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World Wide Web Turns 20

Tim Berners-Lee

On August 6th, 1991, the world changed as we know it forever. Tim Berners-Lee published the first website ever using the NeXT computer at the CERN in Switzerland.

As early as 1980, Berners-Lee began working on hypertext, which would become the foundation for HTML or, Hyper Text Markup Language, that is used in basic website development to this day. It was at the CERN in 1989 that he began to join the concept of hypertext with TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and DNS (Domain Naming System) which would go on to build the World Wide Web.

Even though many of the protocols that are used on the internet were being worked on and developed by different groups around the world, it was Berners-Lee who led the charge to actually make the internet accessible to everyone by the creation of the WWW.

The first ever website was

“The idea was to connect hypertext with the Internet and personal computers, thereby having a single information network to help CERN physicists share all the computer-stored information at the laboratory. Hypertext would enable users to browse easily between texts on web pages using links. The first examples were developed on NeXT computers. Berners-Lee created a browser-editor with the goal of developing a tool to make the Web a creative space to share and edit information and build a common hypertext. What should they call this new browser: The Mine of Information? The Information Mesh? When they settled on a name in May 1990, it was the WorldWideWeb.” Source:

In order for there to be an actual “web”, computers had to be able to connect to web servers to view the sites that were published. Personal computers in homes were not as advanced or sophisticated as the NeXT system, so software needed to be developed to enable the average home user to easily browse the WWW.

“…a website is like a telephone; if there’s just one it’s not much use. Berners-Lee’s team needed to send out server and browser software. The NeXT systems however were far advanced over the computers people generally had at their disposal: a far less sophisticated piece of software was needed for distribution. By spring of 1991, testing was underway on a universal line mode browser , which would be able to run on any computer or terminal. It was designed to work simply by typing commands. There was no mouse, no graphics, just plain text, but it allowed anyone with an Internet connection access to the information on the Web.”

After leaving the CERN in 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C as it is more commonly known, to establish royalty free international standards for use for the World Wide Web. W3C’s mission has been to continue to develop the World Wide Web, and maintain its accessibility to every one. Their basic principles are outlined as “Web for All” and “Web on Everything”.

So the next time you visit your favorite celebrity’s webpage, or publish your cosplay pictures to your personal web space, remember this day fondly, because it was the beginning of there actually being destinations to visit on the Information Super-Highway.



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