Internet service provider (ISP), company that provides Internet connections and services to individuals and organizations. In addition to providing access to the Internet, ISPs may also provide software packages (such as browsers), e-mail accounts, and a personal Web site or home page. ISPs can host Web sites for businesses and can also build the Web sites themselves. ISPs are all connected to each other through network access points, public network facilities on the Internet backbone.
\\\\r\\\\nThe rise of commercial Internet services and applications helped fuel a rapid commercialization of the Internet. This phenomenon was the result of several other factors as well. One important factor was the introduction of the personal computer (PC) and the workstation in the early 1980s�a development that in turn was fueled by unprecedented progress in integrated circuit technology and an attendant rapid decline in computer prices. Another factor, which took on increasing importance, was the emergence of Ethernet and other �local area networks� (LANs) to link personal computers. But other forces were at work too. Following the restructuring of AT&T Corporation in 1984, the U.S. National Science Foundation took advantage of various new options for its national-level digital backbone service, known as NSFNET. In 1988 the U.S. Corporation for National Research Initiatives received approval to conduct an experiment linking a commercial e-mail service (MCI Mail) to the Internet. This application was the first Internet connection to a commercial provider that was not also part of the research community. Approval quickly followed to allow other e-mail providers access, and the Internet began its first explosion in traffic.