The "Internet" Defined
Firstly, the Internet is more than just the World Wide Web with which we have all become familiar. Its basic components are Email, Usenet, the WWW, Chat, and Mail Lists. Detailed information about the how and why of these components can be found at the Living Internet. An easy to read explanation of what the Internet is (and isn't

The Internet is a robust packet-oriented, fault tolerant network-of-networks connecting millions of host computers, which act as repositories and servers of information, and network routing hubs. Information flows through the Internet in small packets whereby all screen text, graphics, sound and data are disassembled into small units or packets, sent through, then reassembled. The network is designed to be inherently redundant, and if a packet cannot make it via one route, another will automatically be found for it.

A brief glossary of terms used in this project.

ARPA Advanced Research Projects Agency (Source: Zen and the Art of the Internet - Glossary)
"Former name of DARPA, the government agency that funded ARPAnet and later the DARPA Internet."

ARPANET (Source: Zen and the Art of the Internet - Glossary)
"A pioneering long haul network funded by ARPA. It served as the basis for early networking research as well as a central backbone during the development of the Internet. The ARPAnet consisted of individual packet switching computers interconnected by leased lines. The ARPAnet no longer exists as a singular entity."

Gopher (Source: The Jargon File)
"A type of Internet service first floated around 1991 and obsolesced around 1995 by the World Wide Web. Gopher presents a menuing interface to a tree or graph of links; the links can be to documents, runnable programs, or other gopher menus arbitrarily far across the net."

HTML (Source: Kadow's Internet Dictionary)
"Acronym for HyperText Markup Language, the underlying formatting for World-Wide-Web documents."

HTTP (Source: Kadow's Internet Dictionary)
"Acronym for HyperText Transport Protocol the system for requesting HTML documents from the World-Wide-Web."

Internet (Source: The Jargon File)
"The mother of all networks. First incarnated beginning in 1969 as the ARPANET, a U.S. Department of Defense research testbed. Though it has been widely believed that the goal was to develop a network architecture for military command-and-control that could survive disruptions up to and including nuclear war, this is a myth; in fact, ARPANET was conceived from the start as a way to get most economical use out of then-scarce large-computer resources. As originally imagined, ARPANET's major use would have been to support what is now called remote login and more sophisticated forms of distributed computing, but the infant technology of electronic mail quickly grew to dominate actual usage. Universities, research labs and defense contractors early discovered the Internet's potential as a medium of communication between humans and linked up in steadily increasing numbers, connecting together a quirky mix of academics, techies, hippies, SF fans, hackers, and anarchists. The roots of this lexicon lie in those early years."

NSFnet (Source: Zen and the Art of the Internet - Glossary)
"The national backbone network, funded by the National Science Foundation and operated by the Merit Corporation, used to interconnect regional (mid-level) networks such as WestNet to one another."

On the Internet, a portals is a website that provides links to many other Internet destinations. Portals often have a focus on some area of specific interest, and usually organize their links in some useful manner.

Usenet (Source: The Jargon File)
"[from `Users' Network'; the original spelling was USENET, but the mixed-case form is now widely preferred] A distributed bboard (bulletin board) system supported mainly by Unix machines. Originally implemented in 1979-1980 by Steve Bellovin, Jim Ellis, Tom Truscott, and Steve Daniel at Duke University, it has swiftly grown to become international in scope and is now probably the largest decentralized information utility in existence. As of early 1996, it hosts over 10,000 newsgroups and an average of over 500 megabytes (the equivalent of several thousand paper pages) of new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and flamage every day (and that leaves out the graphics...)."

WWW - the World Wide Web (Source: Kadow's Internet Dictionary)
"A distributed hypertext information system that uses HTTP to retrieve text and graphics..."


Glossary Resources

The Jargon File

Kadow's Internet Dictionary

Zen and the Art of the Internet - Glossary