The Internet (or internet) is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is anetwork of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support email.
Most traditional communications media including telephone, music, film, and television are being reshaped or redefined by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Newspaper, book and other print publishing are adapting to Web site technology, or are reshaped into blogging and web feeds. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of human interactions throughinstant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping has boomed both for major retail outlets and small artisans and traders. Business-to-business and financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries.
The origins of the Internet reach back to research of the 1960s, commissioned by the United States government to build robust, fault-tolerant, and distributed computer networks. The funding of a new U.S. backbone by the National Science Foundation in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial backbones, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. Thecommercialization of what was by the 1990s an international network resulted in its popularization and incorporation into virtually every aspect of modern human life. As of June 2012, more than 2.4 billion people—nearly a third of the world's human population—have used the services of the Internet.
The Internet has no centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own standards. Only the overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol addressspace and the Domain Name System, are directed by a maintainer organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols (IPv4 and IPv6) is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise.
See also: Internet capitalization conventions
Internet is a short form of the technical term internetwork, the result of interconnecting computer networks with special gateways or routers. Historically the word has been used, uncapitalized, as a verb and adjective since 1883 to refer to interconnected motions. It was also used from 1974 before the Internet, uncapitalized, as a verb meaning to connect together, especially for networks. The Internet is also often referred to as the Net.
The Internet, referring to the specific entire global system of IP networks, is a proper noun and written with an initial capital letter. In the media and common use it is often not capitalized: "the internet". Some guides specify that the word should be capitalized as a noun but not capitalized as an adjective.
The terms Internet and World Wide Web are often used interchangeably in everyday speech; it is common to speak of going on the Internet when invoking a browser to view Web pages. However, the Internet is a particular global computer network connecting millions of computing devices; the World Wide Web is just one of many services running on the Internet. The Web is a collection of interconnected documents (Web pages) and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs. In addition to the Web, a multitude of other services are implemented over the Internet, including e-mail, file transfer, remote computer control, newsgroups, and online games. Web (and other) services can be implemented on any intranet, accessible to network users.
Professor Leonard Kleinrockwith the first ARPANET Interface Message Processors at UCLA
Main articles: History of the Internet and History of the World Wide Web
Research into packet switching started in the early 1960s and packet switched networks such as Mark I at NPL in the UK, ARPANET, CYCLADES, Merit Network, Tymnet, and Telenet, were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s using a variety of protocols. The ARPANET in particular led to the development of protocols for internetworking, where multiple separate networks could be joined together into a network of networks thanks to the work of British scientist Donald Davieswhose ground-breaking work on Packet Switching was essential to the system.
The first two nodes of what would become the ARPANET were interconnected between Leonard Kleinrock's Network Measurement Center at the UCLA's School of Engineering and Applied Scienceand Douglas Engelbart's NLS system at SRI International (SRI) in Menlo Park, California, on 29 October 1969. The third site on the ARPANET was the Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the fourth was the University of Utah Graphics Department. In an early sign of future growth, there were already fifteen sites connected to the young ARPANET by the end of 1971. These early years were documented in the 1972 film Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing.
Early international collaborations on ARPANET were sparse. For various political reasons, European developers were concerned with developing the X.25 networks. Notable exceptions were the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) in June 1973, followed in 1973 by Sweden with satellite links to the Tanum Earth Station and Peter T. Kirstein's research group in the UK, initially at the Institute of Computer Science, University of London and later at University College London.
T3 NSFNET Backbone, c. 1992
In December 1974, RFC 675 – Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program, by Vinton Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine, used the term internet, as a shorthand forinternetworking; later RFCs repeat this use, so the word started out as an adjective rather than the noun it is today. Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when theNational Science Foundation (NSF) developed the Computer Science Network (CSNET). In 1982, the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) was standardized and the concept of a world-wide network of fully interconnected TCP/IP networks called the Internet was introduced.
TCP/IP network access expanded again in 1986 when the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) provided access to supercomputer sites in the United States from research and education organizations, first at 56 kbit/s and later at 1.5 Mbit/s and 45 Mbit/s. Commercial internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. The Internet was commercialized in 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. The Internet started a rapid expansion to Europe and Australia in the mid to late 1980s and to Asia in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
This NeXT Computer was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first Web server.
Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a tremendous impact on culture and commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by email, instant messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) "phone calls", two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1-Gbit/s, 10-Gbit/s, or more. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment andsocial networking.
During the late 1990s, it was estimated that traffic on the public Internet grew by 100 percent per year, while the mean annual growth in the number of Internet users was thought to be between 20% and 50%. This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary open nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network. As of 31 March 2011, the estimated total number of Internet users was 2.095 billion (30.2% of world population). It is estimated that in 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way telecommunication, by 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.
Main article: Internet protocol suite
As the user data is processed down through the protocol stack, each layer adds an encapsulation at the sending host. Data is transmitted "over the wire" at the link level, left to right. The encapsulation stack procedure is reversed by the receiving host. Intermediate relays remove and add a new link encapsulation for retransmission, and inspect the IP layer for routing purposes.
