World Wide WHAT?
By Steve Plunkett
In our last issue, we told you how to start your day the Internet way. This brought out several questions. First, I do get up before 6am and get that much stuff done, that seems to be the only easy answer. We received several questions about the Internet, to someone who has been "online" for several years, just don't come to mind. Guess what? It's time to answer them ALL!!!
The Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why of the Internet is a Herculean task, but I think we can handle it. Once upon a time in a country named the United States of America, there was a man named Ike, as in "I Like Ike!!" President Dwight D. Eisenhower created a federal agency called the Advanced Research Projects Administration, or ARPA. This agency was established to explore new technologies related to defense. In 1969 this agency created ARPAnet. ARPAnet was developed to allow researchers to login and run programs on remote computers, but it quickly became an essential tool for sharing information through, and file transfer (FTP), electronic mail (E-mail), and interest-group mailing lists (News groups) . In 1980 the architects of the ARPANET designed a new architecture and protocol suite called TCP/IP. This is the system we currently use to communicate across the Internet from one computer to another. In a nutshell the Internet is just a bunch of big phone lines used to carry data (sent in packets) from one computer to another.
Unless you live in a cave, you have probably seen the "www" and ".com" printed on company letterheads and in newspaper ads, almost every TV commercial shows some kind of corporate web site address or "URL". These are web sites composed of web pages on the World Wide Web; the Web is just an extension of the possibilities of the Internet. The Web came about in March of 1989, when Tim Barnes-Lee proposed a project that would allow scientists to easily browse fellow researchers' papers on the Internet.
The name World Wide Web or WWW was granted to this project. During August 1991 Mr. Barnes-Lee announced availability of software from CERN in USENET newsgroups. The new language was developed, known as hypertext Markup Language or HTML and the protocol for handling HTML documents was to be called HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP.
This all gathered together into what we use today when a new program called a "browser" was released from National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NSCA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called Mosaic in February 1993. Later that month Marc Andreessen from NCSA proposed that images could be placed in the browser with a tag to be called "IMG". With that addition, Mosaic became truly multimedia. This is how you see all those beautiful pictures of Hawaii on web pages.
A little over one year later, Marc Andreessen and Jim Clarc, former CEO of Silicon Graphics, founded what was called, at first, Mosaic Communication Inc. They hired many of the Mosaic and WWW developers and started to work on new browser and secure WWW server to allow transaction over the Internet. After protest from NCSA's lawyers name Mosaic Communication was changed to Netscape Communications and its first browser was released. This is more than you could ever possibly want to know about the World Wide Web, but now you know.
I think that establishes the beginnings of the Internet. Do you want to know how to get on the Internet? First of all you will need a computer or a WebTV device. WebTV is a box that you can use with your TV to connect to the Internet for sending e-mail and viewing web pages. These units are an alternative way of experiencing the Internet. If this is all budgets will allow then some Internet access is better than no Internet access at all.Computers are machines or "Hardware" used to run applications called "Programs". The underlying sets of instructions used to tell the computer what to do are called "operating systems". There are several different operating systems, Windows95, Windows 3.x (older version of Win95), and MacOS are the most popular. The most popular are the DOS (Disk Operating System) based ones, Win95 and Win3.x. The MacOS runs on an Apple Macintosh computer which this magazine is created and this article was written.
Once you have the computer, you will need a modem (a device that connects your computer to the phone line), which will allow you to connect to another computer somewhere else. These modems range in speed from 14.4 KBPS (kilobytes per second) to the new 56kbps speed. The faster the better because this determines the speed at which data is brought into your computer. Data being brought into your computer is called "downloading".Downloading is one of the greatest technologies for business or personal use to come around since the fax machine.
To connect to the Internet you must sign up with an Internet service provider or "ISP", like for example "Ballistic Action Net". Internet service providers are connected to that big bunch of phone lines we talked about earlier, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The monthly costs to be connected to an ISP are usually around twenty dollars a month. Once your computer has dialed across the phone lines and connected to your ISP, you are connected to the internet, basically all the internet consists of is a bunch of computers like yours connected to the big bunch of phone lines. Now that you are connected some say you are "online". This means that you will have your own e-mail address like "email@example.com" . E-mail or electronic mail is the ability to send some words, pictures, sounds or even movies from your computer to another computer somewhere else. This also allows you to access newsgroups, web pages, ftp sites, chat channels, and even play games with people all over the world.
WARNING: THIS IS
Web sites consist of web pages; web pages consist of text, graphics, sounds, and or movies. Just in case you didn't know it, this entire article will be on the Tyler Today website "www.TylerToday.com" . Sorry no movies or sounds yet. Almost anybody can design a website, and not all websites are created equal, but if the website is not inserted into the search engines, it is just a snowflake in a snowstorm. Search engines are like the card catalog at the library that helps you find books on a particular subject. There are approximately 736 search engines on every type category or sub-category you could possibly think of, but there are about 10 really popular ones that most people use. A web site or web page can be in one search engine but not in all of them, so different search engines can have different results. If you still haven't found what you are looking for don't worry it is there somewhere.
Web surfing (riding this link to that link and so on) is only one of the other things you can do on the Internet besides e-mail. There are all kinds programs for all your needs. There are "chat" clients, that are programs used to "chat" (talk real-time by typing, called IRC- Internet Relay Chat) with other people all over the world. The programs cost money to buy, but you can spend hours, sometimes even days talking to friends on the other side of the planet. Chat is the business replacement for those silly speaker phone conferences with the home office in Des Moines. You could theoretically have 50 people from your company all over the globe talking to each other and sharing ideas for the cost of an Internet connection rather than international long distance charges. Back before the graphics, sound and video came along with the web pages, College students and/or professors would group together on MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions) they could simulate working conditions, thought processes and a myriad of opportunities to share ideas and problems with each other. These MUDs still exist, the scholarly uses now have moved to different platforms, but MUDs are still an enjoyable experience for kids or adults of all ages. A good one to check out online is MoongateOnline, by Ingenii Interactive, a very fun game.
Games are something that has really exploded on the Internet.With the graphics and sound capabilities of today's computers, you can become immersed in other worlds, complete with sight, sound, and yes--even touch. A very popular game is "Quake"; this game equips your computer with rocket launchers, double-barreled shotguns, and many other kinds of weapons to simulate running around a maze and defeating the forces of evil, or current and former co-workers. With a connection to the Internet, you can connect to other computers directly across the Internet or connect to one of thousands of game servers worldwide and battle or team up with other Internet users. Most of the games in the software stores today come with some kind of component that allows one person to connect to another or some type of server that allows players to congregate.
We hope this has helped you understand the complexities and possibilities of the wonderful World Wide Web and the Internet. Of course once you get connected the internet service provider, "ISP" should have a good technical support crew to help you explore all the advantages and wonderful things
you can accomplish on the big bunch of phone lines we call the Internet.