Internet Basics

Sometime in the mid 1960′s, during the Cold War, it became apparent that there was a need for a bombproof communications system. A concept was devised to link computers together throughout the country. With such a system in place large sections of the country could be nuked and messages could still get through.

In the beginning, only government “think tanks” and a few universities were linked. Basically the Internet was an emergency military communications system operated by the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). The whole operation was referred to as ARPANET.

Animated illustration of how the Internet works

In time, ARPANET computers were installed at every university in the United States that had defense related funding. Gradually, the Internet had gone from a military pipeline to a communications tool for scientists. As more scholars came online, the administration of the system transferred from ARPA to the National Science Foundation.

Years later, businesses began using the Internet, setting up their own dedicated servers and cabinets, and the administrative responsibilities were once again transferred.

At this time no one party “operates” the Internet, there are several entities that “oversee” the system and the protocols that are involved.

The speed of the Internet has changed the way people receive information. It combines the immediacy of broadcast with the in-depth coverage of newspapers…making it a perfect source for news and weather information.

According to a December 2009 Pew survey, 74% of American adults (ages 18 and older) use the internet .  60% of American adults use broadband connections at home. And 55% of American adults connect to the internet wirelessly, either through a WiFi or WiMax connection via their laptops or through their handheld device like a smart phone.

There are several ways to access the Internet. Learn about the options that are available to you.