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The Internet

Hardware and Networks

Icons key:

For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation Teachers notes included in the Notes Page

Flash activity. These activities are not editable. Web addresses


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Learning objectives

Understand the origins and functions of the Internet. Know the processes behind sending e-mails and browsing the web. Understand the features of the World Wide Web, web browsers and websites.

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What is the Internet?


The Internet is a network of networks that connects governments, people and companies all over the world.
10 Downing Street, London, England

Koji Araki, Japan

Sydney Opera House, Australia

The Internet

Patels Fine Silks, India


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Where did it begin?


The Internet began in the 1980s to allow US universities to share computer resources. It grew so much that by the 1990s it had become possible for people to use the Internet from home. The World Wide Web (www) was developed to make browsing (viewing) easier through http (hypertext transfer protocol). http is a set of standards that allows web browsers and servers to communicate.

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Uses of the Internet

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How does it work?


When you connect to the Internet, you connect your computer to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This is done through telephone or cable services. Computer signals are digital but normal telephone lines are analogue, so you need an analogue to digital converter if you are using an analogue telephone line. This is called a modem (modulator/demodulator).

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Broadband and ISDN


Broadband connections connect through an ADSL modem. ADSL Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line is a way of transmitting data at high speeds through existing telephone lines. Broadband allows the user fast download speeds and the ability to stay connected to the service without having to dial up.

ISDN lines are digital and they transmit data faster than analogue lines. ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network is a set of communications standards allowing a single wire or optical fibre to carry voice, digital network services and video. ISDN is mostly used where broadband is not available. To connect to an ISDN line you need an ISDN router.
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Instant messaging in action

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Connecting to the Internet

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All that technology


Using the Internet to access a website involves ISPs, satellites, modems and phone lines.

Try and remember whats involved next time you are tapping your foot impatiently waiting for a web page to load! The actual connections may be made using microwaves and satellite links, in the same way that telephone calls are connected.

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IP address
How does your computer know where to send the data? Every computer that is connected to the Internet must have its own address, just as you need an address to have post delivered to you.

An Internet address is called an IP (Internet Protocol) address, and it is a series of numbers separated by dots, like this: 217.27.240.45
Can you imagine how difficult it would be if you had to remember the IP address of all the sites you wanted to visit? Its much easier to remember a web address in words, for example: http://www.boardworks.co.uk.
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URLs
The domain name system links the IP address (e.g. 217.27.240.45) with the text name or web address (e.g. http://www.boardworks.co.uk). This means that users only have to remember a short name instead of lots of numbers.

Most people still refer to this as a website address but its proper name is a URL or Uniform Resource Locator.

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URLs
URLs are usually made up of these parts:

www, standing for World Wide Web an organization name (.boardworks) a top level domain (.co) a country (.uk).
There are many top level domains, for instance .com, .org (organization), .sch (school), .ac (university). When you are deciding whether the information from a website is reliable, take a look at the URL as it will give you some idea about the source of the information.

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All in the name

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Speaking the same language


To allow different types of computers in different parts of the world to interact, there has to be some agreement about how they communicate. These standards are called protocols. http is the first part of many web addresses it stands for hypertext transfer protocol, and states the protocol that the site will use to communicate. HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it is the standard language for writing web pages.

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The software required


In order to connect to the Internet, you will probably need software from your ISP that sets up your connection. Web pages are loaded using a web browser, usually either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.

A web browser displays the web pages and allows you to move backwards and forwards through sites. You can also bookmark sites of specific interest by adding them to your list of favourite sites. You can even set a site as your home page, which will ensure it is the first web page loaded by your browser.
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Web browsers
Browsers also remember. The history function allows you to see the sites you visited over a period of time.

Web browsers can also look after security and privacy. Many browsers now come with a pop-up blocker to stop unwanted adverts appearing and browsers can also block cookies.
Cookies are small files of information sent backwards and forwards between websites and web browsers. Many sites use them to track user preferences and shopping habits. Some people do not like to give out this information, and set their browsers to block cookies.
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Web pages
A web page is a file that is loaded by a web browser. It is written in HTML code, and contains hyperlinks. When you click on a hyperlink, it takes you to another web page either on the same site or a different one. Most websites are several pages linked together which you navigate through using the hyperlinks.

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Web pages
Web pages can contain pictures, videos, animated graphics and sounds as well as text. File sizes for multimedia can be very large and this can slow down the loading of the web page.

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Match them up

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Summary
The Internet is a network of networks that connects governments, people and companies all over the world. The World Wide Web (www) was developed to make browsing (viewing) easier using http (hypertext transfer protocol). http is a set of standards (protocols) that allows web browsers and servers to communicate. You need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to connect to the Internet. Each computer has an IP address (numbers) and each website has a URL (name) which are linked together. A web page is a file that is loaded by a web browser. It is written in HTML code, and contains hyperlinks.
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