The communications infrastructure of the Internet consists of its hardware components and a system of software layers that control various aspects of the architecture. While the hardware can often be used to support other software systems, it is the design and the rigorous standardization process of the software architecture that characterizes the Internet and provides the foundation for its scalability and success. The responsibility for the architectural design of the Internet software systems has been delegated to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF conducts standard-setting work groups, open to any individual, about the various aspects of Internet architecture. Resulting discussions and final standards are published in a series of publications, each called a Request for Comments (RFC), freely available on the IETF web site. The principal methods of networking that enable the Internet are contained in specially designated RFCs that constitute theInternet Standards. Other less rigorous documents are simply informative, experimental, or historical, or document the best current practices (BCP) when implementing Internet technologies.
The Internet standards describe a framework known as the Internet protocol suite. This is a model architecture that divides methods into a layered system of protocols (RFC 1122, RFC 1123). The layers correspond to the environment or scope in which their services operate. At the top is the application layer, the space for the application-specific networking methods used in software applications, e.g., a web browser program. Below this top layer, the transport layer connects applications on different hostsvia the network (e.g., client–server model) with appropriate data exchange methods. Underlying these layers are the core networking technologies, consisting of two layers. The internet layer enables computers to identify and locate each other via Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and allows them to connect to one another via intermediate (transit) networks. Last, at the bottom of the architecture, is a software layer, the link layer, that provides connectivity between hosts on the same local network link, such as a local area network (LAN) or a dial-up connection. The model, also known as TCP/IP, is designed to be independent of the underlying hardware, which the model therefore does not concern itself with in any detail. Other models have been developed, such as the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, but they are not compatible in the details of description or implementation; many similarities exist and the TCP/IP protocols are usually included in the discussion of OSI networking.
The most prominent component of the Internet model is the Internet Protocol (IP), which provides addressing systems (IP addresses) for computers on the Internet. IP enables internetworking and in essence establishes the Internet itself. IP Version 4 (IPv4) is the initial version used on the first generation of today's Internet and is still in dominant use. It was designed to address up to ~4.3 billion (109) Internet hosts. However, the explosive growth of the Internet has led to IPv4 address exhaustion, which entered its final stage in 2011, when the global address allocation pool was exhausted. A new protocol version, IPv6, was developed in the mid-1990s, which provides vastly larger addressing capabilities and more efficient routing of Internet traffic. IPv6 is currently in growing deployment around the world, since Internet address registries (RIRs) began to urge all resource managers to plan rapid adoption and conversion.
IPv6 is not interoperable with IPv4. In essence, it establishes a parallel version of the Internet not directly accessible with IPv4 software. This means software upgrades or translator facilities are necessary for networking devices that need to communicate on both networks. Most modern computer operating systems already support both versions of the Internet Protocol. Network infrastructures, however, are still lagging in this development. Aside from the complex array of physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts (e.g., peering agreements), and by technical specifications or protocols that describe how to exchange data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is defined by its interconnections and routing policies.
Internet packet routing is accomplished among various tiers of Internet Service Providers.
Internet Service Providers connect customers (thought of at the "bottom" of the routing hierarchy) to customers of other ISPs. At the "top" of the routing hierarchy are ten or so Tier 1 networks, large telecommunication companies which exchange traffic directly "across" to all other Tier 1 networks via unpaid peering agreements. Tier 2 networks buy Internet transit from other ISP to reach at least some parties on the global Internet, though they may also engage in unpaid peering (especially for local partners of a similar size). ISPs can use a single "upstream" provider for connectivity, or usemultihoming to provide protection from problems with individual links. Internet exchange points create physical connections between multiple ISPs, often hosted in buildings owned by independent third parties.
Computers and routers use routing tables to direct IP packets among locally connected machines. Tables can be constructed manually or automatically via DHCP for an individual computer or a routing protocol for routers themselves. In single-homed situations, a default route usually points "up" toward an ISP providing transit. Higher-level ISPs use the Border Gateway Protocol to sort out paths to any given range of IP addresses across the complex connections of the global Internet.
Academic institutions, large companies, governments, and other organizations can perform the same role as ISPs, engaging in peering and purchasing transit on behalf of their internal networks of individual computers. Research networks tend to interconnect into large subnetworks such as GEANT, GLORIAD, Internet2, and the UK's national research and education network, JANET. These in turn are built around smaller networks.
Not all computer networks are connected to the Internet. For example, some classified United States websites are only accessible from separate secure networks.
The Internet structure and its usage characteristics have been studied extensively. It has been determined that both the Internet IP routing structure and hypertext links of the World Wide Web are examples of scale-free networks.
Many computer scientists describe the Internet as a "prime example of a large-scale, highly engineered, yet highly complex system". The Internet is heterogeneous; for instance, data transfer rates and physical characteristics of connections vary widely. The Internet exhibits "emergent phenomena" that depend on its large-scale organization. For example, data transfer rates exhibit temporalself-similarity. The principles of the routing and addressing methods for traffic in the Internet reach back to their origins in the 1960s when the eventual scale and popularity of the network could not be anticipated. Thus, the possibility of developing alternative structures is investigated. The Internet structure was found to be highly robust