The internet

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2009, 12:00am

At the beginning

We take it granted these days, but just 20 years ago, very few people even knew about the internet. A project called Arpanet was started by the United States Defence Department in 1969. The goal of Arpanet was to connect computers together so that they could share information.

For computers to talk to each other and share information, they need to have a shared language. This is called a protocol. It was a difficult job for scientists, but the solutions they came up with turned out to be inexpensive.

This made it possible eventually to offer it to ordinary people - not just government agencies and universities.

A network without a centre

One of the fascinating things about the internet is that nobody controls it. It is a huge network of computers, connecting people in 65 countries. It is thought that a quarter of the people in the world now use it. That number grows every day.

In 1991, there was a development that made the internet a household name. The development of the World Wide Web made it possible to look at webpages using a browser.

In 1993, another turning point came. Researchers released the first browser that used graphics, or pictures. It was called Mosaic.

The Web and the Net

Many people think the Web and the internet are the same thing, but they are not. The Web came much later. The internet - which is the hardware of computers and servers, and the software that allows them to communicate - had to be in place before there could be a Web.

Think of the Web as a huge collection of documents or webpages that are linked together. The links are called hyperlinks.

Battle of languages

Most surfers use the internet in English. But Chinese language use is not far behind. Around 464 million people currently use the internet in English. Around 321 million are using it in Chinese. Spanish speakers come next at 131 million, followed by Japanese with 94 million users.

Africa has fewer internet users than any other continent. Only around 5.5 per cent of Africans use the internet. The global average is 26.6 per cent.

The country with the highest number of internet users is Greenland, where more than 92.2 per cent use it. Hong Kong comes 18th, with nearly 70 per cent of people using it.

now do this

1 The language that computers use to communicate is called a ...

a. Aparnet

b. protocol

c. Net

2 The first browser that used graphics, or pictures, was called ...

a. Mosaic

b. Explorer

c. Netscape

3 The links between pages on the internet are called ...

a. Web pages

b. internet protocol

c. hyperlinks


June 17