Introduction to the Internet

Revised 9/5/95

A Brief Introduction

The Internet is a lot of things. It's cool, it's all the rage. The media is selling it in a sexy way. It is a new and exciting way to connect with friends in IRC. A wonderful source of daily information with USENET news group. Every major software company has a site on the "net" that anyone with access can do an anonymous FTP. There are Gopher Holes galore to rummage through for general information or do a specific search. If you have a GUI (Graphical User Interface) based system you can surf the World Wide Web using a Web Client Browser.

If the Internet is new to you, the terminology may be strange to you. As you use the Internet on a regular basis, you will be familiar with all the described actions. The Internet is creating a totally new way for the world to communicate and access information in a quick fashion. Unless you have been asleep for the past several years or living in the biosphere, it is harder and harder each day to avoid some media reference to the Internet. For a good portion of the world, it is becoming today's fad gadget. For students and academics, it is a powerful resource.

You will have to become familiar with the Internet in one form or another. As a student, very soon, it will be impossible to avoid. In the business world it will become an increasingly large tool in staying competitive. Rather than boring you with examples, you should experience it yourself. That way is the only true way to understand how significant the Internet could become.

The Internet is only in it's infancy, but the chances are that the concept and operation of it is twice as old as you. The Internet is approximately 40 years old. The Internet was born out of modern woes and problems. It was a conception of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) to aid in a time of nuclear crisis. The concept was to have a communications network that would not be interrupted in a nuclear strike (thankfully the idea has never been put to the test). It was decided that a loosely configured global computer network would operate sufficiently. If one node of the network was hit it would not totally disable the network. Communication could still be maintained with the untouched node. The Soviet Union (the bad guys of the day) would have to annihilate the majority of the world to cut off our communications network.

Universities were included on to the Internet, Businesses also were able to get on. Being that it was not such a huge sensation as it is now, it was relatively unknown to the lay people of the world. In the early 1980's the Military eventually pulled out there high security interests from the Internet. This was a measure to insure better security.

In the early 1990's, GUI technology allowed a massive explosion of personal computer users to occur. You just had to point and click to do most things with a computer. You did not have to memorize a slew of commands to get anything done. Modems allowed the ability to connect from home to massive computer networks who provided information and entertainment services. More and more people began to learn about the information available on the "net". The World Wide Web also has helped increase the popularity of the Internet.

For our purposes though, the Internet is a valuable research and informational tool. As we go along, you will get a taste of the tools that are available for you to utilize the "net" to it's fullest potential. It can be a very powerful tool to obtain your goals.

How to get on the Internet

Obviously to get on to the Internet, a computer is necessary. On campus you can either get on to the Internet on your VAX account or one of the personal computers in the PC Labs. If you have your own VAX account you are a little better off on the access aspect of the Internet. Since you can access a VAX account at home, you have a link to the "net" from anywhere that you can connect your computer (provided of course you can foot the long distance bill). The downside of VAX is that you do not have GUI capability on the "Web". You have that in the PC Labs.

Once you are logged on to those systems, you have access to the Internet.

Internet Addresses

Most of the readers of this document will have an internet address that they can receive electronic mail (e-mail) at. The e-mail address may look like this:

The address tells you who the person is and what their domain is. Using the first example we can examine the entire address. the portion "ea8qc" is the user ID for the addresser. The rest of the line after the "@" is called the domain. A good analogy of this is a persons street address (ea8qc) and the city and state (

Internet Features

There are several basic features of the Internet. They are all called Clients. The clients are software that is ran by your service provider. These applications allow specific functions to work across the Internet. Unless you are using a GUI, they almost seem like a command line in the operating system. If you do use a GUI, it is more of the appearance of a Windows type application (which it is).

Introduction to FTP

One of the greatest tools that you could have on the Internet is FTP. FTP stands for file transfer protocol. What you use FTP for is the transmission of files between two computers. With a few basic commands, you can transfer both text and binary files from two different systems linked on the Internet.

