Introduction to the Internet
Read about the History
of the Internet
We are in an information age. Now more than ever, moving vast amounts
of information quickly across great distances is one of our most pressing needs.
From small one-person entrepreneurial efforts, to the largest of corporations,
to educational institutions, more and more people are discovering that technology
is advancing at a break-neck pace --- and they must somehow keep up. Likewise,
researchers from all corners of the earth are finding that their work thrives
in a networked environment. Immediate access to the work of colleagues and a "virtual"
library of millions of volumes and thousands of papers affords them the ability
to use a large body of knowledge. Work groups can now conduct interactive conferences
with each other, paying no heed to physical location---the possibilities are endless.
You have at your fingertips the ability to talk in "real-time''
with someone in Japan, send a 2,000-word short story to a group of people who
will critique it for the sheer pleasure of doing so, see if a computer sitting
in a lab in Canada is turned on, and find out if someone happens to be sitting
in front of their computer (logged on) in Australia, all inside
of thirty minutes. No airline could ever match that travel itinerary. The largest
problem people face when first using a network is grasping all that's available.
Even seasoned users find themselves surprised when they discover a new service
or feature that they'd never known even existed. Once acquainted with the terminology
and sufficiently comfortable with making occasional mistakes, the learning process
will drastically speed up.
Key Questions and Answers:
What is the
In a simple sense, the Internet is simply millions of computers
(actually networks of computers) linked to one another. The Internet means literally,
a network of networks. It is a collection of computers
linked by software and transmission lines. If your computer is linked to the
Internet, you can retrieve information from computers throughout the world.
The Internet is an amazing story of worldwide collaboration that has benefited
students, universities and colleges, the medical communities, businesses, organizations,
clubs, libraries, and individuals.
Often when we think about the Internet, we think of the World
Wide Web (WWW), the ability to view web pages that include text, graphics, sound,
and video. Yet the Internet is much more than the WWW and many of the uses of
the Internet predate the WWW. One of the most popular uses of the Internet is
email, but the Internet is also used for File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Telnet,
Usenet Newsgroups, and Gopher, among others.
The Internet is a rapidly evolving collection of networked networks
which may, some day, allow everyone access to digital information and communication
world-wide. It does not do so yet because many people around the world lack
the equipment and ability to access networks. Yet things are improving daily.
A few short years ago it was thought that men would always significantly outnumber
women on the Internet, but recent statistics suggest that the numbers are equalizing
fast in North America: an estimated 48% of Internet users are women.
What does the
The positive side: The Internet has the ability to shrink
the world and bring information (even knowledge) on almost any subject imaginable
directly to an individual. Some claim that the Internet is the most significant
achievement in the history of humankind and that it will change civilization
permanently. "What happens when millions of people gather in a safe place
to talk and share?" (Harley Hahn, The Internet Complete Reference,
Second Edition, 1996)
The negative side: The Internet may be creating a rift
within the human family. Increasingly there will be two kinds of people: those
who understand the Internet and have access to it, and those who do not. How
can we deal with this potential problem?
How much do
I need to know?
How much detailed, technical information must one have to use
the Internet? Hint: The Internet is easy to use but it is not easy to use well.
To maximize the benefit of Internet access, we must dedicate ourselves to learning
at least the basic skills and concepts involved.
How does the Internet
Here's a brief diagram to help illustrate
how the Internet works. Click on any individual area for a
more in-depth description.
What is the history
of the Internet?
The history of the Internet begins in the late 1950s and early
1960s. Computers were large, heavy and very expensive and used many different
operating systems. Because of these features and the limited access many people
had to travel far to use computers and often time was limited. Thus scientists
wanted to find a way to network computers and ease access as well as create
a scholarly network. J.C.R. Licklider was one of the early pioneers of the Internet.
In 1960 he wrote the seminal paper, "Man-Computer Symbiosis," that
inspired many working on the networking of computers. From 1957 to 1963, Licklider
worked for Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), the company that would successfully
bid to build the first Internet. In 1962, Licklider was recruited by the Department
of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) and was a critical force
behind the development of ARPANET. In a 1968 essay entitled "The Computer
as Communication Device," Licklider argued that "in a few years, men
will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to
Created in in 1969, ARPANET linked four mainframe computers
at Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Los Angeles,
the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The
network was designed to be like a distributed web with several nodes that branched
off rather than one central communication center. This design was developed
almost simultaneously by three researchers who all had knowledge of each other's
work: Leonard Klienrock of MIT, Paul Baran of Rand Corporation and Donald Davies
of the British Particle Physics Laboratory. The design was based on the technology
of packet switching. This technology meant that instead of having each computer
connected with every other computer moving data between them in a steady flow,
packets of information were sent. Data was broken into chunks or packets and
the packets were sent on a number of lines to reach the final destination. This
allows a number of users to be using the same line at the same time. By June
1970, MIT, Harvard, BBN, and Systems Development Corp (SDC) in Santa Monica,
California, were added. By January 1971, Stanford, MIT's Lincoln Labs, Carnegie-Mellon,
and Case-Western Reserve U were added. In months to come, NASA/Ames, Mitre,
Burroughs, RAND, and the U of Illinois plugged in. After that, there were far
too many to keep listing here. For a few of the companies involved, the Internet
was designed in part to provide a communications network that would work even
if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. If the most direct route
was not available, routers would direct traffic around the network via alternate
routes (however, most of the researches were more interested in connecting computers).
The early Internet was used by computer experts, engineers,
and scientists. There was nothing friendly about it. There were no home or office
personal computers in those days, and anyone who used it, whether a computer
professional or an engineer or scientist, had to learn to use a very complex
system. The Internet matured in the 70s as a result of the TCP/IP architecture
first proposed by Bob Kahn at BBN and further developed by Kahn and Vint Cerf
at Stanford and others throughout the 70s. It was adopted by the Defense Department
in 1980 and universally adopted by 1983. Ethernet, a protocol for many local
networks, appeared in 1974, an outgrowth of Harvard student Bob Metcalfe's dissertation
on "Packet Networks." The dissertation was initially rejected for
not being analytical enough. It later won acceptance when he added some more
equations to it. The Unix to UNIX Copy Protocol (UUCP) was invented in 1978
at Bell Labs. Usenet was started in 1979 based on UUCP. Newsgroups, which are
discussion groups focusing on a topic, provided a means for exchanging information
throughout the world . While Usenet is not considered as part of the Internet,
since it does not share the use of TCP/IP, it linked UNIX systems around the
world, and many Internet sites took advantage of the availability of newsgroups.
It was a significant part of the community building that took place on the networks.
Similarly, BITNET (Because It's Time Network) connected IBM mainframes around
the educational community and the world to provide mail services beginning in
1981. Listserv software was developed for this network and later others. Listservs
provided a way to do mass emailing to groups of users. Gateways were developed
to connect BITNET with the Internet and allowed exchange of email, particularly
for email discussion lists. These listservs and other forms of email discussion
lists formed another major element in the community building that was taking
In 1986, the National Science Foundation funded NSFNET as a
cross country 56 Kbps backbone for the Internet. They maintained their sponsorship
for nearly a decade, setting rules for its non-commercial government and research
uses. As the commands for email, FTP, and telnet were standardized, it became
easier for non-technical people to learn to use the nets. It was not easy by
today's standards by any means, but it did open use of the Internet to many
more people in universities. Other departments besides the computer, physics,
and engineering departments found ways to make good use of the nets--to communicate
with colleagues around the world and to share files and resources. Libraries,
which had been automating their catalogs went a step further and made their
automated catalogs available to the world.
While the number of sites on the Internet was small, it was
fairly easy to keep track of the resources that were available. But as more
and more universities and organizations connected, the Internet became harder
and harder to track. There was more and more need for tools to index the resources
that were available.
The first effort to index the Internet was created in 1989,
as Peter Deutsch and his crew at McGill University in Montreal, created an archiver
for ftp sites, which they named Archie. This software would periodically reach
out to all known openly available ftp sites, list their files, and build a searchable
index of the software. The commands to search Archie were UNIX commands, and
it took some knowledge of UNIX to use it to its full capability. McGill University,
which hosted the first Archie, found out one day that half the Internet traffic
going into Canada from the United States was accessing Archie. Administrators
were concerned that the University was subsidizing such a volume of traffic,
and closed down Archie to outside access. Fortunately, by that time, there were
many more Archies available.
At about the same time, Brewster Kahle, then at Thinking Machines
Corporation, developed his Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), which would
index the full text of files in a database and allow searches of the files.
There were several versions with varying degrees of complexity and capability
developed, but the simplest of these were made available to everyone on the
nets. At its peak, Thinking Machines maintained pointers to over 600 databases
around the world which had been indexed by WAIS. They included such things as
the full set of Usenet Frequently Asked Questions files, the full documentation
of working papers by those developing the Internet's standards, and much more.
Like Archie, its interface was far from intuitive, and it took some effort to
learn to use it well.
In 1991, the first friendly interface to the Internet was developed
at the University of Minnesota. The University wanted to develop a simple menu
system to access files and information on campus through their local network.
