Glossary definition of Internet

Internet, commonly called 'The Net', is a global network which allows hundreds of millions of users to connect their computer (or other type of Internet device) with any other computer they have permission to access, and to exchange data with them. The user is able to send and receive information, and to communicate with a vast range of businesses, government agencies, universities, organisations, and individuals across the world.

The Internet evolved from ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), developed in 1969 by the US government's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which enabled the exchange of research data between university computers. The Internet now communicates much more openly via the public telephone networks, and this is made possible due to the commonly agreed set of standards or protocols called TCP / IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol).

Millions of people are currently making extensive use of the Internet's remarkable facility for handling electronic mail (e-mail), which has made it easy to send instant messages to anywhere in the world. Live personal conversations are also possible between computers, using Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and those who have a Web Cam (web camera) are able to participate in the two-way transfer of live video between computers.

The most popular feature of the Internet is the World Wide Web (WWW), often simply called 'The Web', which gives users access to millions of pages of information, that can be viewed using a software application called a Web browser (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator). Apart from text and still images, sound, video and multimedia files can also be accessed via the Internet, although the large file sizes needed for multimedia usually mean that such users require the higher bandwidths provided by the Broadband connections available from service providers.

One user-friendly navigation feature, within and between websites, is the powerful tool of hypertext. Hypertext is the system that allows instant cross-referencing from one web page location to another, by simply 'clicking' on words or phrases that are underlined or highlighted in a different colour. The same system may also use buttons, icons, or even parts of images to identify a hypertext connection. Selecting such hypertext links can quickly take the user to related information on the same website, or even to a website on the other side of the world.

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