Under the Hood of the World Wide Web

An essay by Alan Silverstein, ajs@frii.com (ending in 2002 was: ajs@fc.hp.com)
Last update: Oct 15, 1999; and later, Feb 9, 2020

Resuscitated this essay for historical interest:


Overall Concept

Driving a web browser or other computer application is as easy as driving a car -- or at least it should be. "You don't have to know how the computer works, just how to work the computer." This presentation is a quick peek "under the hood", one level deeper, to give you some idea what's going on behind the scenes.

The story of web browsers and web sites builds up from many different parts to a grand finale. Here are the parts...

Client/Server Concepts

Internet (TCP/IP) Concepts

Hardware addresses:


IP addresses:

Hostnames and routes:

Port Numbers


Domain Names


Mark-Up Languages

Viewing and editing:


What's a URL?

Bitmapped Graphics

Putting It All Together

Going Even Further

Whew! Happy Web surfing!