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The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):

the network n. 1. Historically, the union of all the major noncommercial, academic, and hacker-oriented networks, such as Internet, the pre-1990 ARPANET, NSFnet, BITNET, and the virtual UUCP and Usenet ?networks?, plus the corporate in-house networks and commercial timesharing services (such as CompuServe, GEnie and AOL) that gateway to them. A site is generally considered on the network if it can be reached through some combination of Internet-style (@-sign) and UUCP (bang-path) addresses. See Internet, bang path, network address. 2. Following the mass-culture discovery of the Internet in 1994 and subsequent proliferation of cheap TCP/IP connections, ?the network? is increasingly synonymous with the Internet itself (as it was before the second wave of wide-area computer networking began around 1980). 3. A fictional conspiracy of libertarian hacker-subversives and anti-authoritarian monkeywrenchers described in Robert Anton Wilson's novel Schr?dinger's Cat, to which many hackers have subsequently decided they belong (this is an example of ha ha only serious). In sense 1, the network is often abbreviated to the net. ?Are you on the net?? is a frequent question when hackers first meet face to face, and ?See you on the net!? is a frequent goodbye.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015):

network, the The Network 1. (Or "the net") The union of all the major noncommercial, academic and hacker-oriented networks, such as Internet, the old ARPANET, NSFnet, BITNET, and the virtual UUCP and Usenet "networks", plus the corporate in-house networks and commercial time-sharing services (such as CompuServe) that gateway to them. A site was generally considered "on the network" if it could be reached by electronic mail through some combination of Internet-style (@-sign) and UUCP (bang-path) addresses. Since the explosion of the Internet in the mid 1990s, the term is now synonymous with the Internet. See network address. 2. A fictional conspiracy of libertarian hacker-subversives and anti-authoritarian monkeywrenchers described in Robert Anton Wilson's novel "Schrödinger's Cat", to which many hackers have subsequently decided they belong (this is an example of ha ha only serious). [Jargon File] (1999-01-26)