.::How the Web Works
The Internet is a complex network of computers linked together all over the world via an assortment of transmission mediums.
The Internet was first conceived in 1969 in the form of ARPANet, a US Government funded venture to share academic information from Supercomputer Sites to Educational and Research Institutes. By 1990, the internet had steadily grown throughout America and, although originally designed to exchange electronic documents, the commercial value of the internet was forseen.
.::The 90's Explosion
In the mid 1990's, a contingent of major Telecommunications companies started to outlay POPs (Points of Presence) across America and not long after the Internet became widely available to people world wide. This began one of the biggest explosions of growth in the telecommunications industry ever. Today over 65% of the worlds population use the internet regularly whilst 30% use it on a day to day basis for a multitude of reasons such as work, research, shopping and entertainment.
Nowadays the Internet contains close to 100 million computers all connected together in some way or form to share information from one computer to another. Each computer is assigned a unique sequence of numbers known as an IP Address (Internet Protocol Address). Each IP Address has a sequence of 4 sets of numbers separated by a period. for example. 198.232.328.235 . These IP addresses can be dynamically assigned or static. Static IP's are mostly used for servers that are connected permanently to the Internet whilst dynamic IP's are assigned to dialup connections for end users.
.::What are Servers ?
A Server is usually a high spec computer that has been optimized to serve information through a high bandwidth link to users all around the world. Servers contain websites which consists of databases, files, applications, images, which can all be requested via a web browser on the users end. A user requests information from a Server by entering the IP address or domain name of the Server. The users computer will send its own IP Address to tell the Server where to send the information to. The Server will then create a connection to the users computer and transmit the requested information through that connection.
TCP/IP is the base standard protocol used on the Internet for one computer to exchange, request or send information with another. The basic exchange of information from one computer to another is usually called downloading or uploading. Downloading a typical page from a website will take multiple requests to a server to download all of the components of the web page so the browser can render and display the page. This page you are reading now consists of 6 components. 2 images, 3 HTML pages and a Style Sheet. For those who don't know what HTML pages or Style Sheets are it is not really important at the moment but we will cover these later.
.::What else can I do ?
Aside from browsing webpages you can use applications such as Instant Messaging Programs that instantly 'zap' messages from one person to another. P2P (Peer to Peer) File Sharing is a relatively new utilization of the Internet which allows you to search and exchange files with another person. Although the oldest and one of the most commonly used applications of the Internet is Email or electronic mail which has been a mainstay since the Internets conception over 3 decades ago. Email allows a user to send electronic documents and files instantaneously throughout the world. Email is sent via a protocol called SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) which can be utilised via a client side email program. Companies such as Server101 offer web based email where you can compose and read your email from within your web browser. This can be especially convenient for clients that travel regularly.