Do you play computer games over the Internet?
Do you surf the Web? Do you send e-mail
messages to your friends? You can get all kinds
of information on the Internet. People use the
Internet to work at home. Scientists use the
Internet to help them do research. The Internet
has made big changes in the way many people
live and work.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET?
The Internet is a system that connects computer
networks. The Internet links millions of
computers all over the world. It allows your
computer to get information stored on other
computers far away. Some networks have only a
few computers. Some networks have thousands
of computers. Computers connect to the Internet
through telephone and cable systems.
Many governments, big companies, and other
organizations have intranets. The computers on an
intranet are hooked up to the Internet. But only
people who work for the organization that owns
the intranet can use it. Other people on the
Internet cannot see what is on the intranet
WHERE DID THE INTERNET COME FROM?
The Internet grew out of a computer network
called ARPANET. The United States military
created ARPANET in the 1960s. From the 1970s
until the late 1980s, the U.S. government only let
a few scientists and people in the military use it.
In the 1980s, the government let networks at
universities join with ARPANET to create the
Internet. The Internet grew quickly. Schools,
libraries, local and state governments,
companies, and families were on the Internet by
At first, it was hard to get information from the
Internet. You could only see words and numbers
on your computer screen. Then a British
computer scientist named Timothy Berners-Lee
created the World Wide Web in the 1980s.
THE WEB AND THE INTERNET ARE DIFFERENT
The difference between the Internet and the
Web is sort of like the difference between
highways and a delivery service. Delivery service
trucks use highways to move packages from one
place to another. The Web is like the delivery
service. The Internet is like the highways.
Information traffic from the Web travels over the
The Web is made of places called sites. People
use special computer programs to make the
sites. The sites are stored on computers called
Web servers. Each site is made up of documents
called Web pages. These Web pages can have
text, pictures, sounds, and videos.
You need computer software called a Web
browser to find and see Web pages. Each Web
page has a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The
URL is like an address that the browser looks for.
An example of a URL is:
Many computer experts think that the Internet
became so popular because of the Web. The
Web is easier to use than the Internet by itself.
By the end of 2000, more than 80 percent of all
traffic on the Internet highway came from the
THE INTERNET IS GROWING
Millions of people use the Internet every day. In
1981, only 213 computers were connected to the
Internet. By 2002, more than 158 million
computers were connected to the Internet.
No one knows for sure exactly how many people
use the Internet. Computer experts thought that
there were 61 million Internet users worldwide at
the end of 1996. There may have been from 700
million to 900 million users by the end of 2003.
HOW TO GET ON THE INTERNET
You get on the Internet by joining a computer
network. The network that you join is called an
Internet service provider (ISP). America Online
(AOL), Earthlink, and Microsoft’s MSN are
popular ISPs. You pay a fee to the ISP just as you
pay a phone company to use their telephone
The company that owns your ISP sends you
software to install on your computer. The
software lets you use the ISP’s network to get
on the Internet. The ISP also gives you an e-mail
There are different ways to connect your
computer to the ISP. You can hook up your
computer with a modem and your home
telephone line. This is called dial-up access. You
can hook up to the ISP with a digital subscriber
line (DSL) or a cable modem. A DSL uses the
same wires as your telephone. A cable modem
uses the same wiring that cable television uses.
DSLs and cable modems bring Web pages to
your computer screen much faster than a dial-up
DSLs and cable modems are called broadband
connections. Many computer experts think more
people must get broadband connections in order
for the Internet to continue growing.