About the Internet
For those unfamiliar with the Internet, a brief introduction is in order. The Internet began about 20 years ago as a US Defense Dept. network called ARPAnet. It was designed as a robust wide area network which would withstand everything from individual system outages to a nuclear attack. Later development of local area networks (LANs) and the adoption of ARPAnet's IP packet routing protocols by major universities and other branches of the US government created a demand for more integrated data communications between organizations over large areas. Work by various organizations, including major contributions by the National Science Foundation, resulted in the development of the Internet, and international peer to peer data communications network using a family of packet routing protocols known as TCP/IP. Individual computers might be connected to the Internet with standard phone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave links, or other communications hardware. Each computer on the Internet is connected to all others through its immediate neighbors on the net. Packets of data conforming to the TCP/IP standard each contain address, routing and job information much like letters sent through the postal service.

A variety of innovative services are available on the Internet today thanks to the dedicated efforts of programmers and administrators at a number of Internet sites. A large number of sites allow the general Internet using public to log on and read or transfer files. Several provide data search and retrieval programs such as WAIS and Gopher capable of doing world-wide searches for files, subjects or even individual words in text documents.

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