By Paul Thompson


We answer two questions this week from listeners in Brazil. Both want to know about the Internet communications system. Daniela Andressa Arrano asks how the Internet began. Marlene Sol asks how many Americans use the World Wide Web.

The Internet permits the world to communicate. Both Marlene and Daniela sent their questions to American Mosaic using the Internet.

The Internet began more than thirty years ago. It was designed to link computers. Its goal was to increase communication among universities, the government and some major American businesses. The Internet made it easy for them to send large amounts of information quickly.

As time passed, more people began using the Internet. In Nineteen-Eighty-One, the Internet linked two-hundred-thirteen computers. Only nine years later, it linked more than three-hundred-fifty-thousand computers.Today experts say there are about three-hundred-million computers connected to the Internet.

Business leaders began using the Internet as a valuable tool. Companies around the world now use the Internet. Many could not exist without the Internet. A recent report in the American magazine, Newsweek, said more than eighty-nine-million Americans now use the Internet at work.

The Internet has changed the way people work. A newspaper recently told about a young woman who moved from Washington, D-C to the far northern state of Alaska. She continues to work for a company in Washington but does her work in Fairbanks, Alaska using a computer and the Internet.

The World Wide Web is the part of the Internet that lets computer users find written material, pictures and sound. It is the most popular part of the Internet system.

No one really knows how many Americans use the World Wide Web part of the Internet. A good guess would be a number in the hundreds of millions. People use it to play games. They use it for business. And students use computers to search the World Wide Web for information for their schoolwork.

The Internet is becoming more important than anyone had thought possible.And its importance is expected to increase even more in the future.

Voice of America Special English