Jeremy Smith's blog

Entry Is Labelled

Is There More Than One "Internet?"

The Internet entry on Wikipedia (specifically, this revision in case it changes) states (emphasis mine):

The Internet is a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet Protocol

"A"… really? It's not "the" as in:

The Internet is the worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks…

Is there another "worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks?" If so, I would like to know about it. Just curious.


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    The reason why I have never capitalized 'internet' is that I have always thought of it as 'a' series of interconnected computer networks, and not 'the' series of interconnected computer networks.

    I know it's popular. It it may be the only one left of its kind. But it wasn't always so.

    When I worked with Texas Instruments in 1980, I worked on a system called RJE - remote job entry. We would read in computer data in punch cards in Calgary and send it to Austin or elsewhere for processing.

    I also worked on the IBM MVS-JES3 systems - and got kicked off them (permanently, as it turned out) for playing chess with people in Dallas and Perth.

    A few years later, I set up my own bulletin board system, a Maximus BBS I called Athabaska BBS. It was connected to a world-wide messaging network called FidoNet. Basically, messages would hope from one BBS to the next, hopefully avoiding long distance charges, from one system to the next.

    Other networks certainly exist. The ATM (Automatic Tellers) network is certainly not the internet - banks use a completely separate network for financial transactions. Probably wisely. The military and the CIA probably also use their own networks.

    And, now that I think of it, even the internet has a double - in the U.S. it's called Internet 2, a high-speed version of the original, slower, internet.

    So the internet is 'a' network of connected networks. But it is by no means 'the' only one.