March 12, 2014 at 2:01 PM ET
The World Wide Web turned 25 years old on Wednesday. The Internet, however, is much older.
Wait, what? They are different? Indeed they are. Impress your next date by pointing out the difference between the Internet and the Web with this handy explainer.
You can thank the U.S. Department of Defense for this one. In 1958, they founded the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which in turn created the ARPANET in 1969, a network of mainframe computers at major universities. The idea, obviously, caught on.
The Internet is commonly called a “network of networks.” It is the infrastructure that connects networks across the world, including both the hardware (computers, servers, cables and more) and the software.
When you use an app on your phone, send an instant message, transfer a file directly from one computer to another via file transfer protocol (FTP) or simply send an email, you are using the Internet – but not necessarily the Web.
The World Wide Web
The Web is just another avenue for transmitting data over the Internet, in this case by entering a string of characters called a uniform resource locator (URL) into a browser. This URL describes the location of a document written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML), full of the links and silly cat GIFs you know and love.
If you typed NBCNews.com to get here, congratulations, you just surfed the World Wide Web.