|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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