Basics of the Internet and The World Wide Web

After reading this article, you will be able to:
• Understand how the internet works
• Know the history of the internet
• Send and receive emails on the internet
• Search and find information on the Internet
• Differentiate between the Internet and the World Wide Web
• Understand the concept of HTML


The Internet is a system that connects computer networks all over the world. The Internet connects millions of computers in several countries. It allows your computer to get information stored on other computers far away. Some networks have only a few computers. Some networks have thousands of computers. Computers connect to the Internet through telephone line and cable systems.


The Internet grew out of a computer network called ARPANET which is a network of computers created by The United States military in the early 1960s. From the 1970s until the late 1980s, the U.S. government only let a some scientists and people in the military use it. In the 1980s, the government let allow networks at universities join with ARPANET to create the Internet. The Internet grew quickly. Schools, libraries, local and state governments, companies, and families were on the Internet by the mid-1990s.

Timothy Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in the 1980s.


At first, it was hard to get information from the Internet. You could only see words and numbers on your computer screen. Then a British computer scientist named Timothy Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in the 1980s.
You need computer software called a Web browser to find and see Web pages. Each Web page has a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The URL is like an address that the browser looks for. An example of a URL is:

URL – Uniform Resource Locator

It is generally believed by many that the Internet became so popular because of the Web. The Web is easier to use than the Internet by itself. By the end of 2000, more than 80 percent of all the information passing through the Internet highway came from the Web.


A browser is a program that enables a computer to locate, download, and display documents containing text, sound, video, graphics, animation, and photographs located on computer networks. The act of viewing and moving about between documents on computer networks is called browsing. Users browse through documents on open, public-access networks called internets, or on closed networks called intranets.


Parts of the Browser

Menu Bar
Menu Bar
Address Box
Address Box
Progress Bar
Progress Bar
Status Bar
Status Bar

Title Bar: This is the first part of the browser window. It contains two things: The name of the browser and the title of the current page.
Menu Bar: This bar contains Menus like, File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools and Help. You use the file menu to Open, Close, Save, Print and to perform other necessary functions on the page.
Address Bar: This is the most frequently used part of the browser. The address bar contains the address box, where you type in the address or URL of the site you want to browse.
Status Bar: When a page is loading, or any other action is taking place, the status bar displays a text telling you the status of the operation being performed.
When browsing, you must always WAIT for the progress bar to count to the end and disappear before you click on any other link.
Progress Bar: Each time a new page starts loading the progress bar tells you the extent to which the page has loaded. The progress bar starts moving when you click a link, refresh a page or request for a web page.

Browsers make it possible for users to access information on the Web by locating documents on remote computers. Computers that contain the information for the Web are known as Web servers. A browser downloads information to a user’s computer through a device called the modem (modulator demodulator) and then displays the information on the computer.
Most browsers can display a variety of text and graphics that may be integrated into such a document, including animation, audio and video.
Examples of Browsers
• Microsoft Internet Explorer
• Mozilla Firefox
• Opera
• Crazy Browser
• Netscape
• Mosaic
Browsers makes you have a feeling of traveling to an actual location in virtual space (hyperspace) where the document you are browsing is locate. This virtual location in hyperspace is referred to as a node, or a Web site. The process of virtual travel between Web sites is called navigating.
Documents on networks are called hypertext if the media is text only or hypermedia if the media includes graphics as well as text. Every hypertext or hypermedia document on an internet has a unique address called a uniform resource locator (URL).

Hypertext documents usually contain references to other URLs that appear in bold, underlined, or colored text. The user can connect to the site indicated by the URL by clicking on it.
This use of a URL within a Web site is known as a hyperlink. When the user clicks on a hyperlink, the browser moves to this next server and downloads and displays the document targeted by the link. Using this method, browsers can rapidly take users back and forth between different sites.


Another commonly used Internet service is the World Wide Web(www). The World Wide Web is not the same as the Internet. The “Web” comprises information including text, images and videos that users can access. This information reside in the internet. Typically, Web pages contain links to other Web pages so that users can move from one site to another without having to enter new addresses each time.
The difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web can be illustrated using delivery trucks and a network of roads. The network of roads makes it possible for the delivery truck to carry goods to different parts of town. Similarly, the Internet provides a system for information to be distributed to users across the globe.
As mentioned earlier, the World Wide Web was introduced into the internet in the early 1980s.
The difference between the Internet and the Web is sort of like the difference between highways and a delivery service. Delivery service trucks use highways to move packages from one place to another. The Web is like the delivery service. The Internet is like the highways. Information traffic from the Web travels over the Internet.

The Internet is like the highway, while the World Wide Web is like trucks carrying goods on the highway

The Web is made of places called websites. People use special computer programs to build websites. Examples are Dreamweaver and WordPress. The sites are stored on computers called Web servers. Each site is made up of documents called Web pages. These Web pages can have text, pictures, sounds, and videos.
Web pages come from Web servers that organizations set up to make information available. When you access a Web page, either by typing the URL in the address bar or by clicking a link to that page, the server containing the page sends that page to your computer. Every time you receive data from the Internet, whether by e-mail, FTP, or the Web, you are downloading that information. Every time you send data, such as sending an e-mail or posting a message, you are uploading.
FTP – File Transfer Protocol

Uses of the Internet
Companies, individuals, and institutions use the Internet in many ways. Companies use the Internet for electronic commerce, also called e-commerce, including advertising, selling, buying, distributing products, and providing customer service. In addition, companies use the Internet for business-to-business transactions, such as exchanging financial information and accessing complex databases.
• Businesses and institutions use the Internet for voice and video conferencing and other forms of communication that enable people to telecommute (work away from the office using a computer).
• The use of e-mail speeds communication between companies, among coworkers, and among other individuals.
• Media and entertainment companies run online news and weather services over the Internet, distribute music and movies, and actually broadcast audio and video, including live radio and television programs.
• File sharing services let individuals swap music, movies, photos, and applications, provided they do not violate copyright protections.
• Online chat allows people to carry on discussions using written text.
• Instant messaging enables people to exchange text messages; share digital photo, video, and audio files; and play games in real time.
• Scientists and scholars use the Internet to communicate with colleagues, perform research, distribute lecture notes and course materials to students, and publish papers and articles.
• Individuals use the Internet for communication, entertainment, finding information, and buying and selling goods and services.


The internet can be used to get information on any subject you want.

Search Engines
Search Engines are programs that help users find information on the Internet. A user enters search terms, typically by typing a keyword or phrase, and the search engine retrieves a list of World Wide Web (WWW) sites, personal computer files, or documents, either by scanning the content stored on the computers or computer networks being searched or by parsing (analyzing) an index of their stored data.

Search engines are most often used to find pages, files, news, images, and other data on the Web.
Some of the most popular Web search engines
• Google Inc., (
• Microsoft Network (MSN) Search (
• Yahoo! Inc. (
• Alltheweb (
Each can be accessed from any Web browser, and each can be used for free.
HyperText Markup Language
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the language of Web pages. The HTML language is used to create Web page code, which is converted by your browser into the Web pages that you see when you browse the Internet. HTML supports text, hyperlinks, graphics, and streaming media, such as video clips or sound files that play when you view the Web page.

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