As far as I know, it was the very first protocol established to have instant communication over the internet. It's a very old and established protocol... there have been programs built for all different operating systems (mirc, bitchx, ircii) to interface with IRC. Even the earlier web page chats (like that of MSN and Yahoo web chat) were based on a modified version of the protocol.
depends.... the point is, is that a protocol is a specific set of instructions that have to be followed in order to keep something working right. so, your computer has to follow a specific order for you to chat in IRC. There are a bunch of "front ends" that let you interface with it. You can download stuff to do it.... you can go to the chat on daniweb: http://www.daniweb.com/chat/ and you can use the "java client" which will load right inside the page. You can go to http://www.mirc.com and download a program that sits next to the time.... it all depends.
Ummmmm How would a nongeek find it and do I need to download anything?
1. download a client from mirc and download and install the irc client.
2. It will bug you to register your software everytime you start it, but it is not necessary.
3. Fill out any info requested on the screen that pops up(username, email etc.) Then clikc ok.
4. Close out any other windows that pop up. On the bottom of the main window type: /server irc.daniweb.com -j #daniweb
It will connect to the daniweb irc server and join the chat.
I tyoed that from memory, there might be another prompt or two. Need any more help just ask.
On another note, it is important to be patient. As Comatose said, there are only about 4 regulars there. We usually have our irc client running all the time. Even if someone is in the chat, they may not be at the keyboard. If you have a question, just ask and someone will get to it when they get back to their computer. We see too many people leave within a few minutes because no answers them right away. So ask, if you can't stay, just leave your irc client open and check back later.
I had mirc on my old computer because someone else installed it but I never figured out how to use it. Now I just went and it tells me that I need a chinese language pack to properly view it? Maybe I am just too stupid. It wouldn't be the first time! Thanks for your detailed reply though. I can't read chinese.