Business & Finance

Internet 101: How do the Internet, Websites and Email Work, Anyway?

Credits: Bigstock Images

For better or worse, the internet has become the most common way of connecting with one another and sharing information. Almost all of us are plugged in 24/7, whether by computer, tablet, mobile phone, smartwatch, internet-connected cars or devices. But have you ever wondered what the internet is exactly and how it all works?

In its simplest form, the internet is merely a series of devices connected together in order to share information. A device can be a computer, tablet, mobile phone, smartwatch, or “smart” anything for that matter. Being on a network means that your device is either connected by a wire or by a wireless connection to other devices. If your computer is connected to a printer, you are on a network. If your mobile phone is turned on, you’re on a network. If your mobile phone is connected to a Bluetooth headset, then guess what? That’s a network too.

Every single device on a network is assigned a unique numerical address called an IP Address. The Domain Name System was created as sort of a phone book to connect IP addresses to words because words are easier to memorize.

Sign Up for E-News

The World Wide Web (www) network was the result of a research project conducted by English computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 (Sorry, Al Gore!). A web page is a document that can be accessed on the World Wide Web using a program called a web browser. The most popular web browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox. A web page is actually a list of instructions written in a computer language designed to present (or “mark up”) formatted text that can be linked to other content (or “hyper-text”). The language is called hyper-text markup language or simply html. A collection of webpages make up a website. Websites are stored on special computers, called web servers, which “serve” up the websites and pages you call for. All you do is open your web browser and type the address, or Uniform Resource Locator (URL), of the website you are looking for or use a search engine like Google to find a website for you. The request goes to a Domain Name Server (DNS), which then looks up the IP Address of the web server that stores or hosts the website you are looking for. The web server then sends the web pages back to your browser…all in a matter of seconds. Pretty amazing when you think about it!

Now onto email. If you’ve been around for the past 40 years or so, then you probably know that email is used to send electronic messages from one computer or device to another. The first email was sent in 1971 by American computer programmer Raymond Samuel “Ray” Tomlinson. When you send an email, the message first goes to a special computer called a mail server which acts like your local post office. The mail server locates the IP address of the recipient’s mail server and delivers your message there for that person to retrieve.

So when you boil it all down, the internet is just a series of networked devices sending data back and forth to each other, all around the world, in seconds, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It can be a scary place for some and salvation for others. One thing is for sure; we are all connected to each other through it somehow.

Have a tech question? Send your question to or tweet @WebWizSolutions and we’ll try to answer it here.

Rich Suweidan, a.k.a. Webwizard, is a webmaster for the city of New York. He is also the chief principal and webmaster of Webwizard Solutions LLC, designing websites for almost 20 years. Visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

Live and Learn

When I was a senior at Fordham University (1970), the school initiated an experimental program allowing a small number of seniors to teach a professor-assisted accredited pass/fail course. I applied and to my amazement was one of three students selected. The course I taught was titled Philosophy of Education.

The underlying theory of my course was that every educational system has an ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Should Valentine's Day Be Celebrated at School?

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’ve been a third-grade teacher for over 20 years and have never allowed my students to celebrate Valentine’s Day in my class. I know my colleagues think I’m mean, but I’m refusing to celebrate it for many reasons.

1) Children hand out cards to each other and there’s always some child left out or who gets very few; 2) Children are always asked ...

What Next for Sober Houses?

February 7, 2018

To the editor,

As Yogi Berra famously said: “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

As reported in the Jan. 25 edition of Yorktown News, 482 Underhill Ave. is back in the sober house business, this time operating as a “family,” not a convalescent, home. And because it’s operating as a family home, there are no town regulations, standards, guidelines ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22, 7:00 PM

NY Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor

Book Club for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Sat, February 24, 12:00 PM

Club Fit, Jefferson Valley

Yoga for Women with Cancer

Health & Wellness

First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown Receives GreenFaith Certification

February 16, 2018

The First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown has completed the requirements for GreenFaith certification ( GreenFaith is an organization which helps religious communities grow in environmental leadership. GreenFaith certification was a two year process that required a number of accomplishments in the areas of stewardship, education, worship, environmental justice advocacy, and ...