Internet Terminology and Definitions

Prepared by Steven C. Perkins (

Table of Contents


the name given to the collective electronic network of computers and computer networks which are inter-connected throughout the world - started with the ARPAnet at the US Dept. of Defense.

the name given to the computer network which carries newsgroups - newsgroups are arranged in heirarchies based loosely on subject matter - the USENET is often confused with the INTERNET in the news media - started by two students at Duke University.

WorldWideWeb - WWW - W3
the name given to the collection of computers which serve information in hypertext format to the INTERNET - invented by Dr. Tim Berners-Lee, at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), who wrote the first hyper text transfer protocol daemon (HTTPD) and the first hyper text markup language (HTML) browser, as a way to allow nuclear physicists to exchange working papers over the computer networks.

HTTPD - Hyper-text Transfer Protocol Daemon
a computer program which manages the transfer of hyper-text and multimedia documents over the INTERNET.

HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language
the text markup language used to insert tags which allow a Web browser to correctly display a hyper-text document. HTML1, HTML +, HTML 2 and HTML 3 are versions of HTML in use at this time. HTML is a subset of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) first invented to display legal texts and now the world standard for large documentation projects.

VRML - Virtual Reality Modeling Language
a tagging language for conveying three dimensional information over the Internet using a VRML browser.

documents which contain links to other documents within them - footnotes are a form of hypertext link.

documents which contain text, sound, graphics and video elements that are all capable of being displayed to the user.

documents which combine hypertext links and multimedia elements.

the network news transfer protocol daemon which serves USENET newsgroups across the Internet.

NNTP Server
the computer which you connect to to receive USENET newsgroups and post USENET news articles.

the Domain Name System which identifies each computer as a network node on the Internet using an internet protocol address system to translate from domain names to IP numbers and vice-versa.

DNS Server
the computer you use to access the DNS to allow you to contact other computers on the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions document which answers FAQs about various subjects.

RFC - Request for Comments
a document which defines Internet operating protocols - despite the name it is more a statement of agreed standards than a request.

Internet Access Provider (IAP)/Internet Service Provider (ISP)
an organization or commercial enterprise which provides access to the Internet.

a computer connection that is brought up and brought down as needed - a simple version is dialing in to a servive provider over a modem as a dumb terminal - SLIP and PPP can also be dial-up connections - also known as a switched connection.

Dumb Terminal
when a computer is running a terminal emulation program while connected to another computer.

SLIP - Serial Line Internet Protocol
a non-standard method of electronically connecting a remote computer to an IP network as a node on the network most popular method at present to use graphical browsers on the Internet - first used to connect ham radios to the Internet.

PPP - Point to Point Protocol
an Internet standard for electronically connectiong a remote computer to an IP network - the method slowly replacing SLIP.

a method for directly connecting a computer to a network in the same physical location - much faster connection than SLIP or PPP.

Wireless Network
a method using infra-red, ultra-violet or radio waves, of connecting computers into a network.

ISDN - Integrated Services Digital Network
a digital telephone network that allows personal home computers to connect to remote networks.

a device that modulates and demodulates telephone toned to allow for the multiplexing of information on the telephone network.

Cable Modem
a device that allows a computer to connect to a cable television system and connect to a computer network - cable modems work at speeds approaching Ethernet connections - probable wide-spread future way to connect to the Internet.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol
a method of serving and obtaining files over the Internet.

a method of logging into another computer as a terminal on that computer.

NFS - Network File System
a set of protocols that allow transparent access to a remote computers file system - another type is the Andrew File System (AFS).

a method of serving or retrieving files over the Internet - it has largely been replaced by the Web.

a client program that retrieves documents and other materials from an HTTPD server and displays them in accord with the HTML specification - MOSAIC was the first widely available browser - CELLO was the second browser - NETSCAPE is the most used browser at this time.

a specification for a program that implements a "socket" connection under the MS Windows environment - a winsock is needed for SLIP or PPP connections under WINDOWS.

a program used on Macintosh computers to provide socket connections for SLIP and PPP connections.

a software application that allows one to exchange messages with someone else.

IRC - Internet Relay Chat
a method for serving and retrieving connections for real-time conferencing over computer networks.

WAIS - Wide Area Information Service
a method of finding information on the Internet.

a system to find files available for retrieval by FTP.

a system for finding files available from GOPHER servers.

White Pages
lists of Internet users

a terminal emulation of an IBM 3270 terminal.

a terminal emulation of a DEC VT100 terminal.

a program for sending and receiving video and audio over the Internet - also contains a conferencing program and whiteboard facility.
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Questions? Comments? Ka-Neng Au (
Updated April 14, 1997