The Internet Portal

An Internet kiosk

The Internet (portmanteau of interconnected network) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

The origins of the Internet date back to research commissioned by the federal government of the United States in the 1960s to build robust, fault-tolerant communication with computer networks. The primary precursor network, the ARPANET, initially served as a backbone for interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1980s. The funding of the National Science Foundation Network as a new backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. The linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s marked the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet, and generated a sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile computers were connected to the network. Although the Internet was widely used by academia since the 1980s, commercialization incorporated its services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life.

Most traditional communication media, including telephony, radio, television, paper mail and newspapers are reshaped, redefined, or even bypassed by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as email, Internet telephony, Internet television, online music, digital newspapers, and video streaming websites. Newspaper, book, and other print publishing are adapting to website technology, or are reshaped into blogging, web feeds and online news aggregators. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of personal interactions through instant messaging, Internet forums, and social networking. Online shopping has grown exponentially both for major retailers and small businesses and entrepreneurs, as it enables firms to extend their "brick and mortar" presence to serve a larger market or even sell goods and services entirely online. Business-to-business and financial services on the Internet affect supply chains across entire industries.

The Internet has no single centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies. The overreaching definitions of the two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address (IP address) space and the Domain Name System (DNS), are directed by a maintainer organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols is an activity of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise. In November 2006, the Internet was included on USA Today's list of New Seven Wonders.

Selected article

Map of the early internet in 1982.
The history of the Internet dates back to the early development of communication networks. In the 1950s and early 1960s, prior to the widespread inter-networking that led to the Internet, most communication networks were limited by their nature to only allow communications between the stations on the network. Some networks had gateways or bridges between them, but these bridges were often limited or built specifically for a single use. One prevalent computer networking method was based on the central mainframe method, simply allowing its terminals to be connected via long leased lines. This method was used in the 1950s by Project RAND to support researchers such as Herbert A. Simon, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when collaborating across the continent with researchers in Santa Monica, California, on automated theorem proving and artificial intelligence.

Selected picture

Map of Seattle's Wi-Fi nodes
Credit: Seattle WiFi Map Project, Maps

Metropolitan area networks, or MANs, are large computer networks usually spanning a city. They typically use wireless infrastructure or Optical fiber connections to link their sites.



Main project: WikiProject Internet


Related WikiProjects: Blogging • Websites • Early Web History • Internet culture

What are WikiProjects?

Selected biography

Vint Cerf in 2007
Vinton Gray Cerf (born June 23, 1943) is an American computer scientist who is the "person most often called 'the father of the Internet'." His contributions have been recognized repeatedly, with honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Cerf's first job after getting his B.S. in mathematics from Stanford University was at IBM, where he worked for less than two years as a systems engineer supporting QUIKTRAN. He left IBM to become a principal programmer at UCLA; he then became an assistant professor at Stanford University where he co-designed the Department of Defense TCP/IP protocol suite with Robert E. Kahn. Cerf joined the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999, and is serving a term until the end of 2007; he previously served as the ICANN Chair.

Did you know...

Minnehaha Creek


Selected quote

Senator Ted Stevens
Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got ... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially. [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
Ted Stevens, 2006

Featured content

Things you can do

Main topics

Internet topics
Application layer
Collaborative software
Computer file
Computer network
Computer networking
Data (computing)
Electronic commerce
English on the Internet
File sharing
History of the Internet
Instant messaging
Internet access
Internet capitalization conventions
Internet censorship
Internet Control Message Protocol
Internet democracy
Internet Exchange Point
Internet Governance Forum
Internet privacy
Internet Protocol
Internet protocols
Internet research
Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Mosaic (web browser)
National Center for Supercomputing Applications
Net neutrality
Online chat
Remote access
Transmission Control Protocol
Scale-free network
Search engine
Social network service
Uniform resource locator
User agent
User Datagram Protocol
Virtual private network
Web browser
Web resource
Web service
Wide area network
World Summit on the Information Society
World Wide Web
List of basic Internet topics
List of Internet topics
Academic databases and search engines
List of blogging terms
List of HTTP headers
List of HTTP status codes
List of IP protocol numbers
List of journals available free online
List of IPv6 tunnel brokers
List of PHP editors
List of organizations with .INT domain names
List of social networking websites
List of newsgroups
Comp.* hierarchy
Sci.* hierarchy
List of RFCs
List of search engines
List of virtual communities
List of web directories
List of webcomics
List of websites founded before 1995

Related portals

Associated Wikimedia

Wikipedia's portals