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The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. A computer that connects to the Internet can access information from a vast number of servers and other computers. An Internet connection also allows the computer to send information onto the network; that information may be saved and ultimately accessed by a variety of servers and other computers. Much of the widely accessible information on the Internet consists of the interlinked hypertext documents and other resources of the World Wide Web (WWW). Web users typically send and receive information using a web browser; other software for interacting with computer networks includes specialized programs for electronic mail, online chat, file transfer and file sharing.

Information is moved around the Internet by packet switching using the standardized Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP). It is a "network of networks" that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by copper wires, fiber-optic cables, wireless connections, and other technologies.
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Visualization of the various routes through a portion of the Internet

Terminology Edit

Look up Internet or internet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.The terms Internet and World Wide Web are often used in every-day speech without much distinction. However, the Internet and the World Wide Web are not one and the same. The Internet is a global data communications system. It is a hardware and software infrastructure that provides connectivity between computers. In contrast, the Web is one of the services communicated via the Internet. It is a collection of interconnected documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs.

The term the Internet, when referring to the Internet, has traditionally been treated as a proper noun and written with an initial capital letter. There is a trend to regard it as a generic term or common noun and thus write it as "the internet", without the capital.


History Edit

Creation Edit

The USSR's launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as ARPA, in February 1958 to regain a technological lead.[2][3] ARPA created the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) to further the research of the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) program, which had networked country-wide radar systems together for the first time. J. C. R. Licklider was selected to head the IPTO.

Licklider moved from the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University to MIT in 1950, after becoming interested in information technology. At MIT, he served on a committee that established Lincoln Laboratory and worked on the SAGE project. In 1957 he became a Vice President at BBN, where he bought the first production PDP-1 computer and conducted the first public demonstration of time-sharing.

At the IPTO, Licklider got Lawrence Roberts to start a project to make a network, and Roberts based the technology on the work of Paul Baran,[4] who had written an exhaustive study for the U.S. Air Force that recommended packet switching (as opposed to circuit switching) to make a network highly robust and survivable. After much work, the first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected between UCLA and SRI (later SRI International) in Menlo Park, California, on October 29, 1969. The ARPANET was one of the "eve" networks of today's Internet.

Following on from the demonstration that packet switching worked on the ARPANET, the British Post Office, Telenet, DATAPAC and TRANSPAC collaborated to create the first international packet-switched network service. In the UK, this was referred to as the International Packet Switched Service (IPSS), in 1978. The collection of X.25-based networks grew from Europe and the US to cover Canada, Hong Kong and Australia by 1981. The X.25 packet switching standard was developed in the CCITT (now called ITU-T) around 1976.


Birth of the Internet plaque at Stanford UniversityX.25 was independent of the TCP/IP protocols that arose from the experimental work of DARPA on the ARPANET, Packet Radio Net and Packet Satellite Net during the same time period. Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn developed the first description of the TCP protocols during 1973 and published a paper on the subject in May 1974. Use of the term "Internet" to describe a single global TCP/IP network originated in December 1974 with the publication of RFC 675, the first full specification of TCP that was written by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine, then at Stanford University. During the next nine years, work proceeded to refine the protocols and to implement them on a wide range of operating systems.

The first TCP/IP-based wide-area network was operational by January 1, 1983 when all hosts on the ARPANET were switched over from the older NCP protocols. In 1985, the United States' National Science Foundation (NSF) commissioned the construction of the NSFNET, a university 56 kilobit/second network backbone using computers called "fuzzballs" by their inventor, David L. Mills. The following year, NSF sponsored the conversion to a higher-speed 1.5 megabit/second network. A key decision to use the DARPA TCP/IP protocols was made by Dennis Jennings, then in charge of the Supercomputer program at NSF.

