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What is the internet?
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (www) is a system of interlinked hypertext
documents accessed via the Internet. With a Web browser, one can
view Web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other
multimedia and navigate between them using hyperlinks. Using
concepts from earlier hypertext systems, the World Wide Web was
begun in 1989 by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee, working at
the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva,
In 1990, he proposed building a "web of nodes" storing "hypertext
pages" viewed by "browsers" on a network, and released that web
in 1992. Connected by the existing Internet, other websites were
created, around the world, adding international standards for
domain names & the HTML language. Since then, Berners-Lee has
played an active role in guiding the development of Web
standards, and in recent years has advocated his vision of a
The World Wide Web enabled the spread of information over the
Internet through an easy-to-use and flexible format. It thus
played an important role in popularising use of the Internet, to
the extent that the World Wide Web has become a synonym for
Internet, with the two being conflated in popular use.
Brief history of the internet
Before there was the public internet there was the internet's
forerunner ARPAnet or Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks.
ARPAnet was funded by the United States military after the cold
war with the aim of having a military command and control center
that could withstand nuclear attack. The point was to distribute
information between geographically dispersed computers. ARPAnet
created the TCP/IP communications standard, which defines data
transfer on the Internet today. The ARPAnet opened in 1969 and
was quickly usurped by civilian computer nerds who had now found
a way to share the few great computers that existed at that
Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee was the man leading the development of the World
Wide Web (with help of course), the defining of HTML (hypertext
markup language) used to create web pages, HTTP (HyperText
Transfer Protocol) and URLs (Universal Resource Locators). All of
those developments took place between 1989 and 1991.
Tim Berners-Lee was born in London, England and graduated in
Physics from Oxford University in 1976. He is currently the
Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, the group that sets
technical standards for the Web.
Besides Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf is also named as an internet
daddy. Ten years out of high school, Vinton Cerf begun
co-designing and co-developing the protocols and structure of
what became the Internet.
Vannevar Bush first proposed the basics of hypertext in 1945. Tim
Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, HTML (hypertext markup
language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and URLs (Universal
Resource Locators) in 1990. Tim Berners-Lee was the primary
author of html, assisted by his colleagues at CERN, an
international scientific organization based in Geneva,
Computer engineer, Ray Tomlinson invented internet based email in
How it works?
Viewing a Web page on the World Wide Web normally begins either
by typing the URL of the page into a Web browser, or by following
a hyperlink to that page or resource. The Web browser then
initiates a series of communication messages, behind the scenes,
in order to fetch and display it. First, the server-name portion
of the URL is resolved into an IP address using the global,
distributed Internet database known as the domain name system, or
DNS. This IP address is necessary to contact and send data
packets to the Web server.
The browser then requests the resource by sending an HTTP request
to the Web server at that particular address. In the case of a
typical Web page, the HTML text of the page is requested first
and parsed immediately by the Web browser, which will then make
additional requests for images and any other files that form a
part of the page. Statistics measuring a website's popularity are
usually based on the number of 'page views' or associated server
'hits', or file requests, which take place.
Having received the required files from the Web server, the
browser then renders the page onto the screen as specified by its
HTML, CSS, and other Web languages. Any images and other
resources are incorporated to produce the on-screen Web page that
the user sees.
Most Web pages will themselves contain hyperlinks to other
related pages and perhaps to downloads, source documents,
definitions and other Web resources. Such a collection of useful,
related resources, interconnected via hypertext links, is what
was dubbed a "web" of information. Making it available on the
Internet created what Tim Berners-Lee first called the
According to a 2001 study, there were massively more than 550
billion documents on the Web, mostly in the invisible Web, or
deep Web. A 2002 survey of 2,024 million Web pages
determined that by far the most Web content was in English:
56.4%; next were pages in German (7.7%), French (5.6%), and
Japanese (4.9%). A more recent study, which used Web searches in
75 different languages to sample the Web, determined that there
were over 11.5 billion Web pages in the publicly indexable Web as
of the end of January 2005. As of June 2008, the indexable
web contains at least 63 billion pages. On July 25, 2008,
Google software engineers Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj announced
that Google Search had discovered one trillion unique
Over 100.1 million websites operated as of March 2008. Of
these 74% were commercial or other sites operating in the .com
generic top-level domain.
If a user revisits a Web page after only a short interval, the
page data may not need to be re-obtained from the source Web
server. Almost all Web browsers cache recently-obtained data,
usually on the local hard drive. HTTP requests sent by a browser
will usually only ask for data that has changed since the last
download. If the locally-cached data are still current, it will
Caching helps reduce the amount of Web traffic on the Internet.
The decision about expiration is made independently for each
whatever other content the site may provide. Thus even on sites
with highly dynamic content, many of the basic resources only
need to be refreshed occasionally. Web site designers find it
into a few site-wide files so that they can be cached
efficiently. This helps reduce page download times and lowers
demands on the Web server.
WWW prefix in Web addresses
The letters "www" are commonly found at the beginning of Web
addresses because of the long-standing practice of naming
Internet hosts (servers) according to the services they provide.
So for example, the host name for a Web server is often "www";
for an FTP server, "ftp"; and for a USENET news server, "news" or
"nntp" (after the news protocol NNTP). These host names appear as
DNS subdomain names, as in "www.example.com".
This use of such prefixes is not required by any technical
standard; indeed, the first Web server was at
"nxoc01.cern.ch", and even today many Web sites exist without
a "www" prefix. The "www" prefix has no meaning in the way the
main Web site is shown. The "www" prefix is simply one choice for
a Web site's host name.
However, some website addresses require the www. prefix, and if
typed without one, won't work; there are also some which must be
typed without the prefix. Sites that do no have Host Headers
properly setup are the cause of this. Some hosting companies do
not setup a www or @ A record in the web server configuration
and/or at the DNS server level.
W3C Develops Web Standards and Guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international
consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the
public work together to develop Web standards. W3C's mission is:
To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing
protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the
W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web
standards and guidelines. Since 1994, W3C has published more than
110 such standards, called W3C Recommendations. W3C also engages
in education and outreach, develops software, and serves as an
open forum for discussion about the Web. In order for the Web to
reach its full potential, the most fundamental Web technologies
must be compatible with one another and allow any hardware and
software used to access the Web to work together. W3C refers to
this goal as “Web interoperability.” By publishing
open (non-proprietary) standards for Web languages and protocols,
W3C seeks to avoid market fragmentation and thus Web
fragmentation. Tim Berners-Lee and others created W3C as an
industry consortium dedicated to building consensus around Web
technologies. Mr. Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in
1989 while working at the European Organization for Nuclear
Research (CERN), has served as the W3C Director since W3C was
founded, in 1994.
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