The Internet Gopher, or simply Gopher, is a distributed document delivery service. It allows users to explore, search and retrieve information residing on different locations in a seamless fashion.
When browsing it, the information appears to the user as a series of nested menus. This kind of menu structure resembles the organization of a directory with many subdirectories and files. The subdirectories and the files may be located either on the local server site or on remote sites served by other Gopher servers. From the user point of view, all information items presented on the menus appear to come from the same place.
The information can be a text or binary file, directory information (loosely called phone book), image or sound. In addition, Gopher offers gateways to other information systems (World Wide Web (WWW), WAIS, archie, WHOIS) and network services (Telnet, FTP). Gopher is often a more convenient way to navigate in a FTP directory and to download files.
A Gopher server holds the information and handles the users' queries. In addition, links to other Gopher servers create a network wide cooperation to form the global Gopher web (Gopher-space).