A computer network is a group of computer systems and other computing hardware devices that are linked together through communication channels to facilitate communication and resource-sharing among a wide range of users. Networks are commonly categorized based on their characteristics.
One of the earliest examples of a computer network was a network of communicating computers that functioned as part of the U.S. military's Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) radar system. In 1969, the University of California at Los Angeles, the Stanford Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Utah were connected as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) project. It is this network that evolved to become what we now call the Internet.
Networks are used to:
- Facilitate communication via email, video conferencing, instant messaging, etc.
- Enable multiple users to share a single hardware device like a printer or scanner.
- Enable file sharing across the network.
- Allow for the sharing of software or operating programs on remote systems.
- Make information easier to access and maintain among network users.
There are many types of networks, including:
- Local Area Networks (LAN)
- Personal Area Networks (PAN)
- Home Area Networks (HAN)
- Wide Area Networks (WAN)
- Campus Networks
- Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN)
- Enterprise Private Networks
- Backbone Networks (BBN)
- Global Area Networks (GAN)
- The Internet
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