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Internet or World Wide Web: What's the Difference?

The World Wide Web is turning 25 this week. Here's how it started, and why it's often confused with the internet. (Yes, the internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing.)

By
Eric Escobar,
August 25, 2016
Episode #234

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Internet Versus World Wide Web

What is the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web? The internet is much older than the World Wide Web. The internet is a group of networks, which use a special way of talking to each other called TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). In other words, the internet is a bunch of computers all talking the same language all so that they can communicate with one another.

The internet was commissioned by the United States government in the 1960’s as a way to build a network that was resistant to outages of any one specific piece. During the early years, the internet was mostly just for universities and for the military. Then more private funding made more and more networks possible and, from there, networks were connected to other networks, and the internet started to grow and take shape. To put it in other simple terms, Dictionary.com defines the internet as, "The global communication network that allows almost all computers worldwide to connect and exchange information."

See Also: How Does the Internet Work?

The World Wide Web is a collection of web pages linked together with hypertext links. These are the very same links that you click on when browsing the internet (i.e., clicking on gifs and Buzzfeed lists). Think of it this way: the internet are the highways of the digital world, and the World Wide Web are the cars on the road. You use the internet to access web pages—just like you use a car on the highway to get from place to place.

Furthermore, there are other protocols and services on the internet that do not require the world wide web. For example there are chat clients, file sharing services, phone services, and other communications happening on the internet, which are totally unrelated to the "cars" (the public web you use to browse). You can think of those other services as trucks, buses, and other types of transportation that also use the highway.

The Origins of the World Wide Web

So now that you know what the difference between the World Wide Web, the WWW that you type into your browser to access websites and the internet, let's talk more about the public web's origins.

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