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IP stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address is used in conjunction with an ISP router to direct network traffic. Basically it's an internet service provider technology that uniquely identifies a computer or device on the Internet, just like a real-world address uniquely identifies a place in the real world. Devices hooked directly up to the Internet need global IP addresses. A router so hooked up can take information given to it and further distribute it to local IP addresses -- just like an apartment building can have multiple local addresses for its one street address. IP addresses are always of the form xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx where 'x' can range from 0-9.