What Is a Computer Network?

Computer networks are used to share information. With a network, you can open a document from a computer in the next room or view a Web page from another continent. You can grab movie clips or music from remote sites and play them on your computer. You can even participate in real-time discussions, multi-user games, or conferences. Web applications and some practice, using a computer network isn’t much more complicated than using a telephone.

How Computer Network Begun

    • Computer networking as it is today didn’t just drop from the sky, fully configured and ready to run. In fact, it all started out rather messy.
    • Computer networks came about as an afterthought. Mainframes, which are large, multi-user computers, were the computers used by corporations. The first computers for home use were Apple Computers and IBM-compatible PC’s designed for personal use.

Companies that created these computers were slow to create products to connect their computers together on a network, so the U.S. government came up with the solution that would allow internetworking of the different kinds of networks

Pieces of a Network

  • NETWORK MEDIA. Evey network requires some physical medium for transporting information from one point to another. Those media often consist of cables, though they also can be airwaves that carry satellite or other wireless transmissions.
    Modems are used to communicate greater distances over telephone lines or over direct cabling to connect to Wide Area Networks. To pass data between multiple networks, special pieces of equipment called routers are used.
    NIC is the access point from your computer to the LAN; it handles sending and receiving data and provides a place to plug in the network cable. A hub provides a central location for connecting together a group of computers on a LAN. A switch provides a means of connecting together multiple hubs and/or individual computers in a way that allows the network to still perform efficiency.
  • NETWORK PROTOCOLS. Network know how to transmit data, manage the flow of information, and find destination computers that could be thousands of miles away. That networks use what we called protocols.
    Protocols are sets of rules for managing data. They define when each side of a communication can send and receive data and how errors are dealt with. Protocols must also understand addresses, so they know whether to give the data they receive to an application program or to pass it on to the next destination on the network.
  • NETWORK APPLICATIONS work by requesting a service from another computer on the network. The application that requests a service is referred to as a client. The program on the other computer that receives the request is referred to as a server.


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