The Difference Between The Internet And The World Wide Web

“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

What’s the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web?
What Is Packet Switching on Computer Networks?
Visit the First Website Ever Right Now to Celebrate Its 21st Birthday

  • Interesting !!

  • The internet was first created for lines of communication with the government in case of a Nuclear strike against the USA

    • aussieshepherd

      Yup, from the makers of nuclear warfare…

      • Yenski

        Just another case where sex and violence propel everything we do. In this case, the need for superior firepower, (ARPANET), created a way to interact with everyone on the earth; and we quickly used it for porn.

        • aussieshepherd

          Yeah. It’s unfortunate that most technological advances from the wheel to now are largely a product of warfare. Take for example the Saturn V that took man to the moon. It was designed by Von Braun, who happened to be the designer of the V-2 for the Nazis…kind of a bummer.

  • aussieshepherd

    Thank you! Having been in the industry for 23 years, it’s nice to see someone clarify the distinction to the masses. I have given up trying to explain the difference…I was around for the early days of the web (where getting a browser to work correctly was a major challenge). I always like your listverse posts, by the way.

    • Floorwalker

      Thanks! 🙂

    • MizzHarpy

      So where does gopherspace fit in? I used to email and browse on it. I memorized the commands to type behind the $ prompt to pull up the correct screens. I remember chatting with friends at another university using the finger and talk commands. Does gopherspace still exist?

      • aussieshepherd

        idk. I remember my first college course (1983); I know I’m dating myself. We had to use all the good ~. (can’t remember the actual syntax), but the emailing of assignments was painful. Remember those old user groups? I can’t remember all the details–must have drank/smoked up all the memories. At least the piano lessons are still there! One thing I do remember is emacs…I still prefer vi (I’m kind of sick that way), but back when I first started working, I learned the Unix O/S before anything else and vi was part of the O/S while emacs was not…necessity, they say.

  • This is something every Brit needs to read. I’m so sick and tired of those buffoons claiming they invented the Internet.

    • Fresco Martinez

      Go suck on a fag and eat some fish & chips bitch

      • You make a compelling offer, but I must respectfully decline.

        • rhijulbec


        • Fresco Martinez

          Well you are right fags do cause cancer and fried foods aren’t very good for anyone’s gastric system..touché!

          • That was actually precisely my point. I’m very health-savvy.

      • rhijulbec

        You confuse me Fresco. I’ve seen and been at the receiving end of some pretty shitty posts from you, such as this one. And then you will post something so concise and to the point because its obvious you ”get it”. Why the dichotomy? Why the trolling? You seem to be intelligent and can offer some real insight to discussions, why is it you diminish your intelligence by being so crude? I have my suspicions why. Its too bad, it really is.

        • Fresco Martinez

          It’s a social experiment. You are by far a truly intelligent person. I’ve been very curious about how ppl react to incredibly stupid comments. Being a “troll” isn’t what some many claim it to be. But I’ve really enjoyed all your comments you are one cool cat. I think I’ve learned enough about faceless and useless debauchery.

          • rhijulbec

            Now you see…here’s the problem you have created. I’m tempted to say thanks for saying you think I’m intelligent, but are you being serious or is this another slam from you? If your social experiment was to alienate anyone and everyone by being mean and petty, I’d say you almost succeeded, except you belie that by writing on topic, smart, well thought out posts at times. You see some people who are truly trolls never break character. They are always trolls. But you aren’t always a dick. I personally feel you are better at being intelligent than being mean. Maybe its cause I’m old but I get the sense you may be a bit young or maybe you can’t express what you want to say easily? I don’t know but i really wish you could be the smart person more than the mean person. I see you as being a better person than you show. Sorry don’t mean to criticise, just an observation. And I’m sorry but your actions most of the time is trolling.

  • cire

    this one should be read by many to avoid confusion between the internet and world wide web.

  • Garu Derota

    Tim Berners-Lee is the man that changed the world. Not Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates. Hope some day someone will remember his name

  • Sahara

    It’d be nice if you could have mentioned the deep web too.

  • rhijulbec

    I wish I had a better grasp of this technology. Being in my late fifties I have seen the evolution of the internet and www, but have never really understood the difference. This puts it all in a better light. Thanks…now if someone would explain WiFi so I understand it as well I’d be thankful. I don’t like not understanding the why’s of things.

  • Fresco Martinez

    Empires and franchises come and go but we the ppl will always buy into all that they sell and steal from us. I’ve always believed that technology should be free. Microsoft , apple they steal from each other yet still from us they take the most we allow corporations to enslave us by what’s new and shiny. Tesla dreamed of free energy , Einstein dreamed of true freedom. And I also hold they’re dreams. One day we will finally not give to receive but give to build a better tomorrow.

  • very interesting. keep it up

  • Internet infinite information sea. We are very lucky.