THIS CHAPTER introduces the basic concepts of data communications and shows how we have progressed from paper-based systems to modern computer networks. It begins by describing why it is important to study data communications and how the invention of the telephone, the computer, and the Internet has transformed the way we communicate. Next, the basic types and components of a data communication network are discussed. The importance of a network model based on layers and the importance of network standards are examined. The chapter concludes with an overview of three key trends in the future of networking.