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The Internet and the World Wide Web

by'Gbenga Sesan
A paper presented at the Students’ Christian Movement, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. October 15, 2000.


INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERNET

The Internet is a large network of interlinked computer networks all over the world and any computer on the Internet can be located anywhere in the world. This allows communication between people, people groups, corporate bodies and systems over the Internet no matter the distance between them.

It all began with packet switching projects in the late ‘60s, most notably the Advanced Research Project Agency’s ARPANET. During the ‘70s, while Bob Taylor was leading the project, the network grew to support many organisations in the US Department of Defence, other government agencies, universities and research organisations.

With the need for a protocol, the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) was developed as a packet protocol that would allow connections across a variety of physical mediums including satellite connections, wireless packet radio, telephone links, etc.

In 1985, the American National Science Foundation (NSF) funded several national supercomputer centres and it desired to make them available to the research community in universities across the United States. Apart from research, the network was also found useful for other purposes such as email, newsgroups, and file transfer.

The traffic of the network grew so fast that a need arose for an upgrade to 1.544Mbps T1 leased lines. Merit Network, IBM, MCI and the State of Michigan, the contractors for the upgrade, were to also operate the NSFNET backbone. The project was completed after about eight (8) months on July 1, 1988 linking thirteen (13) sites and carried 152 million data packets in its first month alone.

The original thirteen sites include: Merit of the University of Michigan Computing Centre in Ann Arbor Michigan.

  • National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado
  • Cornell Theory Centre for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign.
  • The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Centre in Pittsburgh.
  • San Diego Supercomputer Centre at the University of California, San Diego.
  • Jon von Neumann Centre at Princeton University.
  • BARRNet in Palo Alto, California.
  • MIDNet in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • Westnet, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • North WestNet in Seattle, Washington.
  • SESQUINET in Rice University, Houston, Texas.
  • SURANET in Georgia Tech, Atlanta Georgia.

    In order to reduce the rate of Internet entropy, the levels of access available can be grouped into:

    1. Interconnect Level – Network Access Points (NAPs)
    2. National Backbone Level
    3. Regional Networks
    4. Internet Service Providers
    5. Consumer and Business Market

    It would be noted that the fourth and fifth levels are the major operational levels available to the Nigerian Internet society. A further sixth level also exists in Nigeria, which arises from the two operating levels within the consumer and business market; the cyber cafés being the fifth level and the consumers on the usual base of the ladder.

    INTERNET SERVICES

    The Internet has several types of services, including e-mail, newsgroups, telnet, File Transfer Protocol and the World Wide Web.

    FeatureSoftware needed (with example)Uses of the feature
    E-mailE-mail software(Outlook Express,Microsoft Exchange)Send messages and documents.
    File Transfer Protocol (FTP)FTP Software (Cute FTP)Send files from one system to another, all across the globe.
    Newsgroups News reader (Outlook Express,Internet News)Read messages on various topics.
    World Wide WebWeb browsing software (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mosaic)Read documents, listen to music, watch videos, make purchases, participate in surveys, advertise products, do research, share interests, and download files.

    Table 1: Various services available on the Internet

    INTRODUCTION TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB

    The World Wide Web is the graphical, multimedia portion of the Internet. It is popularly referred to as WWW and it is comprised of millions of Web pages. To explore the Web, a Web browsing software (browser) is needed and there are quite a lot available worldwide today, some of which are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Mosaic Spyglass.

    The software is used to view different locations on the Web, which are known as Web pages. A group of Web pages is a Web site and the first page of a Web site is often called the home page. Just as each household in the world has a unique address, each Web page in the world has a unique Internet address, sometimes called a URL. For example, the Internet address of Neural Technologies Limited and my personal website are http://www.taiplc.com/neural and http://nigerianwebmaster.tripod.com respectively.


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