A debate followed between mainframe adherents and those who believed in smaller
systems with client-server architecture. The mainframe adherents "won"
the debate initially, but since the client-server advocates said they could
put up a prototype very quickly, they were given the go-ahead to do a demonstration
system. The demonstration system was called a gopher after the University of
Minnesota mascot--the golden gopher. Gopher proved to be very prolific, and
within a few years there were over 10,000 gophers around the world. It takes
no knowledge of UNIX or computer architecture to use. In a gopher system, a
user would type or click on a number to select the menu selection he/she wanted.
You can use the U of Minnesota gopher today to pick gophers
from all over the World
Gopher's usability was enhanced much more when the University
of Nevada at Reno developed the VERONICA searchable index of gopher menus. It
was purported to be an acronym for Very Easy Rodent-Oriented Netwide Index to
Computerized Archives. A spider crawled gopher menus around the world, collecting
links and retrieving them for the index. It was so popular that it was very
hard to connect to, even though a number of other VERONICA sites were developed
to ease the load. Similar indexing software was developed for single sites,
called JUGHEAD (Jonzy's Universal Gopher Hierarchy Excavation And Display).
Peter Deutsch, who developed Archie, always insisted that Archie was short for
Archiver, and had nothing to do with the comic strip. He was disgusted when
VERONICA and JUGHEAD appeared.
In 1989 another significant event took place in making the nets
easier to use. Tim Berners-Lee and others at the European Laboratory for Particle
Physics, more popularly known as CERN, proposed a new protocol for information
distribution. This protocol, which became the World Wide Web in 1991, was based
on hypertext--a system of embedding links in text to link to other texts. The
text pages of the Internet are called lexias. Although started before gopher,
it was slower to develop. The development in 1993 of the graphical browser Mosaic
by Marc Andreessen and his team at the National
Center For Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) gave the protocol its big
boost. Later, Andreessen moved to become the brains behind Netscape,
which produced the most successful graphical browser and server until Microsoft
declared war and developed its MicroSoft Internet Explorer. A browser is an
application that allows users to "browse" the Internet by downloading
web pages onto their computers. A browser is used by a client (you) to access
the web pages on the Internet. A server (a regular computer but often faster
and with larger memory and storage capacities) "serves" the pages
to clients. The web pages are stored on the hard drive of the server and through
the use of server software it is able to do its work.
Since the Internet was initially funded by the government, it
was originally limited to research, education, and government uses. Commercial
uses were prohibited unless they directly served the goals of research and education.
This policy continued until the early 1990s, when independent commercial networks
began to grow. It then became possible to route traffic across the country from
one commercial site to another without passing through the government funded
NSFNET Internet backbone. Delphi was the first national commercial online service
to offer Internet access to its subscribers. It opened up an email connection
in July 1992 and full Internet service in November 1992. All pretenses of limitations
on commercial use disappeared in May 1995 when the National Science Foundation
ended its sponsorship of the Internet backbone, and all traffic relied on commercial
networks. AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe came online. Since commercial usage was
so widespread by this time and educational institutions had been paying their
own way for some time, the loss of NSF funding did not change costs.
Today, NSF funding has moved beyond supporting the backbone
and higher educational institutions to building the K-12 and local public library
accesses, on the one hand, and the research on the massive high volume connections,
on the other hand. Microsoft's full scale entry into the browser, server, and
Internet Service Provider market completed the major shift over to a commercially
based Internet. The release of Windows 98 in June 1998 with the Microsoft browser
well integrated into the desktop shows Bill Gates' determination to capitalize
on the enormous growth of the Internet. Microsoft's success over the past few
years has brought court challenges to their dominance.
A current trend with major implications for the future is the
growth of high speed connections. 56K modems and the providers who support them
are spreading widely, but this is just a small step compared to what will follow.
56K is not fast enough to carry multimedia, such as sound and video except in
low quality. But new technologies many times faster, such as cable modems, digital
subscriber lines (DSL), and satellite broadcast are available in limited locations
now, and will become widely available in the next few years. These technologies
present problems, not just in the user's connection, but in maintaining high
speed data flow reliably from source to the user. Those problems are being worked
By 1989, 100,000 computers were linked to the Internet, but
this would soon be dwarfed by the explosive growth of the 1990s. Today, there
is really no accurate count of the number of individual machines connected to
Internet. Recent figures place the number Internet users worldwide at 150 million.
It is estimated that by the year 2000, 327 million people around the world will
have Internet access. The top 15 countries will account for nearly 82% of the
these worldwide Internet users (including business, educational, and home Internet
users). By the year 2000, there will be 25 countries where over 10% of the population
will be Internet users.
Brief Internet Timeline
1957: USSR launches Sputnik,
the first satellite. In response, the U.S. forms the Advanced Research Projects
Agency (ARPA) within the Department of Defense to establish a US lead in science
1962: The first theoretical
paper is published by a US scientist dealing with the creation of a communications
network using a revolutionary new computer networking technology. This leads
to the first discussion of an "Inter-networking" of computers connecting
the nation's research centers and colleges.
1969: ARPANET is commissioned
by the Defense Department to begin research into computer networking. Later
that year, the first portions of the experimental system go online at UCLA,
Stanford Research Institute, the University of Utah, and the University of California
at Santa Barbara.
1971: 23 computers are
now connected to the early Internet, and can exchange information between each
other in experimental ways.
1972: The first email
program is created to send messages across the network. Thus, email holds the
title as being the first official Internet communications tool.
1973: First international
connections to the ARPANET go online in Norway and England.
1979: Usenet newsgroups
established between Duke and the University of North Carolina.
1982: The Transmission
Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is approved as the communication
standard for ARPANET. This leads to the first definition of an "Internet"
as a connected set of networks using the protocol, which remains in use today.
1983: Desktop computers
become widely available to the public at somewhat affordable prices.
1984: Number of computers
on the ARPANET breaks 1,000.
1986: The National Science
Foundation creates a new part of the ARPANET which allows for nongovernment
online traffic (NSFNet). Later that year, the first nongovernment citizens begin
to hook up to the ARPANET.
1987: Number of computers
on ARPANET breaks 10,000.
1988: First K-12 schools
in the United States connect to the system, mostly to utilize its email capabilities.
1989: Number of computers
on ARPANET breaks 100,000. First email relay begins between a commercial online
service (CompuServe) and the ARPANET goes live.
1990: ARPANET ceases to
exist. The network is now officially referred to as the Internet.
1992: The World Wide Web
is created by a research facility in Switzerland. Number of computers on the
Internet breaks 1,000,000. First audio multicast (March) and video multicast
1993: US White House comes
online just after the National Information Infrastructure (NII) Act is passed.
Stephen King is the first author to publish a short story via the Internet (September).
Businesses and media start to take an interest in the Internet as the number
of users climbs above 10 million. The World Wide Web grows at a 300,000 percent
annual growth rate of service traffic.
1994: US Senate and House
bring information servers online. First flower shop (Grant's Florist in the
US) begins taking orders via the Internet. Shopping malls, advertising, and
mass marketing find their way online. Total number of computers hooked to the
Internet: 2,864,000. Number of countries reachable by email: 140. Total Internet
users by the end of the year: 14 million.
1996: The controversial
US Communications Decency Act becomes law in the US in order to prohibit distribution
of indecent materials over the Net. A few months later a three-judge panel imposes
an injunction against its enforcement.
1997: US Supreme Court
declares Communications Decency Act unconstitutional and unenforceable.
1998: Compaq, Intel, and Microsoft team up with
major local phone service providers GTE and four of Bell companies (all except
Bell Atlantic) to develop technology that would improve Internet access to a
speed of 1.5 million bits a second.
Further information about the World Wide Web is available
at these sites:
Who runs the
The Internet is a massive, cooperative enterprise run by lots
of people -- and nobody. It has no president, no CEO, no single authority figure.
The lack of a strict, centralized focus of power means that the Internet can
be described as a free-spirited, creative environment, as well as the ultimate
in disorganization and chaos.
The Internet Society
So far, the ultimate source of guidance for
the Internet rests with a voluntary membership organization - the Internet
Society. The Internet Society is a nongovernmental, International
organization for global cooperation and coordination for the Internet and its
internetworking technologies and applications. The Society is governed by its
Board Of Trustees elected by its membership around the world.
In turn, the Internet Society recruits volunteers to the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). The
InterNIC is a cooperative activity between the National Science Foundation,
AT&T, and Network Solutions, Inc. It is a good source for information and
the latest news regarding the Internet. As of this writing, it is also responsible
for overseeing the domain name system (but this important task will soon be
handled by another group).
How do I get
Internet accesses and interfaces vary greatly. How you connect
will depend upon your particular situation (i.e., do you work at a university
or a large business, or are you an individual wishing to connect from home?).
While there are many paths to the Internet, currently there are two basic types
of connection: dial-up access (via a modem and telephone line) or a "hard
wired" direct connection. To use the Internet you will need:
a computer; client program(s) running on your computer; and a way to connect
your computer to the Net (communications software and a link to a host computer
that is tied to the Internet backbone).
