We consider it normal that every telephone has its own telephone number. But have you ever wondered about computers? Each computer also has its own number with which the computer is visible on the internet. You call such a number the IP address. The abbreviation IP stands for Internet Protocol. The term protocol is used here for a reason: a protocol is an agreement that describes exactly which rules and agreements apply, in this case for the internet.
New IP addresses of a computer usually consist of a 128-bit code (Internet Protocol version 6). Computers always calculate in bits: the memory cells of computers are actually millions of tiny switches that can be turned on or off. A computer bit, therefore, has only two values: “0” (switch off) or “1” (switch on).
Available number of IP addresses
Since a bit has two values, the 128 bits for an IP address 2 allow you to create 128 different addresses, which are approximately 3.4 * 10 38 addresses. To give you an idea: that is 3.4 x 100 x 1 billion x 1 billion x 1 billion x 1 billion.
When you consider that 1 billion seconds is equal to 32 years, you can imagine that this is a huge number and that there are enough addresses to meet the high demand for IP addresses in the world. It is not the case that every computer has a random address. Usually, the first part of your IP address is the part that indicates which web hosting company you are registered with. So if you have internet via KPN, the left part of your IP address is the KPN hosting address. The last part of your address is then your specific computer address.
Example LP address
Of course, writing an IP address as a series of zeros and ones (this is called a binary number) is not very straightforward. Therefore, they often divide the sequence of 128 zeros and ones into 8 groups of 16 zeros and ones. You can then split each individual group into four even smaller groups of 4 zeros and ones.
You can then convert these small groups into a hexadecimal number. A hexadecimal number is a number that, in addition to the numbers 0 to 9, can also consist of the letters A to F. This gives you 16 possible options instead of 10 as we are used to in the decimal system that we usually use.