Browse Prior Art Database

What is the Internet, Anyway? (RFC1935) Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004240D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-12
Document File: 11 page(s) / 18K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

J. Quarterman: AUTHOR [+1]

Related Documents

10.17487/RFC1935: DOI


This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 11% of the total text.

Network Working Group J. Quarterman Request For Comments: 1935 S. Carl-Mitchell Category: Informational TIC April 1996

What is the Internet, Anyway?

Status of This Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright (c) 1994 TIC

From Matrix News, 4(8), August 1994 Permission is hereby granted for redistribution of this article provided that it is redistributed in its entirety, including the copyright notice and this notice. Contact:, +1-512-451-7602, fax: +1-512-452-0127., gopher:// A shorter version of this article appeared in MicroTimes.


We often mention the Internet, and in the press you read about the Internet as the prototype of the Information Highway; as a research tool; as open for business; as not ready for prime time; as a place your children might communicate with (pick one) a. strangers, b. teachers, c. pornographers, d. other children, e. their parents; as bigger than Poland; as smaller than Chicago; as a place to surf; as the biggest hype since Woodstock; as a competitive business tool; as the newest thing since sliced bread.

A recent New York Times article quoting one of us as to the current size of the Internet has particularly stirred up quite a ruckus. The exact figures attributed to John in the article are not the ones we recommended for such use, but the main point of contention is whether the Internet is, as the gist of the article said, smaller than many other estimates have said. Clearly lots of people really want to believe that the Internet is very large. Succeeding discussion has shown that some want to believe that so much that they want to count computers and people that are probably *going to be* connected some time in the future, even if they are not actually connected now. We prefer to talk about who is actually on the Internet and on other networks now. We’ll get back to the sizes of the various networks later, but for now let’s discuss a more basic issue that is at the

Quarterman & Carl-Mitchell Informational [Page 1]

RFC 1935 What is the Internet, Anyway? April 1996

heart of much confusion and contention about sizes: what is the Internet, anyway?

Starting at the Center

For real confusion, start trying to get agreement on what is part of the Internet: NSFNET? CIX? Your company’s internal network? Prodigy? FidoNet? The mainframe in accounting? Some people would include all of the above, and perhaps even consider excluding anything politically incorrect. Others have cast doubts on each of the above.

Let’s start some place almost everyone would agree is on the Internet. Take RIPE, for example. The acronym stands for European IP Networks. RIPE is a coordinating group for IP networking in Europe. (IP is the Internet protocol, which is the basis of the Internet. IP has a suite of associated protocols, including the Tr...