What is the difference between the internet, TCP/IP and the WWW?


I understand all three concepts are inter-connected, but would love to get an ei5 explanation of each and how they’re related. Thank you in advance.

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They aren’t different.

The Internet is the word we use for the overall interconnected network of computers that we use on a day to day basis now for all sorts of things.

TCP/IP is one of the communication protocols used on The Internet. The other is UDP/IP. Without those two, the Internet as we know it today wouldn’t exist. Though it’s probable that someone would have come up with a different protocol to use.

“www” is just a short cut for World Wide Web, which was a term used back in the early days of web sites to describe them. It’s not used as much any more, we just call them web sites.

I’m going to keep this short to be as ELI5 as possible.

Internet is exactly what you think you know if it as. It’s just the global network of interconnected computers that serve up data to your browser or your app or whatever.

TCP is just the concept of individual packets of binary data. They have a specific binary structure which identified the type of the data and then the data itself and the a signature to declare that the message has ended.

IP addresses are the most literal way of identifying a single computer on a network, like the internet.

WWW isn’t really anything. When people used to make sites that were intended to be public, they would often use the subdomain www. That concept is mostly dead, but it’s the same thing technologically as Gmail being on the mail subdomain of Google (so it’s address is mail.google.com), but www doesn’t have anything meaningful, it was just kind of a fashion statement.

EDIT: It’s worth noting that the www subdomain was so ubiquitous that most sites still have to handle it, so any big site like Google will just forward http://www.google.com straight to google.com so that people who assume that the www is important to a URL won’t end up in a missing location.

EDIT: Correction for above: google.com redirects to http://www.google.com, but ironically Google’s own browser, Chrome, always hides www subdomains because they’re meaningless.

Internet – these are the interconnected computer networks (network of networks) that use TCP/IP (primarily) to communicate. Think of this as all the highways and roads and intersections and directions and address that connect all the cities and towns and villages to each person’s home so someone can deliver mail to you

TCP/IP – this is the protocol that data on the Internet communicates over. This tells you HOW to packetize your data, address your data, transmit it, route it, etc. Think of this as the rules that govern how you get a package to someone elsewhere – and these rules go all the way down to how you package it and how it goes from point A to point B.

WWW – this stands for World Wide Web. This uses Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) – like when you type in reddit.com – to tell your browser or app to go to that web address.

This is all very simplified, but essentially the Internet is the collection of hardware/networking technology. The infrastructure, if you will.

TCP/IP is how you actually use the Internet – this is the protocol to communicate on there, so everyone is talking in the same language. When you access a website, it’s translating things into TCP/IP which actually sends the data back and forth over the Internet.

And WWW is built on top of all that, and is one way to access and view websites. It is typically transparent to the user, but TCP/IP is underlying all this (e.g., if you go to reddit.com, you’re actually connecting to an IP address and you’re loading memes from packets of data using the TCP/IP protocol, but that’s all going on in the background)

The internet is the global network of computers. To talk, they need to speak a common language and need to know where to find each other. IP (Internet protocol) is the language they use to talk, and IP addresses are just that, their address to deliver the messages to.

TCP is a way to control that conversation (think about the way you acknowledge when someone says something by going “uh-huh, yeah, OK got it”, that’s kind of what TCP does.)

Finally, when the internet first started becoming popular, a man called Tim Berners-Lee invented a way to allow you to refer to another document in your document in a way that would allow you to easily click on the reference to take you to that other document. He envisaged these documents as forming a web of interconnected documents spread across the world; a world wide web (www).

To keep it as simple as possible: The internet is the network we’ve built that allows us to communicate. TCP/IP is a protocol that dictates **how** we communicate, like smoke signals/morse code. Not only that, but also how we make sure messages are transferred over the network and arrive to the correct person. The World Wide Web is a system of locating internet reources via URLs and hyperlinks. It’s what you and I are using now through browsers as opposed to, say, a peer-to-peer that directly uses a computer’s address.