FTP is client software that helps to transfer files from a host computer to a remote computer within the Internet. For example, if you work with a PC in NSB A135, type ftp at the DOS prompt to initiate the software. The client software now will prompt you to input a host's address. For example, you would type in "". Once you have performed this, you now will be prompted for a user ID. In this instance we are going in to our own account. You would enter "USERID". You then are prompted for your password. You would type in "PASSWORD" At this point you now have full access to your own directory. You have the ability to transfer files to and from your account.

The most useful feature of FTP is the ability to log in to "Anonymous FTP Sites". To do this you basically must know the domain that you wish to access. If you know the domain, you may even know what you are looking for. I won't get in to the possibilities, but they are plentiful. To perform an anonymous FTP, you just type in information as in a regular FTP session. Using Microsoft as an example, you would follow this procedure. At the prompt(be it DOS, UNIX or VMS) type in "ftp" ( the true domain being, most anonymous FTP sites have "ftp." before the regular domain name). This will bring you to Microsoft's anonymous FTP site. When you are asked for your user ID, you do not have to provide it. Instead you type in "anonymous" (hence the title anonymous FTP). You now will be prompted for your password. Most sites will ask for your full address. type in the information. You now have access to whatever files that system has left unprotected. If the files are not protected you may copy them.

Basic FTP Commands

Here are some basic FTP commands to get you going. You can get more while in FTP by typing in "?" at the FTP prompt (yes even FTP has it's own prompt, FTP>). For future information you can read the Anonymous FTP FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) list. This FAQ and other useful postings can be found in the USENET newsgroup "news.announce.newusers".

Remember that commands are case sensitive. They should all be typed in lower case lettering

ftp: Typing in ftp will start the FTP client software that is resident in the system you are using. Once it is initiated, you will have a prompt of "FTP>".

open: If you typed in only FTP prior to having the client running, you will need to use the open command. The open command tells the client which site you wish to access. Proper usage is "open [domain name]". Remember you need to know the site's domain to access it.

user: If you made an error in logging in and are not asked again for the information, the user command will allow you to attempt to log on again. You can either type your user name in with the command (e.g. user anonymous) or you could enter the command alone. In that instance you will be prompted for your user name.

binary: When you are transferring a binary file, you must type this command so the client knows how to transfer the data.

ascii: You type in this command when you are going to be transferring text files. You do this for the same reason as you do with binary files.

hash: When you use this command, you will see a display during data transfers. For every 1024 bytes of data transferred, a"#" character is printed on the screen. This is useful when transferring large files. It is a vote of confidence that your transfer is actually working.

get: The get command lets you transfer a file from the host system. Usage is "get [filename]". Wildcards are permited.

send: The send command allows you to transfer a file from your remote system to a host system. Usage is "send [filename]". Wildcards are permitted.

These are the basic commands that will allow you to traverse through host directories. You will be able to send and receive files throughout the Internet.

Introduction to TELNET

Telnet is client program that is used to perform remote logins to host systems. When you perform a Telnet login, you are essentially logging in to a system through another system. You will have full access to the account that you log in to. It is the internet version of home communications software (for a brief discussion of home communications software see KERMIT).

To use Telnet you just have to type in "Telnet" at the operating system prompt. Your prompt will then change to "TELNET>". You also may type in the TELNET command with the domain you wish to Telnet in to. As an example you could type in "Telnet". This will then bring you to the standard login point of the system you are accessing.

If you just type in TELNET, you then need to use the connect command. The proper usage at the "TELNET>" prompt would be " connect". This then would bring you to the system that you wish to connect to.

Introduction to Gopher

Gopher is a menu based information service. Different universities and organizations maintain what are called Gopher Holes. Gopher is a powerful resource that helps reduce information searches. To access the CUNY home gopher. all you have to do is type in the word "gopher" at your command line prompt.

If you wished to go to a particular gopher, you would need to add the gopher address (yes, like all other things on the net, gopher has their own addresses) to the gopher command.

