What is the Internet?


The Internet is a giant worldwide network (linked group of computers) which interconnects innumerable smaller groups of linked computer networks. In a way the Internet is a network of smaller networks. These small networks are often called "local area networks (LANs)". For example, at many Canadian colleges, computers are linked to each other through LANs for the purpose of exchanging files and messages and sharing equipment such as printers.





Local Area Network


Local Area Network (LAN)



Some networks are "closed" networks, meaning they are not linked to other computers or networks. Many networks, however, are connected to other networks, which are in turn connected to other networks in a manner which permits each computer in any network to communicate with computers on any other network in the system. This global web of linked networks and computers is the Internet.


Creation of the Internet and the Development of Cyberspace


The Internet had its origins in 1969 as an experimental project of the Advanced Research Project Agency "ARPA". First called ARPANET, the network linked computers and computer networks owned by the military, defense contractors, and university laboratories conducting defense-related research. The network later allowed researchers across the country to access extremely powerful supercomputers located at a few key universities and laboratories. As it evolved far beyond its research origins in the United States to encompass universities, corporations, and individuals around the world, the ARPANET came to be called the "DARPA Internet," and finally just the "Internet".

At the same time that ARPANET was maturing, similar decentralized networks developed to link universities, research facilities, businesses, and individuals around the world. These other formal or loose networks included BITNET, CSNET, FIDONET, and USENET. Eventually, each of these networks were themselves linked together, allowing users of any computer linked to any one of the networks to transmit communications to users of computers on other networks. It is this series of linked networks that is commonly known today as the Internet.




A Network of LANs





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