popularly refers to a particular global interconnection of government, education, and business computer networks that is available to the public. There are also smaller internets, usually for the private use of a single organization, called intranets.
Internet technology is a primitive precursor of the Information Superhighway, a theoretical goal of computer communications to provide schools, libraries, businesses, and homes universal access to quality information that will educate, inform, and entertain. In early 1996, the Internet interconnected more than 25 million computers in over 180 countries and continues to grow at a dramatic rate.
Internets are formed by connecting local networks through special computers in each network known as gateways. Gateway interconnections are made through various communication paths, including telephone lines, optical fibers, and radio links. Additional networks can be added by linking to new gateways. Information to be delivered to a remote machine is tagged with the computerized address of that particular machine.
Different types of addressing formats are used by the various services provided by internets (see Internet address). One format is known as dotted decimal, for example: 184.108.40.206. Another format describes the name of the destination computer and other routing information, such as "machine.dept.univ.edu." The suffix at the end of the internet address designates the type of organization that owns the particular computer network, for example, educational institutions (.edu), military locations (.mil), government offices (.gov), and non-profit organizations (.org). Networks outside the United States use suffixes that indicate the country, for example (.ca) for Canada.
Once addressed, the information leaves its home network through a gateway. It is routed from gateway to gateway until it reaches the local network containing the destination machine. Internets have no central control, that is, no single computer directs the flow of information. This differentiates internets from other types of online computer services, such as CompuServe, America Online, and the Microsoft Network.
The Internet Protocol is the basic software used to control an internet. This protocol specifies how gateway machines route information from the sending computer to the recipient computer. Another protocol, Transmission Control Protocol, checks whether the information has arrived at the destination computer and, if not, causes the information to be resent.
Even though computer interaction is in its infancy, it has dramatically changed our world, bridging the barriers of time and distance, allowing people to share information and work together. Evolution toward the Information Superhighway will continue at an accelerating rate. Available content will grow rapidly, making it easier to find any information on the Internet. New applications will provide secure business transactions and new opportunities for commerce. New technologies will increase the speed of information transfer, allowing direct transfer of entertainment-on-demand. Broadcast television may be replaced by unicast, in which each home receives a signal especially tailored for what its residents want to see when they want to see it.