The Internet is made up of hundreds of connected computers and machines. To get all of these machines straight, there is the Internet Protocol (IP) Address.
Every computer has a unique IP Address. This is a 32-bit number that identifies the sender and receiver of each packet of information. All data in the Internet is broken up into small, uniform bits, called packets before it is sent from one computer to another. We will touch upon packets in the next section. An IP Address is made out of four numbers between 0 and 255, separated by periods: 188.8.131.52
IP Addresses are used whenever you use e-mail, whenever you connect to the World Wide Web, whenever you communicate to someone else on a different computer.
Some computers have permanent IP Addresses, while others do not. For example, computers that are permanently connected to the Internet, like servers (i.e. Yahoo, Geocities, etc.) usually have permanent IP Addresses- that is, they are given one, and only one IP Address. On the other hand, some computers (usually home computers connecting to the Internet via a modem or server) can have different IP Addresses for every time that they log in. You might get one IP Address when you connect to the Internet one day, and then a different address the next day!
When you want to communicate with another computer- whether through e-mail,
chat, or just retrieving data, your computer first looks up the IP Address
of the other computer. Then, it puts the other computer's IP Address on the
header of the packet, and then the packet is sent to a router.
Routers, which we will discuss in detail in a later section, are computers
that are specially designed to perform the task of transferring data packets
through a network. After the packet is sent to the router, the router will
then use the specified IP Address and ship the packet to the designated computer.
1995-2001, ThinkQuest Inc.all rights reserved