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History of Internet – How The World Wide Web Was Born

Here’s a quick history of the internet and how the World Wide Web was born.

1989 was the year it all started. The World Wide Web (WWW or W3), an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by URLs, interlinked by hypertext links, accessed via the internet has been known simply as the web.

History of the Internet – The Brain Behind the WWW

On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web became publicly available. Its creator, the now internationally known Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the brain behind the birth of the technology which has fundamentally changed the world as we know it.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist. He was born in London, and his parents were early computer scientists, working on one of the earliest computers.

History of internet sir lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Growing up, Sir Tim was interested in trains and had a model railway in his bedroom. He recalls:

“I made some electronic gadgets to control the trains. Then I ended up getting more interested in electronics than trains. Later on, when I was in college I made a computeout of an old television set.”

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How the World Wide Web Was Born

After graduating from Oxford University, Berners-Lee became a software engineer at CERN, the large particle physics laboratory also known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, Switzerland.

Scientists come from all over the world to use its accelerators, but Sir Tim noticed that they were having difficulty sharing information.

“In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it.

Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee”, Tim says.

He had been looking for a way for physicists to share information around the world without all using the same types of hardware and software. This culminated in his 1989 proposal titled “Information Management:

Sir Tims ofiginal proposal
Tims original proposal

The document envisaged the Web as being used for a variety of purposes, such as “document registration, on-line help, project documentation, news schemes and so on.”

However, British Berners-Lee and his collaborator Robert Cailliau, a Belgian engineer and computer scientist, had the foresight to avoid being too specific about its potential uses.

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The proposal failed to gain much momentum. His boss at the time, Mike Sendall, noted the words “Vague but exciting” on the cover of the proposal.

The Web was never an official CERN project, but Mike managed to give Tim time to work on it in September 1990. He began work using a NeXT computer, one of Steve Jobs’ early products.

By October of 1990, Tim had written the three fundamental technologies that remain the foundation of today’s Web (and which you may have seen appear on parts of your Web browser):

  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The markup (formatting) language for the Web.
  • URI: Uniform Resource Identifier. A kind of “address” that is unique and used to identify to each resource on the Web. It is also commonly called a URL.
  • HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the Web.

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Tim also wrote the first Web page editor/browser (“WorldWideWeb.app”) and the first Web server (“http“).

By the end of 1990, the first Web page was served on the open internet, and On 6 August 1991, the World Wide Web became publicly available as people outside of CERN were invited to join this new Web community.

As the Web began to grow, Tim realized that its true potential would only be unleashed if anyone, anywhere could use it without paying a fee or having to ask for permission.

He explains: “Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

So, Tim and others advocated ensuring that CERN would agree to make the underlying code available on a royalty-free basis, forever.

This decision was announced in April 1993 and sparked a global wave of creativity, collaboration, and innovation never seen before.

While a number of browser applications were developed during the first two years of the Web, it was Mosaic which arguably had the most impact.

It was launched in 1993 and by the end of that year was available for Unix, the Commodore Amiga, Windows and Mac OS.

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The first browser to be freely available and accessible to the public, it inspired the birth of the first commercial browser, Netscape Navigator, while Mosaic’s technology went on to form the basis of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Summary History of the Internet – Birth of the World Wide Web

  • On 12 March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal for a distributed information system at CERN
  • 20 December 1990, the world’s first website and server go live at CERN
  • 6 August 1991, Berners Lee posted a summary of the project on alt.hypertext
  • 30 April 1993, CERN releases WorldWideWeb source code
  • October 1 1994, Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community devoted to developing open Web standards. He remains the Director of W3C to this day.

You might want to consider reading: “Weaving the Web” by Tim Berners-Lee

That’s a quick history of internet and how the world wide web was born. have other information about the history of internet? Let’s have your comments in the comment box below.

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