Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) are 2 protocols that, through their relationship, connect Internet devices. They form a protocol suite that ensures end-to-end delivery and connectivity across the Internet.

Let’s pretend that you buy an unassembled entertainment center from, say, a very large, multinational Swedish furniture manufacturer. You get it home, open the box, and find that there are no assembly instructions. You call support, have them ship you the instructions, but when you get them you discover the steps aren’t in the proper order. All the information is there, it’s just not in a usable, readable format. That information represents the IP packets that have been shipped, and shipped effectively. In fact, the packets may have been shipped via different routes. Maybe some of your assembly instructions were shipped by air and others via truck. They all got there, but now you’ll need somebody to translate them―that’s TCP.

IP assigns labels to the packets and ships them, determining the best route to get them there. When the packets arrive at their intended destination, TCP assembles them in the proper sequence, transforming the IP packets into a readable, usable format. If there are missing pieces or errors, TCP maintains the connection until everything has arrived.

Interesting tidbit alert: TCP/IP was developed in the 1970’s by the U.S. Department of Defense to support ARPANET, a wide area network on which our current Internet is based. ARPANET is an acronym for The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. While the ARPANET project ended in 1990, it laid the groundwork for the Internet.