MBONE: Multicasting Tomorrow's Internet

What Is the Internet, Anyhow?

This book assumes that you are somewhat familiar with the Internet and some of the terminology that goes along with it. You don't need to be an Internet guru, or even have an Internet account. Our goal is to show seasoned Internauts and "clueless newbies" (as new users are so affectionately called) what's around the corner on the information superhighway. If you need some basic information about how the Internet works and what you can do with it, your bookstore probably has a billion different books on the subject. Two such books are Your Internet Consultant -- the FAQs of Life Online by Kevin Savetz, and Teach Yourself the Internet in a Week by Neil Randall, both of which you should definitely buy in mass quantities. But just in case your bookstore isn't open at the moment, here are a few major points.

The Internet is the world's largest computer network. It's an international collection of smaller networks, computers, and the people who use them. By some estimates, as many as 25 million people have access to the Net. The commercial on-line services (CompuServe, America Online, Delphi, and so on) are all part of the Net. Your business's or school's computer system may be on the Net. The person sitting beside you at the doughnut store could well have an Internet account, as could that wazoo who cut you off on the freeway this morning.

Users on the Internet can exchange electronic mail with each other, copy files from computer to computer (even if those computers are thousands of miles apart), play games, access databases of information, chat it up in electronic re-creations of pubs, and lots more. In fact, folks on the Internet can use their computers to communicate in countless amazing ways -- from the useful (getting live satellite images of the weather, for example) to the useless (such as finding out how many colas are left in a soft drink machine in a college dorm somewhere in Massachusetts). Some people spend many hours every day browsing the World Wide Web or reading and posting messages in newsgroups, and it's quickly becoming possible to buy everything from printers to pizzas by simply logging into your account.

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