Internet Access via telephone: Dial-up
to a local network
What you need:
- Hardware: a modem and telephone line
- Shell account (for terminal emulation, text-based interface
- TCP/IP software
- A PPP account ("Point-to-Point" connection =
full-fledged Internet access with a graphical interface)
Example: John attaches a modem to his computer and installs
some communication software (so that the modem will dial-up and connect his
computer to another computer on the Internet). John may subscribe to an Internet
Service Provider (ISP) that will provide his link to the Internet. He may also
run TCP/IP software on his computer so that he has full Internet access (a graphical
user interface) with a PPP (point to point protocol) connection.
Internet Access via Direct connection ("hard-wired")
What you need:
- Hardware: Ethernet connection, Ethernet card, drop cable
- Software: TCP/IP software, FTP Software; MacTCP;
- An IP (Internet Protocol) Address unique to your computer
Example: A university has set up a local area network (LAN)
on its campus, linking all of its computers with an Ethernet system. This LAN
gets access to the Internet by making a connection via a leased phone line to
a regional network (which has a gateway to the Internet). A student or staff
person who has access to the university local area network then has 24-hour
access to the Internet.
What is the
World Wide Web?
The World Wide Web (variously referred to as "the Web",
WWW, or W3) is a part of the Internet that allows users to traverse systems
of linked documents simply by clicking on highlighted items. Increasingly, the
WWW is becoming the unifying interface of the Internet because of its ease of
use, its graphical interface, and its comprehensive coverage of an amazing range
of Internet resources. WWW is based on the concept of hypertext data
that links to other data.
What is Hypermedia
Hypertext is the non-linear presentation of text (vs. the more
traditional linear approach of the hard-copy print world). Hypertext allows
one to jump back and forth between ideas and related resources. Hypertext documents
have words that are underlined (and often appearing in a different color or
font). Clicking on one of these "links" will move you to another text
document (not necessarily on the same machine as the original document), or
to a graphic, sound, or full-motion video clip. Like hypertext, hypermedia
refers to the nonlinear presentation of a wide range of other media such as
graphics and sound.
What is HTML
(HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE)?
All Web pages are written in a language called HTML -- Hypertext
Markup Language. HTML is also described as a "document page description"
and is simply ordinary ASCII (plain text) with embedded codes (called "tags").
These tags give the instructions on how the text is to be displayed by the browser.
We will explore HTML in greater detail in later cybermodules.
All Web documents are written in HTML. HTML tags describe
the content or structure of a Web document. It is simply a method of marking
a document in such a way that Web browser software will display it properly.
While HTML seems like a simple language, it is a powerful means of creating
your own interactive hypermedia presence on the Internet. An HTML tag is
a specific word or abbreviation enclosed between a "lesser than" symbol
< and a "greater than" symbol > . Often an HTML
tag is actually a pair of tags - the starting tag (a word) and the end
tag (the same word preceded by a slash / ). The pair of tags effects
everything between them. For example, you will enclose your entire home page
between a beginning tag <HTML> and a closing tag </HTML>. [See "A
Beginner's Guide to HTML" for a complete list of tags.]
Versions of HTML
HTML was first developed at CERN (European Particle Physics
Laboratory) in 1989. There are several versions of HTML in use right now: HTML
1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.2, various beta versions, etc. The current, official
standard is HTML 3.2. Newer, enhanced versions of HTML are always under development
and are constantly under consideration by the W3C - the WWW Consortium)
as the next possible standard. Important Note: Each Web browser is designed
to read a particular version of HTML. It is probably not possible to create
an HTML text that will work well with all Web browsers. When designing
a page, keep in mind your target audience. Many people do not (or cannot) run
the most current Web browsers capable of reading the state-of-the-art HTML tags.
While the temptation may be great to incorporate the latest HTML tags, remember
that they may not be visible to some of your readers. In some circumstances,
it may be wise to be conservative and opt for the use of older HTML standards.
Browser Extensions and Plugins
Many people have been frustrated with the lengthy process involved
in standardizing new-and-improved HTML tags and innovations. And some have decided
to forge ahead without the blessings of the W3C. For example, Netscape has
created some "extensions" (additional tags and attributes) to both
HTML 2.0 and HTML 3.X. Netscape is trying to work closely with the W3C
and many of the Netscape extensions are being proposed for inclusion
in the next official HTML standard. However, be aware that in using Netscape
extensions, your Web page may not display properly in all browsers (i.e.,
not all browsers can read Netscape extensions). Plugins have been designed
to help browsers do other kinds of things such as display multimedia and animation.
More on this later.
What is a Web
The Web is built on the client-server software model. Some computers
run World Wide Web server software (and therefore are sometimes referred to
as "Web Servers".) These Web servers make hypertext and hypermedia
documents available to those computers running Web clients, most often known
as "browsers". In order to read a hypertext document on the WWW, you
will need a client software program or browser installed on your computer.
Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer are the
most common browsers in use today (You may also still encounter Mosaic
and Lynx). Netscape Navigator is the program we will use in this
HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS FOR NETSCAPE
NETSCAPE NAVIGATOR for WINDOWS. You will need the following:
- A 386 or better PC computer
- Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95/98,
or Windows NT
- At least 8 MB of RAM (preferably more!)
- About 5 MB of space on your hard drive
- A connection to the Internet (either via your office Ethernet
connection or using a fast modem and a PPP connection)
- TCP/IP software (included in the Windows 95 and MacIntosh
System 7.X systems)
- Some version of Netscape Navigator
- If you ftp Netscape Navigator, you will find both
- 32-bit (for Windows 95 and NT) versions available.
Netscape Navigator is available free to those affiliated
with an educational institution. Several different versions of Netscape Navigator
are currently in circulation. The higher the version number, the more features
that are incorporated into the program. However, remember that more features
will require more computer resources (more memory, speed, storage space).
While you will certainly want to run the latest, snazziest version possible,
try to match the best program version to your computer's capabilities. (Also,
be aware that only Windows 95 and Windows NT can run the 32-bit version of
- Netscape Navigator version 1.1N; 1.2; 2.0; 2.01; 2.02
- Netscape Navigator 3.0 (for Windows 3.1)
- Netscape Navigator Gold 3.0 (for Windows 95/98 and
- Netscape Communicator (Navigator 4.5)
What is an
Internet Address (URL)?
Every computer on the Internet has a unique address. Understanding
the Internet addressing system is crucial to using the Internet.
How Computers Communicate with Computers:
Computers identify each other by IP (Internet Protocol)
IP numbers range from 0.0.0.0. to 255.255.255.255
For example, the computer ah4.cal.msu.edu has an IP address
ah4.cal.msu.edu = 184.108.40.206
You can use an IP address anywhere you would use a regular address.
Dynamic vs. Static IP addresses:
Once you connect to the Internet, your computer is considered
a "host computer" (no matter whether it is modest desktop computer
or a large mainframe). All Internet hosts must have a unique IP number. You
may have a permanent IP number (called a Static IP address) assigned
to you and your computer system will automatically use this same number each
time you connect to the Internet. Alternatively, you may be assigned a Dynamic
IP address by your ISP (Internet Service Provider ). This number will be
different each time you connect to the Internet (your PPP connection will take
care of this automatically for you).
How People Communicate with People
People communicate with each other by exchanging and using
addresses. email addresses identify both the person and the
computer. UserID@host.domain.top-domain (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How People Communicate with Computers:
People use "host" names or the Domain Name System
(DNS) to identify computers. A DNS server keeps track of addresses on the Internet,
converting domain names back and forth from IP addresses. There are two types
of top-level domains: organizational and geographical. host.domain.top-domain
More on Domains
Getting where you want to go can often be one of the more difficult
aspects of using networks. The variety of ways that places are named will probably
leave a blank stare on your face at first. Don't fret; there is a method to
this apparent madness. If someone were to ask for a home address, they would
probably expect a street, apartment, city, state, and zip code. That's all the
information the post office needs to deliver mail in a reasonably speedy fashion.
Likewise, computer addresses have a structure to them. The general form is:
a person's email address on a computer: email@example.com
a computer's name: somewhere.domain
The user portion is usually the person's account
name on the system, though it doesn't have to be. somewhere.domain
tells you the name of a system or location, and what kind of organization it
is. The trailing domain is often one of the following:
com: Usually a company or other commercial
institution or organization, like Convex Computers (convex.com).
edu: An educational institution, e.g.
New York University, named nyu.edu.
gov: A government site; for example,
NASA is nasa.gov.
mil: A military site, like the Air Force
Gateways and other
administrative hosts for a network (it does not mean all of the hosts
in a near.net.
org: This is a domain reserved for private
organizations, who don't comfortably fit in the other classes of domains.
One example is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, named eff.org.
- Each country also has its own top-level domain. For example,
us domain includes each of the fifty states. Other countries
represented with domains include:
uk: The United Kingdom. These also have
sub-domains of things like ac.uk for academic sites and co.uk
for commercial ones.
