Do Computers Talk to Each Other on the Internet?

Did you know computers talk to each other through their own, unique language?  And that language is called TCP/IP.  TCP/IP is a set of communications protocols that allow computers to communicate on the Internet.  The language get its name based on the two most important protocols – the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).  These two protocols specify how devices connect to the Internet and how data transmits between those devices.  In simpler terms, it’s how all of those emails you send everyday reach the person on the other end.

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn both agreed with each other that computers needed to talk to each other, communicate in some way, but how?  They set out on an expedition to figure out how they could make it all work, and it just so happens they ended up developing it while under contract for the U.S. Department of Defense.  Not a bad resource/contract to have, right?  Their TCP/IP has become the standard way that local and wide networks communicate, allowing computers to connect to one another and applications to send data back and forth.  TCP/IP has four different abstraction layers within it, and each one of those layers has its own set of protocols.  The layers within TCP/IP include:

  • Link Layer: the lowest layer in the TCP/IP stack.  It’s a group of methods that operate on a host’s link, commonly Ethernet.  Includes the Frame Header, Frame Data, and Frame Footer.
  • Internet Layer (IP): the layer that connects local networks to one another.  Includes the IP Header and IP Data.
  • Transport Layer (TCP): the layer that controls host-to-host communication.  Includes the UDP Header and the UDP Data.
  • Application Layer: the set of protocols that specify data communications on a process-to-process level.  A good example is HTTP, which is an application protocol that is the foundation of the World Wide Web.  Includes the data.


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This is a very basic explanation of how the computers send data and communicate with each other over the Internet.  TCP is what applications use to communicate with one another within a network.  A good example of this is that web browsers talk to the network software using TCP. IP is the communication that takes place between individual computers.  The IP sends packets between computers and also routes packets to the right destination.  A packet is a unit of data that is routed between an origin and a destination on the Internet or any other packet-switched network.  TCP’s breaks down the data communicated between applications into packets so that they can be sent over IP to another computer.  TCP also reassembles those packets once they are delivered by the IP.  Pretty slick, right? Right!  So after all of that tech mumbo-jumbo, here’s a little tech/internet humor to lighten things up.  And don’t worry, it took me a few minutes to get it too…Enjoy!

“Hi, I’d like to hear a TCP joke.”

Hello, would you like to hear a TCP joke?”

“Yes, I’d like to hear a TCP joke.”

“OK, I’ll tell you a TCP joke.”

“OK, I will hear a TCP joke.”

“Are you ready to hear a TCP joke?”

“Yes, I am ready to hear a TCP joke.”

“OK, I am about to send the TCP joke.  It will last 10 seconds, it has two characters, does not have a setting, and ends with a punchline.”

“I’m sorry, your connection has timed out.”

….”Hello, would you like to hear a TCP joke?”


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