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Book Chapter

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digital information technologies, information technology, Computer Networks


The interconnection of information systems is an extremely important function in today’s personal, consumer, and business world. Many people stay connected with information available on the Internet by using virtual assistant technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa to purchase items online with their Amazon Prime account. Similarly, businesses are motivated to use interconnected devices to conduct daily tasks such as virtual meetings and email communication. In all these cases, computer networks are required to move information from one application operating on a computer to another. Computer networks can be defined as the interconnection of information systems through the use of components designed to communicate using standardized technologies.

Computers interact with networks by using specialized hardware components designed to communicate data in a very consistent way. In fact, today’s modern computer networks are the result of over 100 years of innovations engineered to communicate data. One of the earliest examples of using a network to communicate data from one device to another was the telegraph. Patented in 1840, the telegraph was a communications device used by Samuel Morse to send information to locations across great distances. To do this, the telegraph would connect and release a switch from a sender device that was designed to energize an electromagnet on a receiver device. Once the receiver’s electromagnet was energized, it would pull a marker to one side. The marker would then scratch a line on a paper at the receiver device. Morse then developed an encoding of the marks in the form of dots and dashes that today is known as Morse code. Morse code could be used to fully encode a message generated by energy that people can understand. For instance, the letter a is coded as a dot and a dash.

Since the invention of the telegraph, communication technologies have evolved considerably and eventually motivated the standardization of network architecture. In particular, when computers from different manufacturers in different countries needed to be networked together, the components had difficulty interoperating between the different networking equipment from the various vendors. It, therefore, became necessary to standardize computer networking technology. This problem motivated the standards organizations to develop models that could be adopted by the entire computer networking industry. The computer network industry could now innovate while complying with the standard model. For example, by developing components that offered standard interoperable functionality while consuming less power. We will learn more about these models and standards later in this chapter.

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