The Internet is a network of millions of computers all over the world that are connected with each other and work together. It started in the USA in the 1970s and 1980s as a government project. The World Wide Web , which came up in the middle of the 1990s , made the Internet easy to use for everybody.
Education , business, entertainment and government are changing as the Internet moves into the lives of more and more people.
A network is a group of computers that are connected to each other by cables or telephone lines. Most networks have one or more servers, more powerful computers that hold programmes and other data. A group of computers that are in the same room or building is usually called a LAN (Local Area Network). A Wide Area Network (WAN) connects computers that are far apart.
How the Internet Works
All computers that are connected to the Internet must speak the same language. It is called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol). and makes sure that information sent by one computer arrives at a certain destination.
Every computer on the Internet has an IP address. It is made up of 4 groups of up to 3 numbers, separated by a dot. For example : 126.96.36.199 . Such an IP number can only occur once in the whole world. Because such numbers are difficult to remember, computers have names, like “ www.news.at” or “ www.cnn.com” . If we want to get information from a certain computer we must type in its name. Special computers on the net have the job of turning names into numbers which computers can understand. Such computers are called Domain Name Servers (DNS).
When a computer sends data to another computer it is broken up into many small packets . These small packets can travel on their own . When they get to their destination , the packets are put together again in the right order . Each of them may take different routes and they pass by many other computers to get there.
- E-Mail is the oldest and most popular form of communication between computers. People send messages to each other using an email address . Such an address has two parts: the user name of a person and the name of the computer itself. These two parts are separated by the “@”.
Structure of an email address
- Newsgroups are discussion boards that let many people all over the world post messages on a certain topic . These messages are saved and people can read them over and over again.
- Chats are live Internet meetings in which you type a message into your keyboard and it appears immediately on the screens of other chatters. Groups of people meet in chat rooms where they talk about subjects they like.
- The World Wide Web is another popular way of sharing information on the Internet. It uses a special language called HTML , which stands for “ Hypertext Markup Language” . A document on the web can have text, pictures, animations, videos and music. Hyperlinks allow you to move to other documents on the same computer or let you travel around the world to another computer on the Internet.
If you want to read web pages you need a special kind of programme called a web browser, that can understand these documents . Common web browsers are the Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator or Firefox.
There are over 10 billion documents on the web. Each one of them has a unique address called a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). It looks like this:
People today like to start their web browser and click from one website to another to find information or to see what’s new. This is called browsing the net .
The Internet and the World Wide Web have put a world of information at our doorstep . But how can we find what we’re looking for? Search engines help us find the information we need. Most of them use programmes called spiders that visit as many websites as they can and put them into a catalogue or index .
However , Internet users must be careful. Just about anyone can put information on the web. Some of that information may be very accurate , but other information may be completely wrong. So it’s up to us to find out what’s right and what’s wrong.
How we use the Internet
The Internet and the World Wide Web play important roles in many areas of life:
- More and more products are sold over the net. Companies advertise their products on websites and customers can buy them online without going to a shop.
- Software can be downloaded from servers .
- News agencies , newspapers and TV stations bring breaking news stories to a worldwide audience . You can watch videos ,listen to interviews and look at photos of major events whenever you want to.
- People buy fewer CDs in music stores. More and more songs are downloaded from the Internet and copied to a discman or an MP3 player .
- Schools and universities use the Internet to find information. Pupils often get their homework over the Internet or send teachers essays and other homework. Pupils and teachers communicate with each other by email and in chat sessions .
- Scientists all over the world share information on different kinds of projects and experiments. It is even possible to make instruments, like telescopes or microscopes , work by remote control .
- The Internet has made travelling easier. You can book holidays and buy flight tickets on the net.
Dangers on the Internet
The Internet has many good sides but there are also dangers on the net. Here are some things that you should be aware of:
- Viruses are small computer programmes that are created by people who want to do damage to the Internet. They are made to make computers slower or, in some cases , erase important information or even make a computer crash . The Internet has made it easy to send these programmes from one computer to another. Very often, you get a virus by opening a file that comes with an email.
You can protect yourself by using anti-virus programmes. They warn you if a virus has reached your computer or if something is wrong.
Do not open email attachments if you don’t know who sent them !
- User names and passwords are very important personal information . When you browse the web there are many websites where you have to type in such information . You also need a password to read your email.
- Protect your passwords from other eyes.
- Think of passwords that are difficult to find out . Don’t use your phone number or your date of birth.
- Use a combination of numbers and letters
- Store your passwords in a safe place and don’t show them to anybody.
