The building of ‘information superhighways’, in the first instance exemplified by the massive growth of the Internet, has introduced the general public to computers in communication. The end result is to allow the sharing of computer-based resources that are physically located in all parts of the world. From the point of view of most users, the mechanisms by which computers communicate are best kept hidden. However, without these mechanisms, no sharing of resources could happen.This book aims to reveal the basic principles of computer communications, and show how these underpin the practical communication mechanisms that are actually used. It is intended both for readers who will be involved in getting computers to communicate, and also those who just have a general interest in what happens under the tarmac of the information highway.
The book is deliberately focused tightly onmatters concernedwith communication. It avoids excursions into other areas of computer science, such as computer programming, modelling or simulation, not to mention electronics, photonics or mathematics. Such matters are covered in other specialized texts. The reader requires no background in computer communications, only a basic familiarity with computers in general. A knowledge of computer programming is not required although, in a very few places, a little knowledge would aid full understanding of points made. However, this is not crucial to the main plot. Conversely, the author hopes that the book can also offer something to the reader who does have practical experience of computer communications, by setting this experience in an overall context, and revealing alternative possibilities.