The Internet is the global system of interconnected mainframe, personal, and wireless computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link billions of devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries an extensive range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, Usenet newsgroups, telephony, and peer-to-peer networks for file sharing.
Although the Internet protocol suite has been used by academia and the military industrial complex since the early 1980s, rapid adoption of its use was driven by events of the late 1980s and 1990s such as more powerful and affordable computers, the advent of fiber optics, the popularization of HTTP and the Web browser, and a push towards opening the technology to commerce. Internet use grew rapidly in the West from the mid-1990s and from the late 1990s in the developing world. In the 20 years since 1995, Internet use has grown 100-times to reach over one third of the world population, leading to its services and technologies being incorporated into virtually every aspect of contemporary life. The impact of the Internet has been so immense that it has been referred to as the "8th continent".