According to Statista, more than half of the world’s population has access to the Internet. But how did the web evolve from a proposal to a global network that changed everything? Let’s take a look at the past of the internet…
The history of the World Wide Web (also known as “web history”) is a fascinating topic. When Tim Berners-Lee set up the first web server, he left a handwritten note in red ink to ensure that it was available: “This computer is a server.” DO NOT TURN IT OFF!!” Our virtual world is now powered by vast data centres all over the world.
The World Wide Web has developed into a massive web of interconnections that continues to expand and is used for a variety of purposes. The World Wide Web is a place where you can do everything from order food to give oppressed communities a voice. Of course, as the internet has evolved, we’ve seen a huge increase in spamming and other forms of cybercrime. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Today, we’ll debunk a few common misconceptions about the internet and share some fascinating information about the global network we use every day. We’ll also answer your questions about who invented the World Wide Web and show you a timeline of important events in the web’s history. But first, a little background on the World Wide Web!
The History of the Web (and the Internet It is based on)
This is a fantastic piece of web history. The world’s first web server is depicted in this photograph. Robert Scoble, Half Moon Bay, California, USA / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0). Wikimedia Commons was used to create this image.
It’s impossible to discuss the history of the internet without first discussing the internet. A psychologist and computer scientist named J. C. R. Licklider predicted developments in information systems in 1960. Future libraries, according to Licklider, will be linked through “wide-band communication lines,” the same idea that underpins the internet.
He was appointed director of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at ARPA, the US Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, a few years later. (In 1972, ARPA was renamed DARPA, which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.) One of the first networks to use the TCP/IP protocol suite was ARPA’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).
The journey towards a decentralised interconnected system began in 1969, when the first ARPANET connection was created between the University of California and the Stanford Research Institute. As the ARPANET system became more stable, more hosts were introduced to it. There were more than 200 linked systems by 1981.
However, ARPANET was not without flaws: it was used by a variety of computers that weren’t always compatible due to variations in hardware, applications, and operating systems. It’s like attempting to communicate with a group of people who all speak different languages.
A World Wide Web History Timeline
So, who is the inventor of the World Wide Web? Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, a consultant at CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) at the time, received this award.
Berners-Lee came up with the concept for hypertext after returning home from high school one day while his father was working on a speech, according to Scientific American. The speech’s subject was how computers, like the human brain, could intuitively create connections based on the hypertext principle. The concept stuck with him and eventually inspired the creation of the World Wide Web as we know it today.
Web History — The 1980s
Berners-Lee wrote Enquire, a software to monitor the various scientists working at CERN and their interrelated ventures, while consulting for the organisation in 1980. The software looked for unique words.
After three years at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems Ltd., where he focused on computer networks, graphics, and communication applications, Berners-Lee returned to CERN full-time in 1984. Paul Mockapetris had already established the domain name system by this time (DNS). Lee’s goal was to build a global information space that would allow users all over the world to access data stored on computers in any place. The stage was set for the World Wide Web to emerge, with HTML serving as its primary publishing language.
Berners-Lee circulated the first draught of his paper “Information Management: A Proposal” for feedback at CERN in 1989. The paper expressed concerns about data loss and proposed a distributed hypertext system-based solution. The plan was rewritten the next year.
Web History — The 1990s
By the end of 1990, Berners-Lee had developed the WorldWideWeb browser/editor, as well as a server and line-mode browser, with the aid of Robert Cailliau. In December 1990, the first client-server contact over the internet took place.
However, after the introduction of the Mosaic web browser, it became more popular and open to the general public. Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina developed the browser on January 23, 1993, according to ZDNet. The web used to be a series of connected text pages, but with Mosaic, images were displayed alongside text. (However, the ZDNet article quickly points out that the title of first graphical web browser is contested by a number of other browsers.) ViolaWWW, Erwise, and Cello are among them.)
The World Wide Web was first made public on April 30, 1993. Berners-Lee “released the source code for the world’s first browser and editor,” according to History.com.
JumpStation, produced by Jonathon Fletcher, was published in December 1993. Crawling, indexing, and searching were all firsts for a web search engine.
Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1994, an international community dedicated to the creation of open standards for realising the web’s long-term potential.
Did You Know the Following Web History?
Mosaic was the first widely used web browser available to the general public. Do you want to know when the other big browsers that we use today first appeared on the scene?
- In October 1994, Netscape Navigator, which was developed by the same people who created Mosaic, was launched.
