Kasey Cassells (Global) - Happy Birthday, World Wide Web!

If you were lucky enough to own a PC back in 1991, it might have looked something like the NeXT model pictured above. Back then we were listening to band-of-the-moment Nirvana and doing our best Hannibal Lecter impressions after the release of Silence of the Lambs. Meanwhile, Tim Berners-Lee was typing a message on his NeXT PC to announce his latest project - the World Wide Web.

Twenty years ago this month, Berners-Lee posted a summary of the project on the CERN International Newsgroup, announcing that soon, with the click of a mouse or by typing a command, we would be able to “access the entire world of data”. This announcement, as momentous as it seems today, went largely unnoticed. Although the Internet had been used as a document sharing tool for years in institutions such as Berners-Lee’s workplace, the CERN physics lab, the World Wide Web project marked the first time web services were publicly available.

The rise of WWW was a slow one. The text-based online world was not accompanied by an image (albeit on a separate page) until 1992, and it was not until the arrival of the Mosaic web browser in 1993 that people really started to take notice - images were finally embedded alongside text and links were made easier to follow. From 1995, Microsoft included its Internet Explorer browser with all new machines, and web browsing as we know it had arrived.

In the beginning, the web was essentially a library, with sites full of pages of information - all linked together and searchable by engines such as AltaVista, Yahoo (both launched 1995), and of course Google (launched 1998). The web is now so much more than billions of pages of information. Although it’s still amazing that we can find the answer to any question within seconds (which British Prime Minister was born in a toilet?), many have built on the original WWW idea to create services we couldn’t imagine life without today.

Web based applications and services have changed the music, news, publishing and communications industries beyond recognition. In the last few years alone, the mobile web has put information in the palm of our hand; cloud services have emerged as the solve-it-all tool of choice for businesses, and social media has transformed the way we communicate with each other.

In terms of technology, the web is relatively young, and has completely transformed since that day in 1991. Nobody knows what the web will look like in another 20 years’ time, but it is certain that it will continue to make running our lives and our businesses easier.


By Kasey Cassells, E-Copy Writer, IDG Connect


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