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The Internet and the World Wide Web Are Not the Same Thing

The Internet, explained!

The World Wide Web turned 25 years old on Wednesday. The Internet, however, is much older.

Wait, what? They are different? Indeed they are. Impress your next date by pointing out the difference between the Internet and the Web with this handy explainer.

The Internet

You can thank the U.S. Department of Defense for this one. In 1958, they founded the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which in turn created the ARPANET in 1969, a network of mainframe computers at major universities. The idea, obviously, caught on.


The Internet is commonly called a “network of networks.” It is the infrastructure that connects networks across the world, including both the hardware (computers, servers, cables and more) and the software.

When you use an app on your phone, send an instant message, transfer a file directly from one computer to another via file transfer protocol (FTP) or simply send an email, you are using the Internet – but not necessarily the Web.

The World Wide Web

The Web is just another avenue for transmitting data over the Internet, in this case by entering a string of characters called a uniform resource locator (URL) into a browser. This URL describes the location of a document written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML), full of the links and silly cat GIFs you know and love.

If you typed to get here, congratulations, you just surfed the World Wide Web.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed the idea on March 12, 1989, making it 25 years old. Need more of an explainer? You might want to consult the very first website, created in 1990, and still up today.

First Website
We have come a long way.