The Internet is a global system of Computer networks. By the use of Packet Switching, Data is transmitted using the uniform standard Internet Protocol over millions of interconnected networks used by individuals, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies to form the World Wide Web. Through the Internet, Users can browse Websites, Chat with others, Game with gamers around the world, Send or Receive files, and manage E-mail. The Internet has been referenced as The Information Superhighway. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) once described the internet like this, "The Internet is not just something that you just dump something on, its not a big truck. Its a series of tubes".
The History of the Internet
The earliest known ancestor of the Internet is known as The Victorian Internet. It consisted of Telegraphs made of Morse Code to transmit messages across long distances. The original electronic signal standard of +/- 15 v. is still used in network interface cards today.
The first modern incarnate of the Internet was developed in 1968 as a collaboration between United States Agency DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the technology company BBN (Bolt, Beranek & Newman) to create ARPAnet. Through the use of Packet Switching, ARPAnet connections at several terminals were able to transmit Data over the expansive distance between them. ARPANET, whose original IP address was 10.0.0.0, was shut down in 1990, ending what was the prototype that would later become what we today know as the internet.
The web went world wide for the first time in 1973 when ARPAnet connection outside the US was established to NORSAR in Norway, just ahead of the connection to Great Britain. In 1974, using the research of ARPAnet and Packet Switching technology, Robert E. Kahn of DARPA and Vinton Cerf of Stanford University created the internet standard TCP/IP. By 1984, TCP/IP was accepted universally and used by all ARPAnet hosts creating the current infrastructure of the Internet. It is also to note that in 1984 the Apple Macintosh was released. A feature, although very slow feature by today's standards, was the inclusion of the AppleTalk local area network which allowed different Mac users to be linked together. Later in the development of AppleTalk, AppleTalk networks could be linked to the internet via a gateway connection.
In 1991, Minnesota University released Gopher, which for a time rivaled and beat out in popularity what they called the Internet back then primarily due to Gopher's simplicity. Gopher was nothing more than a hierarchical menu system for browsing files and could be used without first converting text documents into HTML code.
The Internet & New Media
The Internet should not be confused as being New Media. The Internet is better defined as a medium upon which many forms of New Media reside. Some examples of New Media that would never have came about without the internet include Blogs, Social Networks, Social Bookmarking and Wikis. Keep in mind these only represent a sampling of forms of New Media on the Internet.