- Hackers are waiting to take control of your computer . Use a firewall to keep them out.
- From time to time security holes are discovered . Always download patches that give your operating system more protection .
- Log offline when you don’t need the Internet.
- Be careful when you buy something from online stores and make sure you are using a safe connection . A closed lock at the bottom of your browser shows you that you are on a safe website .
An Internet ABC
the way of saving web pages so that you can go back to them or find them again
A program me that finds information on the Internet and shows it on your computer screen
the first part of a website’s address ; it usually begins with www and ends with .com, .org , .net or other letters that show which country the website is from
to copy information from a computer on the Internet to your own computer
electronic messages or letters that you send from one computer to another
is a short word for “ Frequently Asked Questions” ; questions that many people ask
a type of computer file that pictures on the Internet use
a computer language that is used to write web pages on the World Wide Web ; it stands for “Hypertext Markup Language”
a word or a picture on a web page that will take you to another page when you click on it
all the computers that are connected together on a big worldwide network so that they can communicate with each other
a type of graphic file that is used for pictures and photos on the Internet
a device that you connect to your computer and the telephone line; it changes data that comes from the telephone to information that you can see on your computer
two or more computers that are connected to each other so that they can share information
if your computer is not connected to the Internet
a computer that is connected to the Internet
a place on the Internet where you can find information about something
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- accurate = true and correct
- advertise = to tell people about a product, so that they can buy it
- allow =let
- appear = you can see it
- area = field
- arrive = get to
- attachment = a file that comes with an email
- audience = people who watch or listen to something
- aware = be careful of
- billion = 1,000 million
- board = group
- breaking = here: an important event becomes known
- broken up =split apart
- browse the web = to click from one website to another
- business =the buying and selling of goods
- came up = started
- case =situation
- catalogue = a complete list of things
- certain =special
- common = a lot of people use it
- communicate = to exchange information
- communication = the way of sending information
- company = an organisation that makes or sells something
- connect = to join together
- crash = here : it suddenly stops working
- create = make
- customer = a person who buys something
- damage =the harm done to something
- data = information that is stored on a computer
- date of birth = the day, month and year of your birth
- destination = a place where something or someone is going to
- destination = a place where something or someone is going to
- device = a machine
- directory =catalogue, listing
- discover = to find out about something
- document = a page
- doorstep = very near your home
- dot =point
- download = to move from a computer on the Internet to your own computer
- education = teaching and learning
- entertainment =films, television and other performances that people go to or watch
- erase = to remove information from a computer
- essay = if you write about your ideas on a subject
- far apart = to be far away
- few = not many
- file = information on your computer that you store under a special name
- firewall = a system that protects your computer so that others cannot read data that you have saved or change programmes
- folder =directory, listing
- frequent = often
- from time to time = sometimes
- government =the people who rule a country
- hacker = a person who gets into your computer and changes information that you have saved
- however = but
- immediately = at once , right away
- index = here: database with a list of names or other information
- it’s up to us = it’s the work we have to do, it’s our job
- lock = an object that keeps something closed so that you cannot get in
- log offline = to stop using the Internet
- major = big, important
- make sure =to find out if something is true or see if it has been done
- message = written information that you send to someone
- microscope = an instrument that makes small things look larger
- MP3 player = a small machine that can play music that is downloaded from the web
- network = a group of computers that are connected to each other and exchange information
- news agency = an organisation that collects news stories and gives them to newspapers, radio and TV stations
- occur = happen, exist
- on their own =by themselves
- online = if you are connected to the Internet
- operating system =a system in a computer that helps all the programs work together
- packet =small part
- patch = a small computer programme that you install to make your computer safer
- popular = liked by a lot of people
- post = to put a message on the Internet so that people can read it
- protect =defend, guard
- reach = get to
- remote control =a thing you use to control a TV or a radio without having to touch it
- right order = in the same way that they started out
- role = part
- route = path, a way from one place to another
- save = store
- scientist =a person who is trained in science
- screen =computer monitor
- search engine = a computer programme that helps you find information on the Internet
- security holes =areas into which viruses can get into your system
- separate =divide
- server = a big computer on a network that controls all the others
- session = meeting
- share = use together
- stands for = means
- store = save
- subject = thing that you talk about
- telescope = an instrument with which you can see things in space
- top level = highest
- type = write with a keyboard
- unique = there is only one in the whole world
- user name =a special name or word that allows you to work on a computer or send and get emails
- website = a place on the Internet where you can find information about something
- whole = all of
- worldwide = in the whole world