Internet 101 The basics of the Internet

While the Internet is taking the world by storm, it hasn’t brought everyone into its grasp. Not yet, anyway.
For those unfamiliar with the basics, Wauwatosa’s Terri Liska offers some background information on the Internet and its World Wide Web. Liska is the founder and owner of Cyber-Dog Marketing Solutions, a Internet-focused marketing agency.
The Internet offers businesses two useful components: e-mail and the World Wide Web. You might consider the Internet as a highway, and the Web as stores and other businesses and organizations along that highway; e-mail is the postal service.
The prime attribute of the Web is its ability to store and allow for the easy transfer of graphical information – pictures and other visual elements. Without that attribute, it would only be practical to send textual information over the Internet.
Thus, Websites can offer words, still and moving pictures, and sound – all in a package that can be accessed via other computers which are hooked up to the Internet.
A further attribute of Websites is interactivity. You can track the number of people looking at your site. And you can set up sites that allow immediate reader response, including purchases – “electronic commerce.”
E-mail is another use of the Internet that offers quick, individual or broadcast communications. Both text and graphics can be e-mailed.
To get on the “information superhighway,” you need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as America Online or Exec PC. Having a provider allows you or your firm to create a Web page and have e-mail capability.
Your ISP is connected to what are called “hubs.” There are fewer than a dozen hubs in the United States, Liska says.
The hubs, besides being connected to each other, are connected to your ISP (or other providers) where they connect the ISP computers (servers) to you via a phone or cable line which is in turn connected to your computer.
When someone looks up your Website’s Internet address or Uniform Resource Locator (URL), your URL represents a series of what are called protocols, which are transmitted through the telephone line and are followed to the source of the protocol (which is your ISP). When it finds the protocol, it grabs all text and graphics stored on the servers for your Web page at your ISP and is able to display the information to the user.
E-mail works almost the same way. When you establish an account with your ISP, you are assigned an e-mail address. The mail is stored in your unique “mailbox” at your ISP. A number of “aliases” can be set up, allowing one e-mail address to have different names.
April 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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