- According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Internet Explorer was first published in June 1995. (According to Wikipedia, it was published on August 15, 1995.)
- Firefox’s previous name was Phoenix, and it was first released in 2002. The first version of Firefox, dubbed Firefox 1.0, was released in 2004.
- Safari, Apple’s browser, was launched on January 7, 2003.
- On September 2, 2008, Google Chrome was launched.
- The first webcam to be linked to the internet was a livestream of a coffee pot at the University of Cambridge in 1991.
- The first internet video hosting site, ShareYourWorld.com, was launched in 1997.
- In 1982, the Boston Computer Exchange became the world’s first online marketplace. In 1995, Amazon.com became one of the first e-commerce sites to open for business since the advent of the internet.
- The 3-D animated dancing baby became the first viral video in 1996!
5 Key Facts to Know About World Wide Web History
There’s a lot to learn about the history of the internet, who invented www, and how it’s progressed since its inception. Let’s take a look at five web facts that you may find fascinating…
The World Wide Web is Not the Internet (But It Does Run on It)
The internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing, as you might have heard (even though people use the two terms interchangeably). When the World Wide Web was born, the internet already existed; it also acted as the perfect infrastructure on which it could function. The World Wide Web refers to the webpages and places we visit on a daily basis, as well as the interconnected network of links that connects them.
The internet, on the other hand, is more physical than we would think. It entails the use of a variety of materials, such as wires, hubs, and cables, which are scattered across the land and hidden deep underneath the oceans. These cables are used to link continents. These cables stretch for more than 550,000 miles underwater. This is in addition to the IT infrastructure, which includes networks, servers, and other equipment, that is needed to operate it.
Instant messaging, email, and FTP are only a few of the resources available on the internet. (Check out our other article for more information on the history of email security.) The World Wide Web is another service that is often used by internet users. It’s an internet-based framework for gathering, storing, processing, organising, and disseminating data. It is made up of documents and web resources that are defined by URIs (unique resource identifiers) (URLs). The Apollo workstation’s ‘domain’ file system inspired the double slash we see in URLs today.
HTTP Is the Underlying Protocol of the Web and It Was Developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991
The HTTPS protocol, which we use today to access websites via secure communication channels, is an evolution of Tim Berners-first Lee’s instance of HTTP. The protocol has been upgraded over time to provide support for various media, error codes, SSL/TLS, and other features.
The Web Proposal was Labeled “Vague, but exciting” by Lee’s Manager with “And now?” at the End
Mike Sendall, Lee’s boss at CERN, thought the idea was “vague, but exciting” when it was first submitted in 1989. He agreed with Lee’s plan to purchase one of the NeXT computers and urged him to pursue it further. The MESH, The Information Mine, or simply the Web were three big contenders for the project’s name as it began to grow on the side.
Lee also developed the WorldWideWeb browser, which was later renamed Nexus to avoid confusion with the project. Tim Berners-Lee created the first hypertext server programme, called “httpd,” along with the client browser. The client browser would bind to it as it ran in the background, serving “sites” to end-users.
CERN Bowed Out of Further Web Development Activity But Not Before Submitting a Proposal for Project “WebCore”
CERN submitted a proposal to the European Union Commission under the ESPRIT programme to create an international consortium in cooperation with MIT to ensure that the site remained available to all. CERN, on the other hand, was about to get approval for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project, and web creation was not part of its primary goal.
Berners-Lee, meanwhile, left CERN to join MIT. He co-founded the W3 consortium with CERN while he was there. The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA) took over CERN’s position a few months later.
CERN, in 2019, Recreated the First Web Browser Built by Tim Berners-Lee
CERN developers recreated the first browser in February 2019 to celebrate the world wide web’s 30th anniversary. Lee’s WorldWideWeb browser could only be used on a NeXT device. Last year, programmers successfully emulated the original browser in every modern browser, removing the need to obtain an old-school NeXT computer in order to enjoy an early web experience.
Wrapping Up on World Wide Web History
In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II knighted Berners-Lee in honour of his “services to the global growth of the Internet.” Given how quickly the internet has expanded and become more available, it will come as a surprise to learn that 41% of the world will be without internet access by July 2020.
Berners-Lee writes a letter every year on or about the web’s anniversary to commemorate how far we’ve come. He also mentions web-related problems in these letters. Last year, he spoke about making the internet a more safe place. One that promotes positive change while avoiding online abuse and incentivized models that hurt end-users. This year’s letter reflects on questions about inequalities in our culture and how the internet puts women’s protection in jeopardy.