The Internet and the World Wide Web
The Internet has been around for a long time (since the 1960's), the World Wide Web is a much newer operation (for want of a better word) which has come about as a response to the demand for a friendly environment in which anyone can find information freely and easily.

Until the web explosion in the early 90's, the Internet was dominated by academic and scientific users. Outside these areas most people subscribed to private networks such as CompuServe, AOL and Prodigy. (not connected to the internet but providing content and e-mail services)

The popularity of the Web had a profound effect on these private network providers, who for some time struggled to make themselves compatible with the Internet and provide Internet connectivity for their customers. CompuServe now has given up the struggle.

A History of the Internet

In the late 1950's a requirement for a decentralised computer networking system was recognised by the government in order to maintain lines of communication in the event of an attack on a network node. A solution was formulated by a US government team think tank.

A proposal was put forward in a paper issued in 1962 using a technique called packet switching. In 1969 the first packet switching network was constructed. It linked 4 research facilities UCLA - Stanford - UCSB - and the University of Utah. It was known as ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency) and funded by the Pentagon.
In 1971 the network had grown to include 15 nodes, by 1972 it included 40. In 1972 the project was dubbed the InterNetworking Working Group. A shortened version of which is the name with which we are all familiar today.

A Glossary of Internet terms follows, to skip them and continue the story, click here.

Glossary Of Terms


(Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) broadband connections are now available at various prices. Download speed is variable depending on what is useful to you, and upload speed is always at 256 Kb/s


Broadband is a very fast service providing Internet Access, usually through ADSL.

Electronic Mail

The first major application for the InterNetworking Working Group developed was Electronic Mail in 1972. This enables people to send mail to multiple users and mailing lists, enabling open discussions over the net. Electronic mail is now supported by most browsers so a separate e-mail program is no longer needed.


Along with e-mail, Telnet was one of the first applications to be built into the ARPAnet. This protocol allows users to log on to a remote computer via a terminal.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

The 3rd main function to be built into the net and still widely used. A method used to send and retrieve files over the Internet to a known destination. You will use this when you upload a web site.


A direct precursor to the World Wide Web, a menu driven telnet application which enables users to find files etc. on the Internet. Through telnet, one gopher site can access others, enabling file searches to be made right across the Internet

Usenet News

This is a logical extension of the mailing list. First developed in 1979 by the UNIX User Network. Users can search for a topic they are interested in, and subscribe or contribute to news groups.

1986 - NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol)

Now used by more than 2.5 million people a month and available to over 15 million users worldwide. Newsreaders are also now built in to most web browsers.

1982 TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.)

This is where the word Internet entered the language. TCP/IP enables UNIX systems to talk to PCs, Macintoshes etc. This breakthrough has formed the Internet as we know it, removing the barriers between different types of computers and operating systems.

The Story Continues

The Internet

With the advent of TCP/IP in 1982 the word Internet became a common term for referring to the world-wide network of research, military and university computers. In 1983 ARPAnet was divided into ARPAnet and MILnet. MILnet integrated into the Defence Data Network. ARPAnet's function as the network backbone was taken over in 1987 by the National Science Foundation network and finally retired in 1990.

In 1990 InterNIC was founded as an organisation to handle registration services etc. and is the nearest thing the Internet has to an administrative centre. However it has no control over the policies of the multitude of organisations that make up the net.

The Web Explosion

1990 European High-Energy Particle Physics Lab (CERN) is the largest Internet site in Europe. As the driving force behind the European expansion of the web, and to promote this, Tim Berners-Lee of CERN created the World Wide Web in 1992.

The Principles of the web was as follows:-

Extension of Gopher using hypertext links.
The development of three new technologies:

  • HTML as a common language for page creation 
  • HTTP used by a web server to transmit pages 
  • Web Browser to receive, translate and display pages 

Now we all want to have Broadband in our businesses or homes.

Q. How did this succeed?

A. The FREE browser!!

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) with Marc Andreeson (later the founder of Netscape Communications Corp) designed and produced a browser called Mosaic at the University of Illinois.

Made available free of charge on the Internet it spread like wildfire through the Internet community. Within a year an estimated 2 million users were browsing the Web.

By mid 1993, there were 130 Web sites, six months later 600!!

There are now probably over 6,000,000 web sites, this figure is still growing fast!.

In 1993, Marc Andreeson and Jim Clark of Silicon Graphics formed Netscape and quickly produced Netscape Navigator for Windows, Macintosh and UNIX platforms. This program became the new standard Internet browsing software.

In 1995 Microsoft belatedly changed it's mind about the future of the Internet, famously that it was not a viable commercial proposition, and produced Internet Explorer.

What's the Web for?

To conduct business, to exchange information, to express your creativity, to collaborate with others, and to just plain have fun!

The Future??