This paper presents a concise and subjective summary of the rapid progress that has been made in the understanding of the essential features of RF discharges. The paper concentrates on introducing the important concepts used in modeling the rf discharge. The discharges have been modeled from several distinctly different approaches. These include circuit, beamdiffusion, plasma fluid or continuum, and particle kinetic models. The treatments have their usefulness depending on the application. The circuit models give easily parameterized results, power deposition, and phase angles between voltage and current, however, they do not describe the important plasma chemistry and the source terms for deposition and etching. The newer continuum models efficiently give self-consistent plasma parameters for higher pressure discharges but synergistic ion and neutral interactions with surfaces are difficult to include. The particle kinetic models can include many effects without approximations, however they need extensive data sets and long computer run times. The coupling of improved diagnostics and the different theories has resulted in a convergence of their conclusions. There are four distinct energy-gain mechanisms in the RF discharge : a bulk plasma excitation; electron beam excitation resulting from secondary emission from ion collisions with the electrodes; wave-riding acceleration on the sheath oscillation (collisional: Kushner); and a noncollisional plasma electron-sheath boundary interaction (Godyak). The relative contributions are sensitive functions of the gas mixture, pressure, frequency and RF voltage.