Today is World Wide Web Day where we celebrate all things Web! For so long the WWW has been providing the world at our fingertips and a wealth of knowledge at our feet but is too often taken for granted. So we’re here today to give it a little bit of appreciation and explore its humble beginnings.
Before we begin it’s important to clear something up. It’s a common misconception that the Web or World Wide Web and the Internet are the same thing. As both terms are often synonymously with one another. But the Web is just a service that operates over the Internet. It’s essentially an information system that allows us to connect up various documents via links. We use the Internet on our computers to access this big Web of documents or Web pages. The history of the Internet significantly predates the history of the Web.
A timeline of the World Wide Web
We have Sir Tim Berners-Lee to thank for the creation of the World Wide Web. In 1989 Tim laid out a proposal for the Web intended to make it easier to share information across the Internet. Before this, there was different information on different computers and you had to log onto different computers to get what you wanted. But believe it or not his initial proposal was rejected.
By 1990 Tim Berners-Lee had created the three core technologies that remain the foundation of today’s Web. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the language of the Web, Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) a unique address for each resource on the Web and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) allows retrieval of linked resources on the Web. You’ll probably recognise a few of these as they still appear in your browser today. Just take a glance and your search bar and you’ll see at least one. With this technology, he created the first ever website.
People outside of CERN (Time Berners-Lee workplace) were being invited to join the Web. Primarily University-based scientific departments or physics laboratories.
As the Web grew Tim Berners-Lee realised that its full potential could only be met is everyone and anyone could use it without paying a fee. So in 1993 Tim and colleagues announced that they would ensure CERN would agree to make the underlying code available royalty-free, forever.
Tim moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). W3C is devoted to developing and upkeeping open Web standards so that the Web will always be accessible royalty-free.
In just that short time the web as we know it has come to life and is pretty much the same as it was then now. Sure we have fancier browsers and website frontends but the basic codes and languages are the same.
What are you most grateful for about the Web? We’re grateful that Tim Berners-Lee pushed for an open Web so everyone could have the world at their fingertips and a wealth of knowledge at their feet. We are standing on the shoulders of giants.