In the beginning there was one computer. In these days computers were about as smart as today’s television sets and were as big as 5-6 story buildings. Then as machines became smaller (to the size of closets) two people wanted to share information. So they hooked a cable between the two and sent information to each other. This was simple. Then a third guy wanted to join. After much thinking they connected the computers like this 1-2-3. Therefore the computer in the middle took information from the third computer and forwarded it to computer number one and vice a versa. Then a ton of people joined. The layout formed lines, stars (one machine in the center of bunch) and circles.
Since there were so many machines people, wanted to have them talk in different ways. One way is like mail, where you send a letter and don’t wait for an immediate response. A second is like a phone call where you want to “guarantee” a response and wait for the person to respond. So each machine developed what they call ports. Each one dealing with a specific way of machine communication. One of the most popular ports port 52 handles e-mail.
Because there were thousands of machines it was hard to find the correct address for the correct machine. These addresses looked like this 192.168.1.1. So someone set up a machine that let people use words to look up these addresses. Now one can look for whitehouse.gov (the computer for the Whitehouse) and not know the complicated numbers.
The second most used feature of the internet is called a web browser. People write pages and leave them on their computer (kind of like a big cork board of notes per machine). Other people go to these computers and look them up. Each page points to other pages that can be on that machine or elsewhere. This creates a interconnected “web” of links.
Because people put up so many notes, companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft created machine librarians that took these notes and sorted them. These librarians are called search engines. Now if you don’t know where something is you can go to one of these companies and search for it. This can be done for free. To operate the Internet, you don’t need to know which computer has the information you want, how it gets to you or where it is. It’s all automatically handled for you.