Demystifying Technology without Jargon

  1. API
  2. Binary Code
  3. Cache
  4. Compiling
  5. Cookie
  6. Database
  7. Defragmenting
  8. Exploit
  9. IP Address
  10. Open Source
  11. Phishing
  12. Router
  13. Server
  14. VPN
  15. Web Browser


A router is a networking device, commonly specialized hardware, that forwards data packets between computer networks.


A Router is a Telephone Operator.

In the "old days", you didn't dial someone directly, you lifted the handset and asked the operator to connect you somewhere. Telephone operators sat at large switchboards and would quite literally connect you to someone else by plugging your cord into the correct outlet.

A router does the same thing. When websites want to be able to send a webpage to your computer, the router connects the web server's message to your device (rather than some other device in your house).


A Router is a Receptionist.

When you connect a router to your modem, it takes the IP address of your modem and gives everyone connected to it a private IP address that only it knows. When you ask a web server for a web page, the router connects you, but the webserver only knows the "public" ip address. When the web server responds with your web page, only the router knows where to send that information.

If you were having a meeting with someone at an office, only the receptionist knows where everyone sits and their phone numbers. He or she would then send your message to the person, rather than connect you directly.


Hear a term that you wish had a metaphor? Tweet us, post it to Facebook, or, if you're feeling geeky, open a new task on Github!

Created by Clint Andrew Hall, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.