How does the Internet work?

You’re reading this article, using the internet. As you’re using Google, Facebook and other social media, play store, youtube, etc. you are contributing to the internet’s history. Over the last fifty years, technology and the functionality of the internet have transformed to become the convenient system we use in our daily lives. But do you know, the internet didn’t look this way always, nor was it so popular. In fact, in the year 2000, only 52% of US adults said they used the internet; but in 2018, that number jumped to 82%. Today we will discuss: What is the Internet? history of the internet? How does the internet work?

What is Internet?

The Internet is a huge network that connects computers all over the world. Through the Internet, people can share information and communicate with each other from anywhere across the globe with an internet connection.

Before we jump to how does the internet works, let’s have a look at how does it evolved from the beginning.

The History of Internet:

On October 29, 1969, an organization called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency) launched the first version of the internet connecting four major computers at the University of Utah, UCSB, UCLA, and Stanford Research Institute. Initially, it was named “ARPANET”.

Using this network, universities were able to access files and transmit information from one organization to the other, as well as internally. As the system evolved, it continued to connect computers from MIT, Harvard, and Carnegie Mellon and various other universities. Eventually, ARPANET was renamed “internet.”

In its earliest days, the use of the internet was only limited to computer experts, scientists, engineers, and librarians who had to learn a complicated system in order to use it. But as the technology advanced and people become more familiar with it. It became an essential tool for people all over the world.

However, the internet’s functionality changed drastically in the 70s. It was a serious time of transition for the internet. The email was introduced in 1972, libraries across the country were linked, and above all, information exchange became easier. This was the result of Transport Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) architecture. The invention of these protocols helped to standardize sharing of information over the web, making the delivery more seamless, regardless of where or how you’re accessing the internet.

When did the internet become user-friendly? In 1986, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded NSFNET and took the development of the internet to the next benchmark. NSFNET was a network of supercomputers throughout the country. This eventually evolved in Internet Backbone. (We will talk about it later).

Finally, consumers begin using the internet.

In May 1995, the NSF discontinued its sponsorship of the internet backbone. This change lifted all commercial limitations on the internet and ultimately, allowed the internet to diversify and grow rapidly. Various companies like AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy started to offer commercial internet service to consumers.

In the late nineties, the debut of WiFi and Windows 98 tech industries started developing the commercial element of the internet. This step gave companies like Microsoft access to a new audience, i.e. consumers like us. Now let’s finally move towards how does the internet work?

How does the Internet Work?

How exactly does the internet actually work? Internet is a thing that we use every single day and we completely take it for granted. A lot of people think of the internet as a cloud, something that is hanging around in the sky which is extremely complex. However, that’s not the case at all. The internet is really simple. It’s just a group of insanely large wires (to be precise optic fibre cables) connecting different computers all over the world to each other.

These wires are often referred to as ‘Internet Backbone‘. It refers to one of the principal data routes between large, strategically interconnected networks and core routers on the Internet. An Internet backbone is a very high-speed data transmission line that provides networking facilities to relatively small but high-speed Internet service providers all around the world. You may have look at how does it look like on submarinecablemap.com . Nowadays, the internet backbone is owned(managed) by many companies some of the prominent companies are UUNET, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, IBM, etc.

Some of these computers on the internet has a very special role, they have to be online 24×7 to serve us all of the data and the files that a person is requesting while accessing the websites and the computer that are doing this job are called servers. On the other hand, the computer that any user uses to access any data on the internet is called a ‘client‘.

Role of TCP and IP.

TCP and IP work together to ensure that data transmission across the internet is consistent and reliable, no matter which device you’re using or where you’re using it. When data is transferred over the internet, it’s delivered in messages and packets. Data sent over the internet is called a message, but before messages get sent, they’re broken up into tinier parts called packets. These messages and packets travel from one source to the next using Internet Protocol (IP) and Transport Control Protocol (TCP).

IP is a system of rules that govern how information is sent from one computer to another computer over an internet connection. Using a numerical address (IP Address) the IP system receives further instructions on how the data should be transferred. The Transport Control Protocol (TCP) works with IP to ensure the transfer of data is dependable and reliable. This helps to make sure that no packets are lost, packets are reassembled in proper sequence, and there’s no delay negatively affecting the data quality.

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