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 Understanding the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web

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Age : 44
Registration date : 2008-03-08

PostSubject: Understanding the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web   Wed 26 Mar - 21:15

The modern Internet came into existence in 1983 when all of the hosts on the US Department of Defense ARPANET changed over to using the TCP/IP protocol suite. The "network of networks" using TCP/IP suite eventually was made available for commercial use starting in 1988. The TCP/IP protocol suite allowed data packets to be sent to and received from any computer on the Internet. Any computer that supports the TCP/IP (pretty much all of the Windows PCs, for example) that can reach the backbone and root servers (pretty much any PC that has an internet service provider or ISP) is part of the internet.

To do anything interesting required defining further protocols that ran on top of TCP or IP.
Much of the early use was for e-mail, and the e-mail protocols such as POP-3 and SMTP are still used over TCP today, and many other protocols - FTP, Telnet, NFS, and so on have been defined over the years and are still in use today.

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee came up with a couple of new protocols to allow sub-atomic particle physicists to give each other access to their research papers. He based his approach on hypertext, the idea of providing a viewer that displays text while supporting linking - click on a link in the text and it can take you to some other text, perhaps a detailed definition and so on. His approach has evolved into 2 main protocols:
Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) - a method for a client computer to request hypertext from a server, it specifies how the client requests content and how the server replies.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) - describes how to specify the text and it's appearance, and how to include graphic elements and links to other content. The large scale implementation of these hypertext based protocols over the public internet is referred to as the "World Wide Web" or WWW.

Client computers run a "web browser" such as IE or FireFox that deals with HTTP in order to fetch HTML content and interprets the HTML, rendering the content on your screen. On the other end of the TCP connection are 1 or more web servers supplying the web content.

The difference between the internet and the web is somewhat like the difference between the phone system and a conversation. The phone system (or the internet) provides the medium, but a specific use of that medium to connect 2 speakers (or a web browser and a web server) allows for a more meaningful, human interaction - a conversation (or a web browsing session).

The internet is used for many things above and beyond the web protocols, but the web is the single most influential use of the internet. The web protocols require the internet TCP/IP protocols, and while they can be used on a local internet separate from THE internet, the really interesting use is when the web is run over the whole internet - that's when it truly becomes the WORLDWIDE web.
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