Definition of Internet

The Internet, sometimes called simply "the Net," is a worldwide system of computer networks - a network of networks in which users at any one computer can, if they have permission, get information from any other computer (and sometimes talk directly to users at other computers). It was conceived by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the U.S. government in 1969 and was first known as the ARPANET. The original aim was to create a network that would allow users of a research computer at one university to be able to "talk to" research computers at other universities. A side benefit of ARPANet's design was that, because messages could be routed or rerouted in more than one direction, the network could continue to function even if parts of it were destroyed in the event of a military attack or other disaster.

Today, the Internet is a public, cooperative, and self-sustaining facility accessible to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Physically, the Internet uses a portion of the total resources of the currently existing public telecommunication networks. Technically, what distinguishes the Internet is its use of a set of protocols called Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Two recent adaptations of Internet technology, the intranet and the extranet, also make use of the TCP/IP protocol.

Using the Web, you have access to millions of pages of information. Web browsing is done with a Web browser, the most popular of which are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Related Terms

  • Extranet
  • Intranet
  • World Wide Web (WWW)

Other Definitions

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