The proper terminology for a site's domain name (somewhere.domain
above) is its Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). It is usually
selected to give a clear indication of the site's organization or sponsoring
agent. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's FQDN is mit.edu;
similarly, Apple Computer's domain name is apple.com. While such
obvious names are usually the norm, there are the occasional exceptions that
are ambiguous enough to mislead---like vt.edu, which on first impulse
one might surmise is an educational institution of some sort in Vermont; not
so. It's actually the domain name for Virginia Tech. In most cases it's relatively
easy to glean the meaning of a domain name---such confusion is far from the
More on Internet Numbers
The Internet uses a 32-bit number, but is most commonly represented
as four numbers joined by periods (.), like
This is sometimes also called a dotted quad; there are literally
thousands of different possible dotted quads. The ARPAnet (the mother to today's
Internet) originally only had the capacity to have up to 256 systems on it because
of the way each system was addressed. In the early eighties, it became clear
that things would fast outgrow such a small limit; the 32-bit addressing method
was born, freeing thousands of host numbers.
Each piece of an Internet address (like
called an "octet,'' representing one of four sets of eight bits. The first
two or three pieces (e.g.,
192.55.239) represent the network that
a system is on, called its subnet. For example, all of the computers
for Wesleyan University are in the subnet
129.133. They can have
220.127.116.11, up to
65 thousand possible combinations (possible computers).
IP addresses and domain names aren't assigned arbitrarily---that
would lead to unbelievable confusion. An application must be filed with the
Network Information Center (NIC), either electronically (to
or via regular mail.
More on Resolving Names and Numbers
Computers can be referred to by either their FQDN or their Internet
address. How can one user be expected to remember them all?
They aren't. The Internet is designed so that one can use either
method. Since humans find it much more natural to deal with words than numbers
in most cases, the FQDN for each host is mapped to its Internet number. Each
domain is served by a computer within that domain, which provides
all of the necessary information to go from a domain name to an IP address,
and vice-versa. For example, when someone refers to
the resolver knows that it should ask the system
about systems in
bar.com. It asks what Internet address
has; if the name
foosun.bar.com really exists,
will send back its number. All of this "magic'' happens behind the scenes.
Rarely will a user have to remember the Internet number of a
site (although often you'll catch yourself remembering an apparently obscure
number, simply because you've accessed the system frequently). However, you
will remember a substantial number of FQDNs. It will eventually reach a point
when you are able to make a reasonably accurate guess at what domain name a
certain college, university, or company might have, given just their name.
URLs (Uniform Resource Locator)
To navigate the Internet, we will need to understand the URL,
the Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is a way of naming
network resources in a consistent fashion. A URL includes not only the electronic
address of a resource, but its "prefix" identifies the protocol
of the transmission. Some examples are:
Telnet: telnet://uwinfo.uwaterloo.ca (login: uwinfo)
FTP: File Transfer protocol : ftp://ftp.io.org/pub/human-rrghts
Hypertext Transfer Protocol: http://www.msu.edu [Note:
WWW URLs are case-sensitive]
Electronic Mail Address : email://firstname.lastname@example.org
What are Internet
We make use of the Internet by running various client/server
programs. Each type of client makes it possible for us to take advantage of
a different Internet resource. For example, when you want to send a piece of
electronic mail, you use a mail client. When you want to browse the Web, you
use a Web client, and so on. Servers are programs that provide Internet resources.
Clients are programs that we use to access those Internet Resources. Therefore,
the Internet is basically composed of two types of computer programs: servers
and clients. Client/Server applications give us the "tools" to make
use of the Internet.
The Internet Toolbox
The three basic tools of the Internet Toolbox (the screwdriver,
hammer, and pliers) are electronic mail, telnet, and ftp. If you have a basic
understanding of these three activities, you can do anything-and-everything
on the Internet!
Electronic mail is the most widely used service on the Internet.
Allows you to connect remotely to another computer.
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
File Transfer Protocol allows you to move files from one computer
to another. Also known as "Downloading/Uploading". Anonymous ftp
is one of the most important services on the Internet (you can copy from other
computers valuable information and software for free).
There are many client programs available for each of these activities.
For example, you may choose to use Pilot, PINE, Pegasus, Eudora, Netscape Messenger,
or Outlook for your email client. Telnet and file transfer protocol are such
important tools that most computer operating systems (i.e., Windows. 3.X, Windows
95/98/NT, Macintosh System 7.X/8.X/9.X) include some basic version of these
handy programs. However, many users like to upgrade their system software and
choose to install more full-featured versions of telnet and ftp. Many telnet
and ftp applications are available at no cost (freeware) or a modest fee (shareware).
For example, two popular telnet applications for Windows 95 are QVT/Term
and WinTel . A powerful, full-featured ftp program is WS-FTP LE.
But there are many choices and much depends upon your computer system and your
personal preferences. See the large Internet software database at http://www.tucows.com
for a wide selection of downloadable applications.
NOTE: Web browsers are now incorporating these three basic tools
into their interface. This means that you may perform email, telnet, and ftp
without having to leave the web browser.
Telnet is the main Internet protocol for creating
a connection with a remote machine. It gives the user the opportunity to be
on one computer system and do work on another, which may be across the street
or thousands of miles away. Where modems are limited, in the majority, by the
quality of telephone lines and a single connection, telnet provides a connection
that's error-free and nearly always faster than the latest conventional modems.
The command for negotiating a telnet connection varies from
system to system. The most common is
telnet itself, though.
To open the connection, type the following in the host window:
Many telnet clients also include a third option, the port
on which the connection should take place. Normally, port 23 is the default
telnet port; the user never has to think about it. But sometimes it's desirable
to telnet to a different port on a system, where there may be a service available,
or to aid in debugging a problem. Using
telnet somewhere.domain port
will connect the user to the given port on the system
somewhere.domain. Many libraries use this port method to offer their
facilities to the general Internet community; other services are also available.
For instance, one would type
telnet martini.eecs.umich.edu 3000
Gopher was developed at the University of Minnesota in 1991
(the gopher is their mascot). It also may be seen as a play on words--GOPHER
software allows one to "go for" information.
It is an application that organizes access to resources (text
files) throughout the Internet. The interface is always the same, no matter
where you are. Gopher uses a hierarchical menu-driven system. Gopher is easier
to use than any other service of the Internet and, until recently, allowed access
to a larger variety of services and information than anything else on the Internet.
Though it is quickly being superseded in many places by WWW, there are still
many valuable gopher servers available. [see gopher://gopher.msu.edu]
Veronica is a gopher-based program that allows one to
search gopher servers worldwide for a particular item. A Veronica server
maintains a searchable database of all the known gopher menus (updated periodically).
However, many of the search engines of the WWW (accessible through a Web browser)
will also search gopher resources for you. So, in doing serious research, you
may want to try both a Veronica server directly and a WWW search engine to thoroughly
canvas gopher resources.
USENET stands for "User's Network". It is a huge system
of discussion groups in which articles (email postings) are distributed throughout
the world. The original concept was to create a virtual bulletin board in order
to display news and notices. Usenet is often also called NETNEWS or simply,
the NEWS. Over 13,000 Usenet groups exist! Each Internet site (such as MSU)
makes a decision whether or not to have a "feed" for Usenet, and which
groups to carry. Unlike subscribing to a listserv mailing list (where mail comes
directly to your private email account), you must go to the local Usenet server
in order to read the latest postings. You must have a client "reader"
to read or post to Usenet. However, many web browsers (Netscape Navigator) are
now incorporating a newsreader as part of their service.
WORLD WIDE WEB
The World Wide Web (WWW) allows users to traverse systems of
linked documents simply by clicking on highlighted items. WWW is based on the
concept of hypertext - data that contains links to other data. In order
to read a hypertext document, you will need a client software program commonly
called a "browser". Netscape Navigator, Mosaic, and
Lynx are the most common browsers in use today.
What makes the Web so powerful and useful is that a hypertext link might connect
to any type of Internet resource: a text file, a telnet session, a Gopher, a
Usenet newsgroup, a graphic file, a file containing 3-D animation, etc.
The following is a more complete list of all the activities
on the Internet (Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!), some more widely used
or popular than others. All of them may be referred to variously as Internet
protocols, Internet client/server applications, Internet "tools" or
services, etc. While the nomenclature may vary, one thing is certain: the Internet
is changing constantly (on a hourly basis). The World Wide Web is quickly becoming
people's first and most commonly used interface for accessing the Internet (but
remember, even this could change!).
For now, you may choose to run your email, ftp, and telnet
sessions, as well as read your Usenet newsgroups via a Web browser. Using just
one client (the Web browser) to accomplish all of these tasks has many advantages.
It may be most convenient to have only one application open on your computer
and it is certainly easier to learn just one interface rather than many. We
have a similar situation when must chose to go either the "one-stop-shopping"
supermarket or the specialized GreenGrocer. On the other hand, while Web browsers
are constantly improving these added features (such as email, newsreaders,
talk, conferencing sessions) you may still wish to install and run additional,
stand-alone clients (such as a ftp application) to take advantage of their specialized,
What is a Web
To publish documents on the Web, you will need access to a "server".