The opening of the network to commercial interests began in 1988. The US Federal Networking Council approved the interconnection of the NSFNET to the commercial MCI Mail system in that year and the link was made in the summer of 1989. Other commercial electronic e-mail services were soon connected, including OnTyme, Telemail and Compuserve. In that same year, three commercial Internet service providers (ISP) were created: UUNET, PSINet and CERFNET. Important, separate networks that offered gateways into, then later merged with, the Internet include Usenet and BITNET. Various other commercial and educational networks, such as Telenet, Tymnet, Compuserve and JANET were interconnected with the growing Internet. Telenet (later called Sprintnet) was a large privately funded national computer network with free dial-up access in cities throughout the U.S. that had been in operation since the 1970s. This network was eventually interconnected with the others in the 1980s as the TCP/IP protocol became increasingly popular. The ability of TCP/IP to work over virtually any pre-existing communication networks allowed for a great ease of growth, although the rapid growth of the Internet was due primarily to the availability of commercial routers from companies such as Cisco Systems, Proteon and Juniper, the availability of commercial Ethernet equipment for local-area networking, and the widespread implementation of TCP/IP on the UNIX operating system.


Growth Edit

Graph of internet users per 100 inhabitants between 1997 and 2007 by International Telecommunication UnionAlthough the basic applications and guidelines that make the Internet possible had existed for almost two decades, the network did not gain a public face until the 1990s. On 6 August 1991, CERN, a pan European organisation for particle research, publicized the new World Wide Web project. The Web was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.

An early popular web browser was ViolaWWW, patterned after HyperCard and built using the X Window System. It was eventually replaced in popularity by the Mosaic web browser. In 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois released version 1.0 of Mosaic, and by late 1994 there was growing public interest in the previously academic, technical Internet. By 1996 usage of the word Internet had become commonplace, and consequently, so had its use as a synecdoche in reference to the World Wide Web.

Meanwhile, over the course of the decade, the Internet successfully accommodated the majority of previously existing public computer networks (although some networks, such as FidoNet, have remained separate). During the 1990s, it was estimated that the Internet grew by 100% per year, with a brief period of explosive growth in 1996 and 1997.[5] This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary open nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network. [6]

Using various statistics, AMD estimated the population of internet users to be 1.5 billion as of January 2009.[7]


University students' appreciation and contributions Edit

New findings in the field of communications during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were quickly adopted by universities across North America.

Examples of early university Internet communities are Cleveland FreeNet, Blacksburg Electronic Village and NSTN in Nova Scotia.[8] Students took up the opportunity of free communications and saw this new phenomenon as a tool of liberation. Personal computers and the Internet would free them from corporations and governments (Nelson, Jennings, Stallman).

Graduate students played a huge part in the creation of ARPANET.[citation needed] In the 1960s, the network working group, which did most of the design for ARPANET's protocols, was composed mainly of graduate students.


Today's Internet Edit

The My Opera Community server rack. From the top, user file storage (content of files.myopera.com), "bigma" (the master MySQL database server), and two IBM blade centers containing multi-purpose machines (Apache front ends, Apache back ends, slave MySQL database servers, load balancers, file servers, cache servers and sync masters)Aside from the complex physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is defined by its interconnections and routing policies.

By December 31, 2008, 1.574 billion people were using the Internet according to Internet World Statistics.[9]
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Todays Internet

Internet protocols Edit

The complex communications infrastructure of the Internet consists of its hardware components and a system of software layers that control various aspects of the architecture. While the hardware can often be used to support other software systems, it is the design and the rigorous standardization process of the software architecture that characterizes the Internet.

The responsibility for the architectural design of the Internet software systems has been delegated to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).[10] The IETF conducts standard-setting work groups, open to any individual, about the various aspects of Internet architecture. Resulting discussions and final standards are published in Requests for Comments (RFCs), freely available on the IETF web site.

The principal methods of networking that enable the Internet are contained in a series of RFCs that constitute the Internet Standards. These standards describe a system known as the Internet Protocol Suite. This is a model architecture that divides methods into a layered system of protocols (RFC 1122, RFC 1123). The layers correspond to the environment or scope in which their services operate. At the top is the space (Application Layer) of the software application, e.g., a web browser application, and just below it is the Transport Layer which connects applications on different hosts via the network (e.g., client-server model). The underlying network consists of two layers: the Internet Layer which enables computers to connect to one-another via intermediate (transit) networks and thus is the layer that establishes internetworking and the Internet, and lastly, at the bottom, is a software layer that provides connectivity between hosts on the same local link (therefor called Link Layer), e.g., a local area network (LAN) or a dial-up connection. This model is also known as the TCP/IP model of networking. While other models have been developed, such as the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, they are not compatible in the details of description, nor implementation.

