The Difference Between The Internet And The World Wide Web

By Mike Floorwalker on Thursday, August 22, 2013
“The NET is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.” —William Gibson

In A Nutshell

The World Wide Web is what we navigate every day, what you’re reading this page on right now. It dates to 1991, while the Internet—the underlying network, the framework on which the Web lies—was created much earlier.

The Whole Bushel

The mother of all computer networks, the Internet, grew out of government and university projects in the early 1970s. The obvious main predecessor of the Internet, ARPANET, was built by the US Government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency and became active in 1969. It was the first computer network to use packet switching technology—means of delivering information in small, easily transmitted “packets” that were relayed along points in the network (network switches and routers)—which helped maximize bandwidth efficiency.

Put simply, the Internet is the sum of all other networks. Your home network, gigantic corporate networks, the network your cell phone is on—all are part of the uber-network known as the Internet. Things like instant messaging and email protocols were first used in the 1970s, long before the development of the World Wide Web.

The Web is a sort of graphical user interface for the Internet. It’s not a physical web of hardware (a network), but basically the software that runs on it—or, more accurately, a web of information in the form of hyperlinks. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is what enables the Web to run, and it is essentially just a way to log in to a certain domain (website) without having to ask permission (say, with a user name and password).

Though many think of the World Wide Web and the Internet as being synonymous, the Internet could (and did) exist without the Web—but the Web couldn’t exist without the Internet. The first web page on the first web server was created at Switzerland’s CERN lab by Tim Berners-Lee on August 6, 1991.

Show Me The Proof

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