You will store your Web documents in a special directory (created just for your
files) on that Web server's hard drive. A server is just a computer connected
to the Internet which runs Web client/server software (meaning it uses HTTP
Hypertext Transfer Protocol to listen for requests for files from browsers
and then delivers the files). The Web server waits until a Web browser connects
to it (via it's URL) and makes a request. The Web server then locates the appropriate
file and sends it back to the browser. The first Web program ran on a UNIX system
and therefore many Web server software programs continue to be written for the
UNIX platform. The two most widely used are CERN'S HTTPD and NCSA's HTTPD both
free. However, there is now a flood of PC and Macintosh software for running
a web server.
Server access then is obviously very important: it's what allows
an HTML file to really become a web page that can be accessed by everyone else
on the world wide web. As a student at MSU, you have free access to a web server
based on your email account. The server space is named after the file system
used to run and organize the system, "AFS." But you do have alternatives:
- Geocities. This
is a service that provides the server access for free web pages to anyone.
They give you lots of space-- 20 megs-- and the interface for uploading
files and setting up directories is very easy. There are some significant
problems with Geocities, though. They make their money from advertising,
so every time you bring up a Geocities web page, you also bring up advertising
that appears in a separate window that is very annoying for those folks
coming to visit your site. Plus, because the volume at Geocities is quite
high, sometimes it can take a long time for pages to load.
- Another "free web page" service. There are a
lot of other places to turn besides Geocities-- tripod
and xoom are two that come to mind. I'm
less experienced with these services, but as far as I can tell, they are
similar to Geocities. One very useful resource for finding out more about
getting free web pages is "FreeWebspace.Net,"
which is a searchable directory of free web hosting companies. The site
features lots of links and information to the many companies-- large and
small, good and bad-- that provide free web server space. One last thing
to keep in mind with the "free" option: you do get what you pay
for. If reliability and flexibility in your web design are going to be important
in your work, you might want to consider one of the other options I describe
- A commercial Internet service provider (ISP) of your own.
There are a wide variety of local and national services that provide email,
Internet access, and Web server access for less than $20 a month. For some,
this is a potentially useful option, and some of you who already have some
sort of ISP that you're paying for may want to check with this company for
details on what's available.
What is a Home
Sometimes also called Web documents or a Web page
or a Lexia, a home page is a single file, stored on the hard drive of a
Web server (a computer running Web server software), which is retrieved and
formatted by a Web browser. Your Web page contains text and hypermedia (graphics,
sound files, video clips, etc. if you chose) and is constructed (behind the
scenes) with HTML. The home page is the first of your set of Web pages.
It is the place where most people start exploring or "browsing " your
set of Web pages. You may have just one "page" or you may develop
a Web site that has many linked documents.
A Web page devoted to your course(s) makes it possible for your
course syllabus, lecture notes, readings, and extracurricular materials to be
available on-line 24 hours to your students. Also, the immediate nature of Web
publishing can greatly accelerate and enhance the exchange of research data
and ideas, and stimulate conversation among colleagues. Also, web pages are
increasingly useful as a way of organizing and disseminating information within
a business office or any institution.
For your own personal use, a Web page might be the place where
you develop and store a copy of your curriculum vitae and publish your work.
Also, a Web page can be used "off-line" (not connected to the Internet)
as your own personal information manager. You can keep track of important references,
addresses, notes, frequently visited Internet sites, etc.
What do I need
to create a web page?
- A computer running a text editor or some word processing
- A basic understanding of HTML tags
- An account on a Web server
- A computer with an Internet connection, running a Web Browser
(so that you can view your Web page in progress)
- A word processor (and/or Web Authoring software)
- A basic understanding of HTML tags
- An account on a Web server or your own Web server software
installed on your desktop computer.
- Access to graphics software to help you prepare images for
you Web page (for example, Adobe Photoshop )
- A File Transfer Protocol utility (the means to move
your Web documents to your account on the Web server)
- A Web Editor (Visual Page, Netscape Composer, PageMill, Dreamweaver)
that allows you to create web pages without needing to type HTML tags.
I put on my Web Page?
Each Network and/or local Web server administrator may post
some version of an acceptable use policy. Check the MSUnet
Acceptable Use Policy for an example of typical guidelines on the creation
and appropriate use of a Web page [see the full policy statement under the MSU
Gopher, gopher://burrow.cl.msu.edu:70/00/msu/policy/MSU]. As you might guess,
common sense prevails here...one is not to use a Web page for harassment, private
business or for-profit advertising.
Also, when designing and building your home page, you will want
to be careful to observe copyright restrictions when displaying the works of
other authors, artists, designers, etc.
What are Key Internet Terms?
- (Advanced Digital Network) -- Usually refers to a 56Kbps
- See these related term(s): DSL
- Anonymous FTP
- See these related term(s): FTP
- A small Java program that can be embedded in an HTML
page. Applets differ from full-fledged Java applications in that they are
not allowed to access certain resources on the local computer, such as files
and serial devices (modems, printers, etc.), and are prohibited from communicating
with most other computers across a network. The current rule is that an applet
can only make an Internet connection to the computer from which the applet
See these related term(s): HTML , Java
- A tool (software) for finding files stored on anonymous
FTP sites. You need to know the exact file name or a substring of it.
- (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) -- The precursor
to the Internet. Developed in the late 60s and early 70s by the US
Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking that would
survive a nuclear war.
See these related term(s): Internet
- (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) -- This
is the de facto world-wide standard for the code numbers used by computers
to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation,
etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes each of which can be represented by
a 7 digit binary number: 0000000 through 1111111.
- A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major
pathway within a network. The term is relative as a backbone in a small network
will likely be much smaller than many non-backbone lines in a large network.
See these related term(s): Network
- How much stuff you can send through a connection. Usually
measured in bits-per-second. A full page of English text is about 16,000 bits.
A fast modem can move about 15,000 bits in one second. Full-motion full-screen
video would require roughly 10,000,000 bits-per-second, depending on compression.
See these related term(s): Bps, Bit , T-1
- In common usage the baud rate of a modem is how many
bits it can send or receive per second. Technically, baud is the number
of times per second that the carrier signal shifts value - for example a 1200
bit-per-second modem actually runs at 300 baud, but it moves 4 bits per baud
(4 x 300 = 1200 bits per second).
See these related term(s): Bit , Modem
- (Bulletin Board System) -- A computerized meeting and announcement
system that allows people to carry on discussions, upload and download files,
and make announcements without the people being connected to the computer
at the same time. There are many thousands (millions?) of BBS’s around the
world, most are very small, running on a single IBM clone PC with 1 or 2 phone
lines. Some are very large and the line between a BBS and a system like CompuServe
gets crossed at some point, but it is not clearly drawn.
- (BINary HEXadecimal) -- A method for converting non-text
files (non-ASCII) into ASCII. This is needed because Internet email
can only handle ASCII.
See these related term(s): ASCII , MIME , UUENCODE
- (Binary DigIT) -- A single digit number in base-2, in other
words, either a 1 or a zero. The smallest unit of computerized data. Bandwidth
is usually measured in bits-per-second.
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , Bps , Byte , Kilobyte
- (Because It’s Time NETwork (or Because It’s There NETwork))
-- A network of educational sites separate from the Internet, but email
is freely exchanged between BITNET and the Internet. Listservs®,
the most popular form of email discussion groups, originated on BITNET. BITNET
machines are usually mainframes running the VMS operating system, and the
network is probably the only international network that is shrinking.
- (Bits-Per-Second) -- A measurement of how fast data is moved
from one place to another. A 28.8 modem can move 28,800 bits per second.
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , Bit
- A Client program (software) that is used to look at
various kinds of Internet resources.
See these related term(s): Client , URL , WWW , Netscape
, Mosaic , Home Page (or Homepage)
- (By The Way) -- A shorthand appended to a comment written
in an online forum.
See these related term(s): IMHO , TTFN
- A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually
there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement
is being made.
See these related term(s): Bit
- Certificate Authority
- An issuer of Security Certificates used in SSL
See these related term(s): Security Certificate , SSL
- (Common Gateway Interface) -- A set of rules that describe
how a Web Server communicates with another piece of software
on the same machine, and how the other piece of software (the “CGI program”)
talks to the web server. Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it
handles input and output according to the CGI standard.
Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server
and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an email
message, or turning the data into a database query.
You can often see that a CGI program is being used by seeing “cgi-bin” in
a URL, but not always.
See these related term(s): cgi-bin , Web
- The most common name of a directory on a web server in which
CGI programs are stored.
The “bin” part of “cgi-bin” is a shorthand version of “binary”, because once
upon a time, most programs were refered to as “binaries”. In real life, most
programs found in cgi-bin directories are text files -- scripts that are executed
by binaries located elsewhere on the same machine.
See these related term(s): CGI
- A software program that is used to contact and obtain data
from a Server software program on another computer, often across a
great distance. Each Client program is designed to work with one or
more specific kinds of Server programs, and each Server requires
a specific kind of Client. A Web Browser is a specific kind
See these related term(s): Browser , Server
- Most often used to refer to having a server that belongs
to one person or group physically located on an Internet-connected
network that belongs to another person or group. Usually this is done
because the server owner wants their machine to be on a high-speed Internet
connection and/or they do not want the security risks of having the server
on thier own network.
