The Internet = The Internet began in this country in the 1960's as a network of Defense Department computers. The government felt that it might be wise to distribute their so-called "Command and Control" computers over a wide area so that a single Soviet missile couldn't knock out their whole communications network. The universities doing Defense Department research soon joined this network. Then, more and more computers around the world hooked up to the network to exchange files, programs, and especially e-mail (electronic mail). A small number of companies, such as Cerfnet and Netcom were formed to provide access to the Internet for businesses and then for private individuals. About 7 or 8 years ago, companies like Delphi and Prodigy began providing access to the Internet, and then the bigger online companies like America Online and CompuServe joined the fray. Now everybody is jumping onto the bandwagon, creating their own web sites and making it possible to buy merchandise, do banking, and even make "free" long distance telephone calls on the Internet.

Who owns the Internet? Who runs the Internet?

Nobody and everybody. The beauty of the Internet is that, like the wild, wild West, everything is still wide open; there are very few regulations yet, because everything is so new. The long answer to the first question is that most of the computers on the Internet were, first, funded by taxpayer dollars, then through federal grants to the universities; but, of course, contributions to those universities from private individuals, charities, etc., also paid for those computers. The telecommunications network is funded privately, i.e., by people and businesses paying their phone bills. Now, private individuals and companies are paying for the computers and their upkeep and maintenance, partly because they like computers and new things, and partly for financial reasons.

Regarding the second question, most of the programming and maintenance work is performed by thousands of intelligent people who see the tremendous potential in the Internet to bring us all together, inform and enrich our lives, and so on.