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Also known as the worldwide web, or simply the web, the Internet gives people all over the world access to vast amounts of information. The web is a worldwide network that adheres to specific methods of data transfer in order to establish a standardized communication highway. Information is transferred through telephone lines that read and transfer data back and forth between a computer and a website. Anyone with access can send and receive information over the web by using Internet-enabled software, which understands the online protocols, or language, of the Internet.
The backbone of the world wide web consists of a powerful set of telephone lines including T3 lines, capable of transferring data at a very fast rate of about 45 megabytes per second. The lines link metropolitan cities and include national access points or feeds. These feeds are equivalent to major highways on a road map, explaining why the Internet is often referred to as the Information Superhighway.
The telephone lines are operated and maintained by various companies and organizations working cooperatively, without centralized ownership. Redundancy is built into the data routes of the web so that if one or more major lines go down, traffic can be rerouted, much like a traffic detour when a highway is temporarily under construction. While this might slow Internet traffic, it will not ‘break’ the world wide web.
While T3 lines provide the backbone for the web, secondary lines provide local support by establishing dedicated lines that link into the web’s data routes at national access points. Revisiting the map analogy, these smaller lines can be equated with boulevards and major streets that lead to freeways. These alternate lines are leased and maintained by various Internet Service Provider (ISP) co-ops using routers to direct traffic.
Internet Protocol Address
Every computer connected to the web is assigned a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. When using a computer, one can point-and-click on a website link, at which point the browser sends out a request that is addressed to the website that houses the desired content. Routers along the way read the data packet’s address and relay it along the best route available.
When the data packet arrives at the website, the server reads the request and sends the requested page back to the computer via a return address in the data packet: this is the computer’s IP address. The data packet is routed back to the computer in several data packages, and the browser interprets the content and displays the page on the screen. In essence, the world wide web is akin to a highway filled with rushing data packets versus cars.
The first whisperings of an Internet-like network reach all the way back to Leonard Kleinrock’s, "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets," 1961, and J.C.R. Licklider / W. Clark’s, "On-Line Man Computer Communication," 1962. Licklider then headed up the United States Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to develop these designs into what was to become the Internet, initially dubbed the ARPANET. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) funded the project in 1969, interested in developing a non-centralized, redundant communication system that could survive a nuclear attack. The rest, as they say, is history.