How Does the Internet Work? (Part 1: What Your Computer Needs)

You may (or may not) here this all the time. “The internet is a bunch of computers networked together” But what does that mean? How are they “networked” together and how does my computer get from computer to computer. This multipart blog post should help you have a better understanding of how the internet does what it does. Hover over images to find out what they are!

Part 1: What Your Computer Needs

You may know the basics parts of your computer. The monitor (the thing you look at), the computer (the big box sitting on your desk), your speakers, and your printer. You may have heard of this one thing called a router. The router is the rectangular prism with the antenna and blinking lights. Your router is the thing that “talks” to the internet. When you visit a website your router sends a signal to a server (more on servers later) and requests all the information it needs to display the site on your computer. Then it brings all the information back and puts it on your browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) Now a router is necessary to connect to the internet (don’t believe me? unplug it and open a webpage 🙂 )

(Please note: we are working with computers not mobile devices or anything connected through a cell phone signal) but there are two different ways to use it. The first one is called wired and the other one is called wireless. A wired connection is connected through something called an Ethernet cable. This means the device is connected directly to the router. The other (most common) way of connecting is wirelessly. Hence the name Wi-Fi. Wired connections pass the signals between the router and the computer through a cord and wireless connections send them through the air. That’s my spiel on routers. So what else do you need? Well a lot has to do with money. You need an ISP (Internet-Service-Provider) such as Comcast or Verizon. This is a company you pay so you can have the internet. The rest of everything you need is software based. (Software are applications you run on your computer) One type of software in particular is called a browser. A browser is the thing you open to see the internet (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.). Browsers usually come preinstalled on your computer (Macs are usually Safari and PCs are usually Internet Explorer). Without a browser the you can’t view the internet.

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