Gopher has a very good search mechanism for searching out "gopher space". The Veronica feature of gopher helps to search and find topics of interest in gopher space. To access Veronica, you have to go to the CUNY home gopher. When you are at the home gopher, select item 10 "other gophers". When you are at the next menu level, select item 4 "Veronica". You will be prompted for a string for Veronica to search for. Type in your topic and Veronica will search gopher space for you and return a results menu with your information.

Introduction to Archie

Archie is a file searching mechanism that can be used on the Internet. You would use Archie to search for files that you could access using an anonymous FTP. To use Archie you would type in "archie [string]" where string is the file name you are searching for. The Archie client that is resident in the system you are using will search archie space for you.

The result of an Archie search is a scrolling of locations and directories. If the output is long you may miss quite a bit of the information that is being fed to you. To stop this from happening you can have the Archie output go to a file. To do that you must specify an archie search like this: archie -O [outputfile.ext] [string]. The -O tells archie to send the result to a file. The outputfile.exe is a filename provided by you, and the string is what you are searching for.

Archie searches may prove to be one very productive tool. You may be using it quite a bit if you are looking for specific text files. As you become more involved in the Internet, you will find yourself using it more and more.

Introduction to Mail

To use mail, you need to have an account. You will not be able to use this client if you are just going on the computers in the PC Labs. You will need an account on VAX to access mail.

When you log on to your account, if there is mail for you there would have a message telling you that there is mail waiting for you. To access the mail client, you would just type in mail at the prompt. The prompt will change and read "MAIL>". To send a message you would have to type in the command "send". Send will prompt you for who you wish to send mail to. You would input the address and hit return. Mail will then ask you for the subject of your letter. You can input the subject or leave it blank. You then will be issued which keys you must enter to send or cancel your message. There will be an editor area for you to type in your letter. Be sure to enter at the end of each line, or the client will cut you off after a certain point.

To read messages all you have to do is hit the enter key. Any messages that are stored, you can read in succession. To delete a message, just hit d while you are at the end or any point of the message. It will be deleted.

You can get all the full details about the mail system by entering "type/page qc:email.faq" at the command prompt. You can copy the file to your disk by typing in "copy qc:email.faq" at the prompt.

Introduction to LYNX

LYNX is a text based World Wide Web browser client. The World Wide Web is a new branch of the Internet chock full of HTML documents. An HTML document is one like this document. It is full of Hypertext Links. People create what is called home pages. The home page is the first page you see when you are accessing document s on the World Wide Web.

Most home pages have graphic links that will display on the screen of a graphic based browser. LYNX is text based, so you will not be able to see graphics with it. You still will be able to use the hypertext links that are involved with the "web".

To access LYNX you just have to type "lynx" on the command line. This will run LYNX and bring you automatically to the University of Kansas home page. The U of K is where LYNX was designed. While you are there, check out the instructions for using it.

If you already have a URL (Universal Resource Locator, the name that is given for the HTML document addresses), all you need to do is type "g" for go. You will be prompted for the URL. Type it in and poof, you are now "surfing the web". As you play with it more and more, you will start to find varied places of interest.

Introduction to IRC

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. The IRC client is software that allows users to participate in real time on line discussions. Rather than discuss the different things that you have to do in IRC, I want to refer you to the IRC FAQ. You can either get a copy from the USENET newsgroup "comp.answers" that is posted monthly or you can get a copy using anonymous FTP to in the directory pub/usenet-by-groups/alt.irc.

Introduction to USENET

USENET newsgroups can range from being one of the most informative things on the Internet to being totally ridiculous. There are totally serious and educational newsgroups. There are also newsgroups whose sole reason for creation was for users to totally cut loose and act insane and zany. Not all internet service providers give the full amount of newsgroups. The CUNY newsfeed provides a limited amount of newsgroups. That does not mean they will not try to get one for you if you know of it and they do not have it.

To view the newsgroups, you need to type in "fnews" at the command prompt. This will activate the FNEWS newsreader client. Fnews may come up with several usenet newsgroups already marked as subscribed to for you.

