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©1999-2006
Ian Loxton
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Ian Loxton - author of this web site
My Quick Reference
to the Internet


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What is the Internet?
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web tells us ;

"The Internet ('Net) is a network of networks. Basically it is made from computers and cables. What Vint Cerf and Bob Khan did was to figure out how this could be used to send around little "packets" of information."
"A packet is a bit like a postcard with a simple address on it. If you put the right address on a packet, and gave it to any computer which is connected as part of the Net, each computer would figure out which cable to send it down next so that it would get to its destination. That's what the Internet does. It delivers packets - anywhere in the world, normally well under a second."


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What is the Net used for?
Internet connects computers all across the world Lots of different sort of programs use the Internet: electronic mail, for example, was around long before the global hypertext system Tim Berners-Lee invented and called the World Wide Web ('Web). Now, videoconferencing and streamed audio channels are among other things which, like the Web, encode information in different ways and use different languages between computers ( protocols ) to do provide a service.

 


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Is the Internet still developing?
Timeline showing how the Internet has grown
The Internet was originally only a connection between two universities, then 3, then 4, then more came onto the connection. Now the Internet is growing at a ratefaster than the expansion of the connection equipment can cope. Countries are connected by satellites or through telephone cables set into the seabed across the oceans. Australia is one of the leading countries (per head of population) to use the Internet.

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What is the World Wide Web? Tim Berners-Lee has the answers for this one;
Q: Why did you call it WWW?
Looking for a name for a global hypertext system, an essential element I wanted to stress was its decentralized form allowing anything to link to anything. This form is mathematically a graph, or web. It was designed to be global of course.

Q: What is the difference between the Net and the Web?
The Web is an abstract (imaginary) space of information.
-- you find documents, sounds, videos,.... information
-- the connections are hypertext links.
On the Net,
-- you find computers
-- the connections are cables between computers;
The Web exists because of programs which communicate between computers on the Net. The Web could not be without the Net. The Web made the Net useful because people are really interested in information (not to mention knowledge and wisdom!) and don't really want to have know about computers and cables.

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What are some of the concepts behind the Web?
The world-wide web is conceived as a seamless world in which ALL information, from any source, can be accessed in a consistent and simple way.
Universal Readership
Before W3, typically to find some information one had to have one of a number of different terminals connected to a number of different computers, and one had to learn a number of different programs to access that data.
The W3 principle of universal readership is that once information is available, it should be accessible from any type of computer, in any country, and an (authorized) person should only have to use one simple program to access it. This is now the case. In practice the web hangs on a number of essential concepts. Though not the most important, the most famous is that of hypertext .

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What is HTML (hypertext)?
Hypertext is text with links.
Hypertext is not a new idea: in fact, when you read a book there are links between references, footnotes, and between the table of contents or index and the text. If you include bibliographies which refer to other books and papers, text is in fact already full of references.
With hypertext, the computer makes following such references as easy as turning the page. This means that the reader can escape from the sequential organization of the pages to follow or pursue a thread of his or her own. This makes hypertext an incredibly powerful tool for learning. Hypertext authors design their material to make it open to active exploration, and in doing so communicate their information and ideas more effectively.
Although the Web uses many different formats, this is one basic format which every Web client understands. It is a simple SGML document type allowing structured text with links. The fact that HTML is valid SGML opens the door to interchange with other systems, but SGML was not chosen for any particular technical merit. HTML describes the logical structure of the document instead of its formatting. This allows it to be displayed optimally on different platforms using different fonts and conventions.
HTML means Hyper-Text Markup Language

You have already seen references to the Hypertext Protocol. Look at the entry for this site at the top of this browser. See the Http:// before the site name (the URL ) ? Well that tells the browser that you want to connect with the site using the Hypertext Protocol or HTTP.


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What is a Protocol for the Web (W3)? (URLs, HTTP)
The W3 project has defined a number of common practices which allow all the clients and servers to communicate.
URLs
When you are reading a document, behind every link there is the network-wide address of the document to which it refers. The design of these addresses (URLs) is as fundamental to W3 as hypertext itself. The addreses allow any object anywhere on the internet to be described, even though these objects are accesed using a variety of different protocols. This flexibility allows the web to envelop all the existing data in FTP archives, news arcticles, and WAIS and Gopher servers.
HTTP
The web uses a number of protocols, then, but it also has its own Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This protocol includes a number of facilities which we needed: it is fast, stateless and extensable. It also allows the web to surmount the problems of different data types using negotiation of the data represeentation as already described .
The other protocols which W3 clients can speak include FTP, WAIS, Gopher, and NNTP, the network news protocol.


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How did the Internet start?
The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his "Galactic Network" concept. He envisioned a globally interconnected set of through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. In spirit, the concept was very much like the Internet of today.
In 1973, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiated a research program to investigate techniques and technologies for interlinking packet networks of various kinds. The objective was to develop communication protocols which would allow networked computers to communicate transparently across multiple, linked packet networks. This was called the Internetting project and the system of networks which emerged from the research was known as the "Internet." The system of protocols which was developed over the course of this research effort became known as the TCP/IP Protocol Suite, after the two initial protocols developed: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP).
You can also read the History of the Internet


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How did the Web start?
Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in late 1990 while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. He wrote the first WWW client (a browser-editor running under NeXTStep) and the first WWW server along with most of the communications software, defining URL s, HTTP and HTML .

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How can we help those with a disability access the Web?
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, has this to say about access to the Internet;
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
Logo for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3) The World Wide Web Consortium (W3) has expended a lot of energy to find standards that will allow access to the internet for as many people as possible.
Web accessibility Initiative for Web Accessibility guidelines
Web Accessibility Initiative ( WAI) WAI Page Author Guidelines


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Updated: 6 Jan 2007 - minor changes only