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-- About Computer Networking --

A network of computers is when two or more computers are connected to each other and can exchange information. Computer networks range in size from a small home network to large corporations to the largest network in the world, the Internet. Computers must have networking capabilities and if more then two computers are being connected then there must be a router or switch used to connect them together. Networking computers together allows for the exchanging of information between computers and can help people in a work environment communicate faster and more efficiently. Networking allows for things such as: Electronic Mail, File Sharing, Printer Sharing, Video Conferencing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Telephone Systems, and company web sites.
Computer networking was not something the average person worried about in their home until the Internet because something everybody wanted in their house. Since the explosion of the Internet people have started to create home networks with many devices in their homes for easy access to the Internet through laptops, televisions, and game consoles. More and more consumer devices are beginning to become network capable such as Printers, Mobile Phones, Game Consoles, and Televisions.
Computer networks are diagramed using something called a "topology" to show how computers are connected to one another. Note that the physical layout of the network does not reflect the diagram. It is simply used as a way to understand the type of the network. The different Topology's are: Star, Ring, Bus, and Mesh. In a star network all nodes(PC's or devices) are connected to a central piece of equipment. A star topology is the most used today. In a ring topology each node is connected to it's neighboring node to it's left and right. A bus topology contains a medium for the nodes to connect to. All nodes connect to this medium in the network. In a mesh topology "each node is connected to an arbitrary number of neighbors in such a way that there is at least one traversal from any node to any other."
Computers are able to talk to each other on a network through something called a Protocol. Think of a protocol as a language. If both computers are able to speak the same language then they can communicate. The most popular networking protocals today is is the Internet Protocol Suite or IP. One of the most commonly used componants of the IP Suite is called Transmission Control Protocol. This is commonly refered to as TCP/IP. TCP/IP is used by almost everything network in the world and that includes the Internet. Other examples of protocols that one may run in to are: UDP, FTP, IMAP, SMTP, POP3, SSH, SSL, DHCP, and DNS. Do not worry about what each one does or stands for. Just know that they all are part of networking and some control your email, how files are transfered at your work, how web sites are found on the Internet, and how you can connect to the Internet without setting anything up. Without these protocols or languages then computers in a network would have no way of talking to one another.
There are different scales of computer networks. The different types are: LAN, MAN, and WAN. Most people will only use a Local Area Network(LAN) in their home and/or office. This means that the network does not extend past the home or office building the network has been setup in. City's use what is called a Metropolitan Area Network(MAN) to network the city government buildings, schools, library's, etc. together. MAN networks do not extend past the city limits. The largest of the three, a Wide Area Network(WAN), is what enterprise level corporations use and what the Internet is based on. A Wide Area Network can connect to any where in the world and is connected by means of the Internet Service Provider(ISP). The ISP will give the user an IP address that is used to find the person on the Internet. Special WAN routers are used to control who has access to your network and what they will have access to.
There are other types of specialized networks such as Storage Area Network and Virtual Private Networks that are more advanced serve a specific purpose. If you are interested in learning about them follow the Wikipedia link at the bottom of the page. Below are some FYI's about networking.

Networking Diagrams

LAN or Home Network Diagram MAN Diagram WAN Diagram

Advanced Information

Wikipedia was used as a source for this information. Thank you to all those who contributed to it.