The most prominent component of the Internet model is the Internet Protocol (IP) which provides addressing systems for computers on the Internet and facilitates the internetworking of networks. IP Version 4 (IPv4) is the initial version used on the first generation of the today's Internet and is still in dominant use. It was designed to address up to ~4.3 billion (109) Internet hosts. However, the explosive growth of the Internet has led to IPv4 address exhaustion. A new protocol version, IPv6, was developed which provides vastly larger addressing capabilities and more efficient routing of data traffic. IPv6 is currently in commercial deployment phase around the world.

IPv6 is not interoperable with IPv4. It essentially establishes a "parallel" version of the Internet not accessible with IPv4 software. This means software upgrades are necessary for every networking device that needs to communicate on the IPv6 Internet. Most modern computer operating systems are already converted to operate with both versions of the Internet Protocol. Network infrastructures, however, are still lagging in this development.


Internet structure Edit

There have been many analyses of the Internet and its structure. For example, it has been determined that both the Internet IP routing structure and hypertext links of the World Wide Web are examples of scale-free networks.

Similar to the way the commercial Internet providers connect via Internet exchange points, research networks tend to interconnect into large subnetworks such as the following:

GEANT GLORIAD The Internet2 Network (formally known as the Abilene Network) JANET (the UK's national research and education network) These in turn are built around relatively smaller networks. See also the list of academic computer network organizations.

Computer network diagrams often represent the Internet using a cloud symbol from which network communications pass in and out.[11]


ICANN Edit

ICANN headquarters in Marina Del Rey, California, United StatesMain article: ICANN The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the authority that coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers on the Internet, including domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and protocol port and parameter numbers. A globally unified namespace (i.e., a system of names in which there is at most one holder for each possible name) is essential for the Internet to function. ICANN is headquartered in Marina del Rey, California, but is overseen by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet technical, business, academic, and non-commercial communities. The US government continues to have the primary role in approving changes to the root zone file that lies at the heart of the domain name system. Because the Internet is a distributed network comprising many voluntarily interconnected networks, the Internet has no governing body. ICANN's role in coordinating the assignment of unique identifiers distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body on the global Internet, but the scope of its authority extends only to the Internet's systems of domain names, IP addresses, protocol ports and parameter numbers.

On November 16, 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Tunis, established the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.


Language Edit

The prevalent language for communication on the Internet is English. This may be a result of the Internet's origins, as well as English's role as a lingua franca. It may also be related to the poor capability of early computers, largely originating in the United States, to handle characters other than those in the English variant of the Latin alphabet.

After English (28.6% of Web visitors) the most requested languages on the World Wide Web are Chinese (20.3%), Spanish (8.2%), Japanese (5.9%), French and Portuguese (4.6%), German (4.1%), Arabic (2.6%), Russian (2.4%), and Korean (2.3%).[12]

By region, 41% of the world's Internet users are based in Asia, 25% in Europe, 16% in North America, 11% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 3% in Africa, 3% in the Middle East and 1% in Australia.[9]

The Internet's technologies have developed enough in recent years, especially in the use of Unicode, that good facilities are available for development and communication in most widely used languages. However, some glitches such as mojibake (incorrect display of foreign language characters, also known as kryakozyabry) still remain.


Internet and the workplace Edit

The Internet is allowing greater flexibility in working hours and location, especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections and Web applications.


The Internet viewed on mobile devices Edit

The Internet can now be accessed virtually anywhere by numerous means. Mobile phones, datacards, handheld game consoles and cellular routers allow users to connect to the Internet from anywhere there is a cellular network supporting that device's technology.

Within the limitations imposed by the small screen and other limited facilities of such a pocket-sized device, all the services of the Internet, including email and web browsing, may be available in this way. Service providers may restrict the range of these services and charges for data access may be significant, compared to home usage.

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