See these related term(s): Internet , Server , Network
- The most common meaning of “Cookie” on the Internet refers
to a piece of information sent by a Web Server to a Web Browser
that the Browser software is expected to save and to send back to the Server
whenever the browser makes additional requests from the Server.
Depending on the type of Cookie used, and the Browser’s settings, the Browser
may accept or not accept the Cookie, and may save the Cookie for either a
short time or a long time.
Cookies might contain information such as login or registration information,
online “shopping cart” information, user preferences, etc.
When a Server receives a request from a Browser that includes a Cookie, the
Server is able to use the information stored in the Cookie. For example, the
Server might customize what is sent back to the user, or keep a log of particular
Cookies are usually set to expire after a predetermined amount of time and
are usually saved in memory until the Browser software is closed down, at
which time they may be saved to disk if their “expire time” has not been reached.
Cookies do not read your hard drive and send your life story
to the CIA, but they can be used to gather more information about a user than
would be possible without them.
See these related term(s): Browser , Server
- Cyberpunk was originally a cultural sub-genre of science
fiction taking place in a not-so-distant, dystopian, over-industrialized society.
The term grew out of the work of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and has
evolved into a cultural label encompassing many different kinds of human,
machine, and punk attitudes. It includes clothing and lifestyle choices as
See these related term(s): Cyberspace
- Term originated by author William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer
the word Cyberspace is currently used to describe the whole range of information
resources available through computer networks.
- The digital version of literati, it is a reference to a vague
cloud of people seen to be knowledgeable, hip, or otherwise in-the-know in
regards to the digital revolution.
- (Digital Subscriber Line) -- A method for moving data over
regular phone lines. A DSL circuit is much faster than a regular phone connection,
and the wires coming into the subscriber’s premises are the same (copper)
wires used for regular phone service. A DSL circuit must be configured to
connect two specific locations, similar to a leased line.
A commonly discussed configuration of DSL allows downloads at speeds of up
to 1.544 megabits (not megabytes) per second, and uploads
at speeds of 128 kilobits per second. This arrangement is called ADSL: “Asymmetric”
Digital Subscriber Line.
Another common configuration is symmetrical: 384 Kilobits per second in both
In theory ADSL allows download speeds of up to 9 megabits per second and upload
speeds of up to 640 kilobits per second.
DSL is now a popular alternative to Leased Lines and ISDN, being
faster than ISDN and less costly than traditional Leased Lines.
See these related term(s): bit , bps , ISDN , Leased Line
- Domain Name
- The unique name that identifies an Internet site. Domain
Names always have 2 or more parts, separated by dots. The part on the left
is the most specific, and the part on the right is the most general. A given
machine may have more than one Domain Name but a given Domain Name points
to only one machine. For example, the domain names:
can all refer to the same machine, but each domain name can refer to no more
than one machine.
Usually, all of the machines on a given Network will have the same
thing as the right-hand portion of their Domain Names (matisse.net
in the examples above). It is also possible for a Domain Name to exist but
not be connected to an actual machine. This is often done so that a group
or business can have an Internet email address without having to establish
a real Internet site. In these cases, some real Internet machine must handle
the mail on behalf of the listed Domain Name.
See these related term(s): IP Number
- (Electronic Mail) -- Messages, usually text, sent from one
person to another via computer. email can also be sent automatically to a
large number of addresses (Mailing List).
See these related term(s): Listserv® , Maillist
- A very common method of networking computers in a LAN.
Ethernet will handle about 10,000,000 bits-per-second and can be used with
almost any kind of computer.
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , LAN
- (Frequently Asked Questions) -- FAQs are documents that list
and answer the most common questions on a particular subject. There are hundreds
of FAQs on subjects as diverse as Pet Grooming and Cryptography. FAQs are
usually written by people who have tired of answering the same question over
- (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) -- A standard for transmitting
data on optical fiber cables at a rate of around 100,000,000 bits-per-second
(10 times as fast as Ethernet, about twice as fast as T-3).
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , Ethernet , T-1 ,
- An Internet software tool for locating people on other Internet
sites. Finger is also sometimes used to give access to non-personal information,
but the most common use is to see if a person has an account at a particular
Internet site. Many sites do not allow incoming Finger requests, but many
- Fire Wall
- A combination of hardware and software that separates a LAN
into two or more parts for security purposes.
See these related term(s): Network , LAN
- Originally, flame meant to carry forth in a passionate manner
in the spirit of honorable debate. Flames most often involved the use of flowery
language and flaming well was an art form. More recently flame has come to
refer to any kind of derogatory comment no matter how witless or crude.
See these related term(s): Flame War
- Flame War
- When an online discussion degenerates into a series of personal
attacks against the debators, rather than discussion of their positions. A
See these related term(s): Flame
- (File Transfer Protocol) -- A very common method of moving
files between two Internet sites. FTP is a special way to login to
another Internet site for the purposes of retrieving and/or sending files.
There are many Internet sites that have established publicly accessible repositories
of material that can be obtained using FTP, by logging in using the account
name anonymous, thus these sites are called anonymous ftp servers.
- The technical meaning is a hardware or software set-up that
translates between two dissimilar protocols, for example Prodigy has a gateway
that translates between its internal, proprietary email format and Internet
email format. Another, sloppier meaning of gateway is to describe any mechanism
for providing access to another system, e.g. AOL might be called a gateway
to the Internet.
- (Graphic Interchange Format) -- A common format for image
files, especially suitable for images containing large areas of the same color.
GIF format files of simple images are often smaller than the same file would
be if stored in JPEG format, but GIF format does not store photographic
images as well as JPEG.
See these related term(s): JPEG
- 1000 or 1024 Megabytes, depending on who is measuring.
See these related term(s): Byte , Megabyte
- A widely successful method of making menus of material available
over the Internet. Gopher is a Client and Server style program,
which requires that the user have a Gopher Client program. Although
Gopher spread rapidly across the globe in only a couple of years, it has been
largely supplanted by Hypertext, also known as WWW (World Wide Web).
There are still thousands of Gopher Servers on the Internet and we
can expect they will remain for a while.
See these related term(s): Client , Server , WWW , Hypertext
- As used in reference to the World Wide Web, “hit” means a
single request from a web browser for a single item from a web server;
thus in order for a web browser to display a page that contains 3 graphics,
4 “hits” would occur at the server: 1 for the HTML page, and one for
each of the 3 graphics.
“hits” are often used as a very rough measure of load on a server, e.g. “Our
server has been getting 300,000 hits per month.” Because each “hit” can represent
anything from a request for a tiny document (or even a request for a missing
document) all the way to a request that requires some significant extra processing
(such as a complex search request), the actual load on a machine from 1 hit
is almost impossible to define.
- Home Page (or Homepage)
- Several meanings. Originally, the web page that your
browser is set to use when it starts up. The more common meaning refers
to the main web page for a business, organization, person or simply the main
page out of a collection of web pages, e.g. “Check out so-and-so’s new Home
Another sloppier use of the term refers to practically any web page as a “homepage,”
e.g. “That web site has 65 homepages and none of them are interesting.”
See these related term(s): Browser , Web
- Any computer on a network that is a repository for
services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common
to have one host machine provide several services, such as WWW and
See these related term(s): Node , Network
- (HyperText Markup Language) -- The coding language used to
create Hypertext documents for use on the World Wide Web. HTML
looks a lot like old-fashioned typesetting code, where you surround a block
of text with codes that indicate how it should appear, additionally, in HTML
you can specify that a block of text, or a word, is linked to another file
on the Internet. HTML files are meant to be viewed using a World Wide Web
Client Program, such as Netscape or Mosaic.
See these related term(s): Client , Server , WWW
- (HyperText Transfer Protocol) -- The protocol for moving
hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client
program on one end, and an HTTP server program on the other end. HTTP
is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web (WWW).
See these related term(s): Client , Server , WWW
- Generally, any text that contains links to other documents--words
or phrases in the document that can be chosen by a reader and which cause
another document to be retrieved and displayed.
- (In My Humble Opinion) -- A shorthand appended to a comment
written in an online forum, IMHO indicates that the writer is aware that they
are expressing a debatable view, probably on a subject already under discussion.
One of may such shorthands in common use online, especially in discussion
See these related term(s): TTFN , BTW
- (Upper case I) The vast collection of inter-connected
networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols and that evolved from the ARPANET
of the late 60s and early 70s. The Internet now (July 1995) connects roughly
60,000 independent networks into a vast global internet.
See these related term(s): internet
- (Lower case i) Any time you connect 2 or more networks
together, you have an internet - as in inter-national or inter-state.
See these related term(s): Internet , Network
- A private network inside a company or organization
that uses the same kinds of software that you would find on the public Internet,
but that is only for internal use.
As the Internet has become more popular many of the tools used on the Internet
are being used in private networks, for example, many companies have web servers
that are available only to employees.
Note that an Intranet may not actually be an internet -- it may simply be
See these related term(s): internet , Internet , Network
- IP Number
- (Internet Protocol Number) -- Sometimes called a dotted quad.
A unique number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, e.g.
Every machine that is on the Internet has a unique IP number - if a machine
does not have an IP number, it is not really on the Internet. Most machines
also have one or more Domain Names that are easier for people to remember.
