The internet vs world wide web

The internet and World Wide Web are exactly the same thing. Aren’t they?

The words internet and World Wide Web (or www – the abbreviation of the worldwide web) are used interchangeably but did you know they’re not actually referring to the same thing?

What’s the difference?

The internet – which is now known as the internet (lower case i) refers to the core structure and hardware, which is the interconnected global network of individual computers, servers and even satellites, that are capable of sending packets of information to each other. These information packets includes email, chat services and file transfers. The networks are all connected to each other via copper wire, fibre-optic cables or wireless devices. The internet is accessible to all and governed by a set of international regulations and rules known as the Internet Protocol (IP).

The World Wide Web – really refers to what sits on top of the internet, or the software component of the internet, comprised of web pages that all use the Hyper Text Transfer Protocol to link pages, documents, images, video, animations and any of the other resources found on the web. Search engines work by looking for hyperlinks on the World Wide Web. Pages can be linked to any other page on the web, regardless of its geographical location – which is exactly how the World Wide Web got its name.

Interweb history 101

There are a few different versions, but it’s generally agreed that the first Wide Area Network (WAN) was created in the USA in 1983 and it was shortly followed by other WANs, which all became connected to each other and the earlier British version (the International Packet Switched Service – IPSS) in 1985. This new international network created new definitions of the file Transfer Control Protocols and the internet was born.

The birth of the World Wide Web is more definitive, but also more complex. It was invented in 1989 by British software engineer Sir Tim Berners-Lee, while he was working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva Switzerland. On August 6, 1991, Sir Tim Berners-Lee posted a short summary of his project to build an interconnected information management system, called the World Wide Web project, to a newsgroup on the internet – which marked the first time the Web was used as a publicly available service on the internet.

The next phase

There’s always speculation and wild theories about where the internet and the World Wide Web will take us next. There are actually groups of people devoted to the task, including www founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee who now runs the World Wide Web consortium (W3C), which has the role of keeping standards as simple and compatible as possible across both the internet and the World Wide Web – regardless of where the ever-evolving digital technology takes us.

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