How the Internet Works

By Jason Linton

The Internet is one of the most widely used resources available today. Although the World Wide Web is part of your everyday life, there is a lot about how the Internet works that might be a mystery to you. For example, what exactly happens when you connect to the Internet? What are bits and bytes? How is code translated into a Web page? Did you know that the Internet and the Web are actually two different things?

The Internet got its start back in the 1970s when the government was trying to create a way for computers to talk to each other. Two engineers named Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf created a set of rules or protocols that computers could use to communicate. In basic terms, the Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide.

With the Internet connecting all of the computers, the World Wide Web was invented by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 as a way to easily view all of the information and access it by using the handy links that we click on every day. So, to put it simply, we browse the Web over the medium of the Internet.

Throughout its lifespan, the Internet has been described variously as “a series of tubes” (US Senator Ted Stevens) to “a complete substitute for life” (UK journalist Andrew Brown.) It would seem that the concepts driving this technology can be notoriously difficult to explain in plain English.

The following infographic from Internet.Frontier does a pretty good job of breaking it all down in easy to understand language. This graphic will help you understand what is going on behind the scenes when you click a link online or perform a Google search. It is a useful resource for students and teachers or anyone else wanting to learn more about how the Internet works.

Courtesy of Internet.Frontier

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