The Internet began as a means for government researchers to share data. Initially, computers used by the United States Military were expensive and only available to government officials. In the late ’60s, computers became portable and affordable for the general public. Early computers could only be used in stores or offices and required special software and hardware to run. They were large and stationary and required either a person to travel to a computer center to check on a computer, or have hard copy computer tapes sent via the traditional postal service.
Now, with more sophisticated technology, computers are becoming smaller and more mobile. Mobile broadband Internet connections are often referred to as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) because they use the voice communications technology already in place between regular phone lines and cell phones. Packet Internet connections are those that are made within a packet, similar to how an e-mail is sent over a computer network. This type of Internet connection has the advantage of being faster than other kinds of data transmission, making it a good choice for new applications.
Packet Internet connections can be either data-based or application-based. Data-based internet protocols send information in packets. For example, during file sharing, the sender requests information from a recipient by sending a request packet. On the other hand, application protocols are used to perform actions on the internet based on keywords, instead of packets of information.
Applications, like web browsers, can communicate with each other using application protocols. An internet explorer window can open in another computer with an IP address, just as an e-mail can send an html message to another IP address. When two computers are connected to the same network, the computer at the other end can send an application message to the one at the beginning of the network. This application message will contain the link to another computer that is linked to the initiating computer.
There are a lot of different ways by which you can transfer information from one computer to another over the internet. For communication purposes, two different IP networks can be connected to each other using a routing table. These networks, named Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN), are part of the so-called packet switching technology. In this kind of technology, several computers are connected to each other in a path. The packets of data are transmitted from one computer to another by the router or access point.
The internet also uses routing tables to distribute packets of information among different computers on the same network. If you want to visit a website of another company, you can do it by typing its address into the web browser. That site will be told to send the request to another computer on the LAN. The request will be forwarded to that other computer, and it will forward the request to other computers on the internet, until it reaches the one who asked for the information.
As we have seen, the internet works through different computer networks. There are many different ones. Some of them are: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, AOL, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Yahoo, and others. If you are on a social networking site, you may wonder how the request gets to your computer, if you do not use the internet often. For that matter, any website you visit sends packets of information from the server to your computer every time you visit that site.
Your internet access provider will be the person who connects all the computers on the internet backbone to the World Wide Web. There are three major internet service providers in the US, which serve millions of subscribers. You can get internet service from them for cheap internet access, depending on the package you opt for.