See these related term(s): Domain Name , Internet , TCP/IP
- (Internet Relay Chat) -- Basically a huge multi-user live
chat facility. There are a number of major IRC servers around the world
which are linked to each other. Anyone can create a channel and anything that
anyone types in a given channel is seen by all others in the channel. Private
channels can (and are) created for multi-person conference calls.
- (Integrated Services Digital Network) -- Basically a way
to move more data over existing regular phone lines. ISDN is rapidly becoming
available to much of the USA and in most markets it is priced very comparably
to standard analog phone circuits. It can provide speeds of roughly 128,000
bits-per-second over regular phone lines. In practice, most people will be
limited to 56,000 or 64,000 bits-per-second.
- (Internet Service Provider) -- An institution that provides
access to the Internet in some form, usually for money.
See these related term(s): Internet
- Java is a network-oriented programming language invented
by Sun Microsystems that is specifically designed for writing programs that
can be safely downloaded to your computer through the Internet and immediately
run without fear of viruses or other harm to your computer or files. Using
small Java programs (called "Applets"), Web pages can include
functions such as animations, calculators, and other fancy tricks.
We can expect to see a huge variety of features added to the Web using Java,
since you can write a Java program to do almost anything a regular computer
program can do, and then include that Java program in a Web page.
See these related term(s): Applet
- (Java Development Kit) -- A software development package
from Sun Microsystems that implements the basic set of tools needed to write,
test and debug Java applications and applets
See these related term(s): Applet , Java
- (Joint Photographic Experts Group) -- JPEG is most commonly
mentioned as a format for image files. JPEG format is preferred to the GIF
format for photographic images as opposed to line art or simple logo art.
See these related term(s): GIF
- A thousand bytes. Actually, usually 1024 (2^10) bytes.
See these related term(s): Byte , Bit
- (Local Area Network) -- A computer network limited to the
immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
See these related term(s): Ethernet
- Leased Line
- Refers to a phone line that is rented for exclusive 24-hour,
7-days-a-week use from your location to another location. The highest speed
data connections require a leased line.
See these related term(s): T-1 , T-3, DSL
- The most common kind of maillist, "Listserv"
is a registered trademark of L-Soft international, Inc. Listservs originated
on BITNET but they are now common on the Internet.
See these related term(s): BITNET , Email , Maillist
- Noun or a verb. Noun: The account name used to gain access
to a computer system. Not a secret (contrast with Password).
Verb: The act of entering into a computer system, e.g. Login to the WELL
and then go to the GBN conference.
See these related term(s): Password
- (or Mailing List) A (usually automated) system that
allows people to send email to one address, whereupon their message
is copied and sent to all of the other subscribers to the maillist. In this
way, people who have many different kinds of email access can participate
in discussions together.
- A million bytes. Actually, technically, 1024 kilobytes.
See these related term(s): Byte , Bit , Kilobyte
- (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) -- The standard for
attaching non-text files to standard Internet mail messages. Non-text files
include graphics, spreadsheets, formatted word-processor documents, sound
An email program is said to be MIME Compliant if it can both send and receive
files using the MIME standard.
When non-text files are sent using the MIME standard they are converted (encoded)
into text - although the resulting text is not really readable.
Generally speaking the MIME standard is a way of specifying both the type
of file being sent (e.g. a Quicktime™ video file), and the method that should
be used to turn it back into its original form.
Besides email software, the MIME standard is also universally used by Web
Servers to identify the files they are sending to Web Clients,
in this way new file formats can be accommodated simply by updating the Browsers’
list of pairs of MIME-Types and appropriate software for handling each type.
See these related term(s): Browser , Client , Server , Binhex
- Generally speaking, “to mirror” is to maintain an exact copy
of something. Probably the most common use of the term on the Internet refers
to “mirror sites” which are web sites, or FTP sites that maintain
exact copies of material originated at another location, usually in order
to provide more widespread access to the resource.
Another common use of the term “mirror” refers to an arrangement where information
is written to more than one hard disk simultaneously, so that if one disk
fails, the computer keeps on working without losing anything.
See these related term(s): FTP , Web
- (MOdulator, DEModulator) -- A device that you connect to
your computer and to a phone line, that allows the computer to talk to other
computers through the phone system. Basically, modems do for computers what
a telephone does for humans.
- (Mud, Object Oriented) -- One of several kinds of multi-user
role-playing environments, so far only text-based.
See these related term(s): MUD , MUSE
- The first WWW browser that was available for the Macintosh,
Windows, and UNIX all with the same interface. Mosaic really started the popularity
of the Web. The source-code to Mosaic has been licensed by several companies
and there are several other pieces of software as good or better than Mosaic,
most notably, Netscape.
See these related term(s): Browser , Client , WWW
- (Multi-User Dungeon or Dimension) -- A (usually text-based)
multi-user simulation environment. Some are purely for fun and flirting, others
are used for serious software development, or education purposes and all that
lies in between. A significant feature of most MUDs is that users can create
things that stay after they leave and which other users can interact with
in their absence, thus allowing a world to be built gradually and collectively.
See these related term(s): MOO , MUSE
- (Multi-User Simulated Environment) -- One kind of MUD - usually
with little or no violence.
See these related term(s): MOO , MUD
- The etiquette on the Internet.
See these related term(s): Internet
- Derived from the term citizen, referring to a citizen of
the Internet, or someone who uses networked resources. The term connotes
civic responsibility and participation.
See these related term(s): Internet
- A WWW Browser and the name of a company. The Netscape
(tm) browser was originally based on the Mosaic program developed at
the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
Netscape has grown in features rapidly and is widely recognized as the best
and most popular web browser. Netscape corporation also produces web server
Netscape provided major improvements in speed and interface over other browsers,
and has also engendered debate by creating new elements for the HTML
language used by Web pages -- but the Netscape extensions to HTML are not
The main author of Netscape, Mark Andreessen, was hired away from the NCSA
by Jim Clark, and they founded a company called Mosaic Communications and
soon changed the name to Netscape Communications Corporation.
See these related term(s): Browser , Mosaic , Server , WWW
- Any time you connect 2 or more computers together so that
they can share resources, you have a computer network. Connect 2 or more networks
together and you have an internet.
See these related term(s): internet , Internet , Intranet
- The name for discussion groups on USENET.
See these related term(s): USENET
- (Networked Information Center) -- Generally, any office that
handles information for a network. The most famous of these on the Internet
is the InterNIC, which is where new domain names are registered.
Another definition: NIC also refers to Network Interface Card which plugs
into a computer and
adapts the network interface to the appropriate standard. ISA, PCI, and PCMCIA
cards are all examples of NICs.
- (Network News Transport Protocol) -- The protocol used by
client and server software to carry USENET postings back
and forth over a TCP/IP network. If you are using any of the
more common software such as Netscape, Nuntius, Internet Explorer,
etc. to participate in newsgroups then you are benefiting from an NNTP
See these related term(s): Newsgroup , TCP/IP , USENET
- Any single computer connected to a network.
See these related term(s): Network , Internet , internet
- Packet Switching
- The method used to move data around on the Internet.
In packet switching, all the data coming out of a machine is broken up into
chunks, each chunk has the address of where it came from and where it is going.
This enables chunks of data from many different sources to co-mingle on the
same lines, and be sorted and directed to different routes by special machines
along the way. This way many people can use the same lines at the same time.
- A code used to gain access to a locked system. Good passwords
contain letters and non-letters and are not simple combinations such as virtue7.
A good password might be:
See these related term(s): Login
- A (usually small) piece of software that adds features to
a larger piece of software. Common examples are plug-ins for the Netscape®
browser and web server. Adobe Photoshop® also uses plug-ins.
The idea behind plug-ins is that a small piece of software is loaded into
memory by the larger program, adding a new feature, and that users need only
install the few plug-ins that they need, out of a much larger pool of possibilities.
Plug-ins are usually created by people other than the publishers of the software
the plug-in works with.
- (Point of Presence, also Post Office Protocol) -- Two commonly
used meanings: Point of Presence and Post Office Protocol. A Point of Presence
usually means a city or location where a network can be connected to, often
with dial up phone lines. So if an Internet company says they will soon have
a POP in Belgrade, it means that they will soon have a local phone number
in Belgrade and/or a place where leased lines can connect to their network.
A second meaning, Post Office Protocol refers to the way email software such
as Eudora gets mail from a mail server. When you obtain a SLIP, PPP, or shell
account you almost always get a POP account with it, and it is this POP account
that you tell your email software to use to get your mail.
See these related term(s): SLIP , PPP
- 3 meanings. First and most generally, a place where information
goes into or out of a computer, or both. E.g. the serial port on a personal
computer is where a modem would be connected.
On the Internet port often refers to a number that is part of a URL,
appearing after a colon (:) right after the domain name. Every service
on an Internet server listens on a particular port number on that server.
Most services have standard port numbers, e.g. Web servers normally listen
on port 80. Services can also listen on non-standard ports, in which case
the port number must be specified in a URL when accessing the server, so you
might see a URL of the form:
shows a gopher server running on a non-standard port (the standard gopher
port is 70).
