For The Beginners In The Internet [Archives:1999/35/Science & Technology]

August 30 1999

I have been receiving a lot of letters and requests from YT readers asking “What is the Internet?” After the last three issues that had a section called (Online Debate), the number of people interested to know of the Internet, how they can subscribe, how they can use it, and how they can benefit from it had tremendously increased. The readers see the advertisements of Teleyemen, on the paper, on the advertisement boards on Hadda Street. they hear of the Internet from some TV channels, through newspapers, etc. However, they also want to know exactly how they could use it for their own benefit and using their own computers. There are a lot of Yemeni sites on the Internet which many want to know about, however, these sites will be published in future editions of Yemen Times. This section is dedicated to introduce this new world to our readers who are still wondering what the Internet is. So begin following this section, and get connected to the world of the Internet.  
So, what’s the Internet anyway? 
On its site at (, Yemen’s only Internet Provider Teleyemen describes what you would get after subscribing to the the Internet in a short sentence, “.. gives you access to the Internet, and you’ll be linked to millions of computer users around the world . You have instant access to the world of information and entertainmentÉ It is your window to the world! “Internet is the word used to describe the world-wide network of computers. The word “internet” literally means network of networks”. The Internet is comprised of thousands of smaller regional networks scattered throughout the globe. On any given day it connects roughly 20 million users worldwide. The World-Wide Web is mostly used on the Internet; they do not mean the same thing. The Web refers to a body of information – an abstract space of knowledge available via the Internet, while the Internet refers to the physical side of the global network, a giant mass of cables and computers. 
Nobody “owns” the Internet – although there are companies that help manage different parts of the networks that tie everything together. There is no single governing body that controls what happens on the Internet. The networks within different countries are funded and managed locally according to local policies. 
Having access to the Internet usually means that one has access to a number of basic services: electronic mail, interactive conferences, access to information resources, news groups, and the ability to transfer files. 
The World-Wide Web uses the Internet to transmit hypermedia documents between computer users internationally. Much in the same way, nobody “owns” the World-Wide Web. People are responsible for the documents they author and make available publicly on the Web. Via the Internet, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are making information available from their homes, schools, and workplaces. 
It’s possible to use World-Wide Web software without having to use the Internet. But Internet access is necessary in order to make full use of and participate in the World-Wide Web. 
In technical terms, the Internet is a worldwide network of networks which interconnects computers ranging from desktop Macs to the largest supercomputers. No one knows how large the Internet is. Some estimates range as high as two million computers used by close to 20 million people. No one is in charge of the Internet and because it is so large and complex, no one understands everything about it. One thing is clear, and that is that the Internet is rich in information resources of all kinds and expanding at a very rapid rate. You can use the Internet to view artwork, to listen to music, to access library catalogs and databases, to obtain software or electronic books, to get the latest satellite weather maps, to communicate with friends on the other side of the world, and to do additional things that weren’t even dreamed about when this sentence was written. For those of you who care about technical considerations, all of the computers on the Internet communicate with one another using the Internet protocol suite, usually called IP. Most of the Internet computers also use Transmission Control Protocol, usually called TCP. The Internet is often called a TCP/IP network. 
How the Internet Started 
In 1973, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) initiated a research program to investigate techniques and technologies for interlinking networks. The objective was to develop communication protocols, which would allow networked computers to communicate across multiple, linked packet networks. This was called the “Internetting project” and the system of networks, which emerged became 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). This was the beginning of the Internet, the joining of research and other networks enabling them to work together and share information regardless of their physical location to each other. In 1986, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated the development of the NSFNET which provides a major backbone communication service for the Internet. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy contributed additional backbone facilities in the form of the NSINET and ESNET. In Europe, major international backbones such as NORDUNET and others provide connectivity to over one hundred thousand computers on a large number of networks. Commercial network providers in the U.S. and Europe are beginning to offer Internet backbone and access support on a competitive basis to any interested parties. Various networks provide “Regional” support for the Internet and “local” support is provided through each of the research and educational institutions. In the United States, much of this support has come from the federal and state governments, with industry also making a considerable contribution. During the course of its evolution, particularly after 1989, the Internet system began to integrate support for other protocol suites into its basic networking fabric. The present emphasis in the system is on multi-protocol interworking with the integration of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocols into the architecture. 
Both public domain and commercial implementations of the roughly 100 protocols of TCP/IP protocol suite became available in the 1980’s. During early 1990’s, OSI protocol implementations also became available and, by the end of 1991, the Internet has grown to include some 5,000 networks in over three dozen countries, serving over 700,000 host computers used by over 4,000,000 people. 
A great deal of support for the Internet community has come from the U.S. Federal Government, since the Internet was originally part of a federally-funded research program and has become a major part of the U.S. research infrastructure. During the late 1980’s the population of Internet users and network constituents expanded internationally and began to include commercial facilities. 
The Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Networks (CCIRN), which was organized by the U.S. Federal Networking Council (FNC) and the European Reseaux Associees pour la Recherche Europeenne (RARE), plays an important role in the coordination of plans for government-sponsored research networking. CCIRN efforts have been a stimulus for the support of international cooperation in the Internet environment. CCIRN determined that while the idea behind the Internet of sharing information across networks, the use of this system was difficult at best. Determined to come up with a better way to access and view the information they began work on such a system, distributing a project proposal in 1989. Over the next few years they worked in conjunction with other organizations to develop a browser to search, use and view the information that the networks were sharing. In 1991 the WWW (World Wide Web) was officially born on central CERN machines utilizing Hypertext Language. Over the next couple of years various browsers came into creation and distribution, such as Line mode browser, Midas & Viola browsers, CERN Mac, Xmosaic. During 1992 and 1993 the World Wide Web began to gain attention due to the ease of use the new browsers offered, providing access to files regardless of the platforms being used, and not requiring a genius to access files. In March 1992, the WWW traffic measured .1% of NSF backbone traffic. By September of the same year it grew to 1%. Since then the WWW has continued to grow and is now used for personal use from home, as well as educational, research and business applications.