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Simple description of the Internet

Last Edit: 10/01/17

The Internet is a collection of computer networks that are connected through the use of the Internet protocol suite. The Internet protocol suite is more commonly known as TCP/IP, which is comprised of,

  1. TCP - Transmission Control Protocol
  2. IP - Internet Protocol

TCP/IP evolved from the ARPANET computer network; a pioneering computer network which was established in 1969 by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPANET). ARPANET was worked upon by two individuals: Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn; these two gentlemen went on to develop TCP/IP, and have thus been coined the 'founders fathers of the Internet'. TCP/IP was developed throughout the 1970's; it was first adopted as a functional and standard network protocol in 1982 by the Department of Defense in the United States. TCP/IP is currently maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

While the hierarchy of the Internet may seem somewhat archaic, computer networks are categorised into tiers: backbone servers at the top of the hierarchy and the humble home computer languishing at the bottom. The number of tiers is around about four;

  1. Tier 1: Telecommunications companies like AT&T
  2. Tier 2: Large ISPs, but who need to purchase IP transit from tier 1 networks.
  3. Tier 3: Networks; like at universities, who purchase IP transit from tier 2 ISPs.
  4. Tier 4: Home users.

The Internet is sometimes confused with the applications which work upon it: most commonly the World Wide Web or E-mail; neither of which should be confused as the Internet itself. The age of the Internet predates the World Wide Web by decades - although email is of a similar age. As has already been stated, the roots of the research that built the Internet date back to the 1960s; ARPANET, and Mark I at NPL, are credited as the computer networks which have evolved into the Internet.