The Internet has come a long way over a relatively short period of time, moving from websites that were difficult to navigate to full-on social networking sites. Now, everything you can imagine – and some things you can’t imagine – is online in some capacity. People are shopping, playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and doing who knows what else on the Internet.
The fun all began 21 years ago yesterday, as Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the World Wide Web – published the first website from a laboratory in the Swiss Alps.
The website is still online today.
The site was updated frequently, with its initial purpose being suitably to explain exactly what the newfangled Internet was. It explained how users could create their very own websites. The first website was created on a NeXT computer and went live on August 6, 1991.
The site was only accessed by a small amount of researchers from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Berners-Lee was an independent contractor with CERN and he started the process by building something called ENQUIRE, a personal database that held software models and presented a new way to work with hypertext. Each new page of ENQUIRE was built or “linked” to another existing page. The “web” had begun.
As Berners-Lee went on, he built a number of tools necessary for the World Wide Web to come into fruition. These included HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first browser, the first Web server, and server software.
CERN users were encouraged to use this new technology after the organization’s telephone network was put on it.
The rest of the world was largely ignorant of this fantastic technology and didn’t really get in touch with the Internet until the introduction of the Mosaic web browser. The browser was developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Funding for Mosaic was delivered in part thanks to a program initiated by Al Gore.
After its popularity began to erupt, there was no turning back.
The Internet is now ubiquitous and a great deal has changed since Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web 21 years ago. We went through a dot-com bubble and saw that burst into a pile of companies developing business opportunities online. And with Web 2.0, the dream of Berners-Lee to have a “Semantic Web” came true.
Today, we carry the Internet with us everywhere. We no longer need supercomputers to log on; we can log on with our phones and are almost always connected in some way to the World Wide Web. It is indeed exciting and somewhat frightening to imagine what things will look like in another 21 years.