IP Addresses continue the very interesting series of names that we find on the internet. For us, they are sort of the end of the line when it comes to the internet and names. Our friend sends us a link, a URL of another webpage. That URL is the full human readable location of that thing on the internet. Part of that url is the domain name, which refers to a computer or a bunch of computers somewhere. But unfortunately, computers don’t really read English, and when you say “Go to thekeesh.com,” it really doesn’t know where to go.
There are a few steps in between that we will talk about later, but basically what happens is that you say “thekeesh.com” and it says: “126.96.36.199”
So that’s my real address on the internet. It’s an IP address, or an Internet Protocol Address.
I was going to make my own image like I’ve been doing in the past, but just found Wikipedia’s and it is pretty good.
So here’s an IP address broken down. It’s four numbers between 0 and 255 (8 bits, but we’ll get to that later). To be honest, it doesn’t really matter here what the numbers mean. Basically you can think of the IP Address as being the address of a domain name on the internet that computers understand.
The Big Issue
Basically, the internet has gotten really big recently, and we are running out of these numbers. Read more about it here. So people redesigned IP adresses to give us way more addresses. They are 128 bit (we will talk about that more later), but that means that there are “2^128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 3.4×1038) addresses,” according to Wikipedia. That is a huge number. We are much less worried about running out with IPv6.
So the moral of the story: An IP Address is the number assigned to a computer that is connected to the internet. Everything connected to the internet gets one, phones and printers too!