Celebrating 25 years of the World Wide Web

James HeslipWebLeave a Comment

August 23rd was celebrated globally as the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web. The exact date is disputed though, and it is said by CERN that the date on which the web was made accessible to the public is really the 6th August 1991. They believe that this should be celebrated as the true birthday of the World Wide Web.

“We thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee and other internet pioneers for making the world more open and connected” – Facebook, 23/08/2016

As Optima’s way of giving thanks – even if there are some disputes in exact dates - the following is a time line briefly detailing the creation of the World Wide Web.

  • ARPANET was the network that became the basis for the Internet. Based on a concept first published in 1967, ARPANET was developed under the direction of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In 1969, the idea became a modest reality with the interconnection of four university computers. The initial purpose was to communicate with and share computer resources among mainly scientific users at the connected institutions.
  • ARPANET took advantage of the new idea of sending information in small units called packets that could be routed on different paths and reconstructed at their destination. The development of the TCP/IP protocols in the 1970s made it possible to expand the size of the network, which now had become a network of networks, in an orderly way.
  • In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) submitted his proposal for a ‘distributed information system’ at CERN. His boss commented ‘Vague, but exciting’, and granted him permission to continue with his work.
  • By the end of 1990, Berners-Lee had written the first browser and server software. The world’s first web page had gone live which outlinined the scope of his project. It included technical details on how to create a webpage and how to search the web for information.
  • In 1991, an early version of the web was released to a community of physicists via CERN. This included the early browser, web server software and a library of functions for users to develop their own software. It began to be picked up by a range of universities and research labs. Finally, it was made available via the internet.
  • By the end of 1991, the first web server outside of Europe was installed at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre (in Stanford, California).
  • In 1993 the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications at the university of Illinois released the Mosaic browser. This made installations and running on early PCs and Macs much easier. CERN released the Web into public domain. The source code of Berners-Lee’s first browser software, WorldWideWeb, was moved into the public domain on the same day.
  • May 25th-27th 1994 was the First International Conference on the World-Wide Web, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland. There were around 380 participants. Events included a demonstration of the web browser known as Arena, and a web browser/HTML editor called Phoenix. This conference was referred to as the “Woodstock of the Web”.

The web has continued to grow ever since. There have been 24 further International World Wide Web Conferences, and the web has kept evolving into something which we have come to rely on and worship today. We would like to give thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the other pioneers of the internet, without whom many of our jobs (and lives) would not be possible.