Internet Business 

The World Wide Web is a system that makes exchange of data on the Internet easy and efficient. It consists of two basic components :
  1. The Web Server : a computer and software  ("server" can refer to either) that stores and distributes data to other computers throughout the Internet that request the information.
  2. The Web Browser : software running on an individual's ("client") computer that request information from the Web server and displays it in a manner of directed in the data file itself.

To use the Web, an individual needs a computer with Web browser software and a modem installed. After the Web browser is launched (started), the computer is directed to dial an Internet service provider (with which an account has been arranged). The browser is then given the address of a Web "site" where a Web server will respond by  sending a "page" of information. This "page" may have text of various sizes and styles, with pictures and other graphics intermixed. Certain pictures and text will have special highlights or underlines. These special highlights indicate that further information is available. All the individual needs to do is to move the mouse indicator over the highlighted item and click, and the remote Web server will respond with the appropriate information.

More than text and picture can be offered

  • Movies and animation
  • Moving graphics
  • Sound files and real-time sound
  • Database and catalogs
  • Programs that run directly on your computer
  • Opportunities to send information to the owner of the Web site.

The World Wide Web is perhaps the most influential vehicle of information distribution since the invention of the television. The recent boom in the number of Web sites on the Internet attest to this fact. As more and more people gain access to the Web through online services or directly by way of a local Internet Service Provider (ISP), many organizations will focus more on using the Web to keep their customers informed of new products, carry out business transactions, and provide customer service.


Until the early 1980s, what is now called the Internet was a relatively small network called ARPAnet. This small network was mainly used as a research tool for about 15 years. After the Internet was created many universities and government organizations got connected to it to exchange and distribute information. Although at first the Internet was used exclusively for educational purposes, commercial organizations realized the potential of the Internet and connected to it, as well.

The Web was created to address information distribution problems on the Internet. Until the creation of the Web, almost all information distribution was accomplished through email, FTP, Archie, and Gopher. Email (electronic mail) became widely used for exchanging information between various groups of people as well as individuals. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) was used to transfer files from one computer to another. Archie was used to locate various files on the Internet. Due to its very nature, before long information was scattered all over the Internet. Therefore, unless you knew where information you needed was located, you had no way of searching for it. This became a major problem when someone had to navigate the Internet in search of information. Because a well organized information infrastructure was missing, the Internet could not be used to its full potential

As a solution to this problem, Gopher was invented at the University of Michigan. Gopher is a database of information that is organized by using a hierarchical menu interface. Gopher was designed to narrow a user's search from general information to very specific information by offering the user selections of topics from various layers of menus. To extend the amount of information that can be provided, Gopher proved to be a more efficient way of locating and distributing information, its capabilities were limited. Mainly, information distributed by way of Gopher was virtually limited to plain text, and access to information at various locations was not very well organized. Furthermore, Internet information technologies that wee being used around that time were plugged with limitations, such as the following :
  • Platform dependence
  • Lack of standards
  • Incapability  of richly formatting content
  • Limited virtually to plain text
  • Cryptic user interface
  • Lack of security
  • Familiarity with UNIX often required
  • Incapability of being extended to accommodate new technologies

Due to  these and other limitations, a new platform independent method had to be invented to distribute information on the Internet. This issue was addressed at the European Particle Physics Laboratory CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) in Geneva, switzerland, when Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) was created. HTML was derived from a document formatting language called Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). HTML was designed to be a document markup language that's easy to learn, use, and transmit over the Internet. HTML is simpler to use and easier to learn than  SGML. To transmit HTML documents on the Internet, a TCP/IP  (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) based protocol was invented. This protocol became known as Hyper Text Transport Protocol (HTTP). The World Wide Web was born with the creation of HTTP and HTML. The Web addresses many of the limitations listed earlier by providing content providers with a powerful medium to distribute information. Web servers speak HTTP to transmit HTML files, and Web browsers use HTTP to retrieve HTML files. Web browsers display various objects, both static and interactive (such as text, images, and java applets), upon retrieving them from Web servers.

With the unification of text, graphics, video, sound, and interactive applications, the World Wide Web has become an exciting medium of information interchange compared to Gopher. Thanks to the World Wide Web, someone looking for information is finally able to browse various information sources and easily travel from one source to another by following various hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are objects that refer to Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) of Web pages. When a user clicks on a hyperlink, he or she is transferred to the Web page to which the hyperlink is linked. URLs can be thought of as  addresses of Web pages. Every Web page has one or more URLs associated with it. With the help of special applications and browsers, the World Wide Web has quickly become a  vehicle for text and multimedia distribution on the Internet. The World Wide Web gained much of its popularity after Mosaic (Web browser) was released in 1993 by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

References : 
Jill H. Ellsworth & Matthew V. Ellsworth, Marketing on the Internet, Second Edition, 1997 
Sanjaya Hettihewa, Windows NT 4, Web Development, Sams net, Indianapolis, First Edition, 1996  

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