You open up your internet browser, type in a website address (URL) and within seconds, you arrive at your destination. But what goes on under the hood? How does typing in a URL load a webpage, and not just any webpage for that matter, but the unique webpage you requested?
Before we can discuss website addresses, we should ask what is a website? Take a website like
reddit.com When we access Reddit and spend hours looking at pictures of cats, what we are actually doing is checking out the content on Reddit’s servers (or the content that it references on other servers).
Every server has its own unique IP Address (Internet Protocol Address). You can think about GPS Coordinates for a building address as being the real world equivalent of an IP Address. Every server has a unique IP address just like every building in the world has unique GPS Coordinates.
|The ICICS Building at UBC||Google Maps Server|
|GPS: 49.2611454,-123.2489258||IP Address: 188.8.131.52|
note: for a massive website like Google Maps, it’s not just one server or the website would quickly crash, instead it’s many servers. For the sake of simplicity we’ll pretend it’s only one server.