Most of your movement through FNEWS can be controlled by the arrow keys on your keyboard. Starting from the main screen that you see when you log in, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move up and down a list. If you use the left arrow key, you will wind up in the hierarchy listings of newsgroups. If you use the right arrow key, you will enter the newsgroup that is highlighted. A listing of postings will be shown. Use the right arrow again and you will read the highlighted posting. You can use the left arrow key to get back to the postings. From that point you can use the left arrow again to exit the newsgroup and return to the main subscription screen.

You can search for a newsgroup to add to your subscription main screen. At the FNEWS prompt, you can type in search. You then will be prompted to enter a string for the client to search for. If the string is found, you will be asked if that is the newsgroup you are looking for. Follow the directions the program will give you.

While reading a posting in a particular group, you may wish to respond to that particular post. To do that you would type in the command "follow". The VAX editor will come up and you can type in a response. Use the editor as you normally would. After you finish exiting the editor, you now will be given options on how to post your follow up. Follow the directions and you will get the job done.

In the instance that you would want to post to a newsgroup, you must enter that newsgroup using the right arrow key on your keyboard. When you are in that newsgroup, enter the command "post".

If you are interested in computers, you may want to check out the comp hierarchy of newsgroups. For CS95 and CS101 students, you may be interested in the Pascal newsgroups (there are four different ones). They will be very helpful in many instances.

For more detailed information you can obtain the FNEWS user manual on VAX. To see the user manual on your screen you need to enter the command "type/page d5:[fnews]userman.txt". To print out a copy, you need to enter the command "printi2 d5:[fnews]userman.txt. You also can get a copy of the file by entering the command "copy d5:[fnews]userman.txt *.*". The manual will give you a much deeper understanding of using USENET and the FNEWS news client.

Further References

A good recommendation for getting information on the Internet is a book that you can obtain for free on the Internet.

The title of the book is:

Zen and the art of the Internet
Written by Brendan P Kehoe

This book will give you a much deeper understanding about the concept of the internet. Also you will be able to obtain much deeper information about most of the topics we have discussed here. To get the book you can do a veronica search on Gopher. The file is approximately 200 kilobytes large and prints out to about 100 pages. It is worthwhile to have as a reference.

Another helpful reference is the guide published by the ACC. It is available in the book store for about one dollar.

the title of the publication is:

The Users Guide to

This is a quick reference guide. It is worthwhile to have it if you are going to be using the mainframe facilities to any great extent. Both of the mentioned publications are recomended as must have items.

Pascal USENET Newsgroups
Addendum for CS95 and CS101 Students

USENET has several groups dedicated to the Pascal programming language. Until the summer of 1995, there was only one group. It was called comp.lang.pascal. With the wide differences in Pascal from one implementation to another, many of the subscribers to this group felt put upon. They wanted to reorganize the group.

For several months the readers organized a split in to several specialized Pascal groups. Each group is designed for a particular variant of the language.

There is now the following Pascal USENET newsgroups.

The first group,comp.lang.pascal.borland deals with the implementations of Pascal produced by the Borland Corporation. The most popular of them being Turbo Pascal. There also is Borland Pascal. You will see mention of the Rapid Application Development tool Delphi also.

Dealing with the Pascal standard implementation is the groupcomp.lang.pascal.ansi-iso. This group is a discussion of the standard for Pascal set forth by ANSI-ISO. ISO is an international standards organization and ANSI is based inthe United States.

Macintosh users have their own Pascal group. As you might have guesed that group is comp.lang.pascal.macintosh.

For all general Pascal discussions, there is the group comp.lang.pascal.misc.

This document was written by Ilana Giesenberg, Louis Bianchi and Dr. Bon K. Sy. We owe many thanks to the feedback provided by Bert and the students of CS101. More specific details about this document are available.

Please send suggestions and further details to:

Dr. Bon K. Sy
Queens College/CUNY
Department of Computer Science
Flushing, NY 11367
Voice: (718)-997-3500 x-3477
Fax: (718)-997-3513

Revision History:
9/5/95 Added USENET Pascal addendum with link from USENET description.

©Copyright 1995 - 2000