This section of the guide is intended to familiarize you with the Internet, it's history, how it works, and where it is headed. All of this is important to your learning about web design and critical to making your web sites work.
a. A Brief History
As you most likely know the Internet was at first a military tool created, during the cold war, to provide nationwide communication between strategic defense forces. This technology was later adopted by Universities where research could be done across vast distances like never before. Eventually in the early 90's an explosion of interest occurred and the U.S. Government gave over control of the Internet to private organizations that now make up your modern day world wide web.
b. How It Works
The Internet is, for the most part, a very large group of connected computers that communicate with each other using a special protocol.* It does not in fact have any information on it, but instead is a means of connecting to another computer with needed information, and accessing that information. To use the Internet you are most likely going to use a browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, etc...) that can read and decode the information passed from computer to computer. The browser calls for information from somewhere and returns it to you in a readable format. The base programming language used for most of the Internet is HTML (HyperText Markup Language).
For the sake of your sanity in future chapters lets go ahead and clear up some terminology about the Internet. If you look at the diagram your computer uses its modem to connect to the Internet. When you type in a web address what your doing is sending out a request across the Internet to another specific computer. This computer, due to the fact that it is hosting a website, is called a server, its purpose is to provide you with the information you desire. You request and it sends back information “packets” that pass through other servers on a path that eventually will end at your computer. A huge number of these servers spread out across the globe form the Internet Backbone. I could devote a whole chapter to what makes the Internet tick but this should be enough for you right now as you are just getting down the basics. For more info make sure to read in the terminology section about IP Addresses, DNS Name Servers, ISP's and TCP/IP.
c. Where Is It Headed
The future of the Internet is not yet clear. So far it has moved from a text based system to one that now can hold videos, movies and any number of types of content. Nonetheless, it is most definitely going to continue to become integrated into our daily lives and therefore is very important that you become acquainted with it now.
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