Finally, port also refers to translating a piece of software to bring it from
one type of computer system to another, e.g. to translate a Windows program
so that is will run on a Macintosh.
See these related term(s): Domain Name , Server , URL
- Usually used as a marketing term to described a Web site
that is or is intended to be the first place people see when using the Web.
Typically a "Portal site" has a catalog of web sites, a search engine,
or both. A Portal site may also offer email and other service to entice people
to use that site as their main "point of entry" (hence "portal")
to the Web.
- A single message entered into a network communications system.
e.g., A single message posted to a newsgroup or message board.
See these related term(s): Newsgroup
- (Point to Point Protocol) -- Most well known as a protocol
that allows a computer to use a regular telephone line and a modem
to make TCP/IP connections and thus be really and truly on the Internet.
See these related term(s): IP Number , Internet , SLIP ,
- (Public Switched Telephone Network) -- The regular old-fashioned
- (Request For Comments) -- The name of the result and the
process for creating a standard on the Internet. New standards are
proposed and published on line, as a Request For Comments. The Internet Engineering
Task Force is a consensus-building body that facilitates discussion, and eventually
a new standard is established, but the reference number/name for the standard
retains the acronym RFC, e.g., the official standard for email is RFC
- A special-purpose computer (or software package) that handles
the connection between 2 or more networks. Routers spend all their
time looking at the destination addresses of the packets passing through
them and deciding which route to send them on.
See these related term(s): Network , Packet Switching
- Security Certificate
- A chunk of information (often stored as a text file) that
is used by the SSL protocol to establish a secure connection.
Security Certificates contain information about who it belongs to, who it
was issued by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid
dates, and an encrypted “fingerprint” that can be used to verify the contents
of the certificate.
In order for an SSL connection to be created both sides must have a valid
See these related term(s): Certificate Authority , SSL
- A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific
kind of service to client software running on other computers. The
term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server,
or to the machine on which the software is running, e.g.Our mail server is
down today, that’s why email isn’t getting out. A single server machine could
have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing
many different servers to clients on the network.
See these related term(s): Client , Network
- (Serial Line Internet Protocol) -- A standard for using a
regular telephone line (a serial line) and a modem to connect a computer
as a real Internet site. SLIP is gradually being replaced by PPP.
See these related term(s): Internet , PPP
- (Switched Multimegabit Data Service) -- A new standard for
very high-speed data transfer.
- (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) -- The main protocol used
to send electronic mail on the Internet.
SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program
receiving mail should interact.
Almost all Internet email is sent and received by clients and servers
using SMTP, thus if one wanted to set up an email server on the Internet one
would look for email server software that supports SMTP.
See these related term(s): Client , Server
- (Simple Network Management Protocol) -- A set of standards
for communication with devices connected to a TCP/IP network. Examples
of these devices include routers, hubs, and switches.
A device is said to be “SNMP compatible” if it can be monitored and/or controlled
using SNMP messages. SNMP messages are known as “PDU’s” - Protocol Data Units.
Devices that are SNMP compatible contain SNMP “agent” software to receive,
send, and act upon SNMP messages.
Software for managing devices via SNMP are available for every kind of commonly
used computer and are often bundled along with the device they are designed
to manage. Some SNMP software is designed to handle a wide variety of devices.
See these related term(s): Network , Router
- Spam (or Spamming)
- An inappropriate attempt to use a mailing list, or
USENET or other networked communications facility as if it was a broadcast
medium (which it is not) by sending the same message to a large number of
people who didn’t ask for it. The term probably comes from a famous Monty
Python skit which featured the word spam repeated over and over. The term
may also have come from someone’s low opinion of the food product with the
same name, which is generally perceived as a generic content-free waste of
resources. (Spam is a registered trademark of Hormel Corporation, for its
processed meat product.)
e.g., Mary spammed 50 USENET groups by posting the same message to each.
See these related term(s): Maillist , USENET
- (Structured Query Language) -- A specialized programming
language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many
smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application
will have its own version of SQL implementing features unique to that application,
but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL.
- (Secure Sockets Layer) -- A protocol designed by Netscape
Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the
SSL used mostly (but not exclusively) in communications between web browsers
and web servers. URL’s that begin with “https” indicate that
an SSL connection will be used.
SSL provides 3 important things: Privacy, Authentication, and Message Integrity.
In an SSL connection each side of the connection must have a Security Certificate,
which each side’s software sends to the other. Each side then encrypts what
it sends using information from both its own and the other side’s Certificate,
ensuring that only the intended recipient can de-crypt it, and that the other
side can be sure the data came from the place it claims to have come from,
and that the message has not been tampered with.
See these related term(s): Browser , Server , Security Certificate
- (System Operator) -- Anyone responsible for the physical
operations of a computer system or network resource. A System Administrator
decides how often backups and maintenance should be performed and the System
Operator performs those tasks.
- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data
at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1
line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not
fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least
10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is the fastest speed commonly used to connect
networks to the Internet.
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , Bit , Byte , Ethernet
- A leased-line connection capable of carrying data
at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen,
See these related term(s): Bandwidth , Bit , Byte , Ethernet
- (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) -- This
is the suite of protocols that defines the Internet. Originally designed
for the UNIX operating system, TCP/IP software is now available for
every major kind of computer operating system. To be truly on the Internet,
your computer must have TCP/IP software.
See these related term(s): IP Number , Internet , UNIX
- The command and program used to login from one Internet
site to another. The telnet command/program gets you to the login: prompt
of another host.
- 1000 gigabytes.
See these related term(s): Byte , Kilobyte
- A device that allows you to send commands to a computer somewhere
else. At a minimum, this usually means a keyboard and a display screen and
some simple circuitry. Usually you will use terminal software in a personal
computer - the software pretends to be (emulates) a physical terminal and
allows you to type commands to a computer somewhere else.
- Terminal Server
- A special purpose computer that has places to plug in many
modems on one side, and a connection to a LAN or host
machine on the other side. Thus the terminal server does the work of answering
the calls and passes the connections on to the appropriate node. Most
terminal servers can provide PPP or SLIP services if connected
to the Internet.
See these related term(s): LAN , Modem , Host , Node , PPP
- (User Datagram Protocol) -- One of the protocols for data
transfer that is part of the TCP/IP suite of protocols. UDP is a “stateless”
protocol in that UDP makes no provision for acknowledgement of packets received.
See these related term(s): TCP/IP
- A computer operating system (the basic software running on
a computer, underneath things like word processors and spreadsheets). UNIX
is designed to be used by many people at the same time (it is multi-user)
and has TCP/IP built-in. It is the most common operating system for
servers on the Internet.
- (Uniform Resource Locator) -- The standard way to give the
address of any resource on the Internet that is part of the World Wide Web
(WWW). A URL looks like this:
http:// sunsite.unc.edu. 80 /index.html
(protocol) (host name) (port) (path/document name)
the host name includes the domain; the four main
.edu (educational/academic institutions)
.org (organizations, e.g., nonprofit group
The most common way to use a URL is to enter into a WWW browser program, such
as Netscape, or Lynx.
See these related term(s): Browser , WWW
- A world-wide system of discussion groups, with comments passed
among hundreds of thousands of machines. Not all USENET machines are on the
Internet, maybe half. USENET is completely decentralized, with over
10,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.
See these related term(s): Newsgroup
- (Unix to Unix Encoding) -- A method for converting files
from Binary to ASCII (text) so that they can be sent across
the Internet via email.
See these related term(s): Binhex , MIME
- (Very Easy Rodent Oriented Net-wide Index to Computerized
Archives) -- Developed at the University of Nevada, Veronica is a constantly
updated database of the names of almost every menu item on thousands of gopher
servers. The Veronica database can be searched from most major gopher
See these related term(s): Gopher
- (Virtual Private Network) -- Usually refers to a network
in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet,
but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted, so the entire network
is "virtually" private.
A typical example would be a company network where there
are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet the two offices
mereg their networks into one network, but encrypt traffic that uses the
See these related term(s): Internet, Network
- (Wide Area Information Servers) -- A commercial software
package that allows the indexing of huge quantities of information, and then
making those indices searchable across networks such as the Internet.
A prominent feature of WAIS is that the search results are ranked (scored)
according to how relevant the hits are, and that subsequent searches can find
more stuff like that last batch and thus refine the search process.
- (Wide Area Network) -- Any internet or network
that covers an area larger than a single building or campus.
See these related term(s): Internet , LAN , Network
- See these related term(s): WWW
- (World Wide Web) -- Frequently used (incorrectly) when referring
to "The Internet", WWW has two major meanings - First, loosely used:
the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using Gopher,
FTP, HTTP, telnet, USENET, WAIS and some other tools. Second, the universe
of hypertext servers (HTTP servers) which are the servers that allow
text, graphics, sound files, etc. to be mixed together.
See these related term(s): Browser , FTP , Gopher , HTTP
, Internet , Telnet , URL , WAIS
For more information about the
internet go to Internet History.
Copyright(c)1998; MATRIX: The Center
for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Science On-Line;
All Rights Reserved.