Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A true watershed moment -- only 20 years ago Saturday, the first web site was launched

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Since the web and magazine publishing have become inextricably intertwined (and will be more so in future) it seems appropriate to note that this coming Saturday, August 6, marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the very first website.
It was created by (now Sir) Tim Berners-Lee, who was the inventor of the World Wide Web, a browser-editor so dubbed  in March 1990. He was working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (called CERN) which was created to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory. It was there that he initiated a project called ENQUIRE, which was an attempt to marry hypertext language with the internet.
A copy of the first web site's first page is still available online at the World Wide Web Consortium. It's so prosaic -- a plain vanilla text-based page with embedded links -- that it seems astonishing that  it is the foundation upon which, in only two decades, we have come to where we are today.
"Info.cern.ch was the address of the world's first-ever web site and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN. The first web page address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, which centred on information regarding the WWW project. Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information. There are no screenshots of this original page and, in any case, changes were made daily to the information available on the page as the WWW project developed. You may find a later copy (1992) on the World Wide Web Consortium website."
(Shown above is the historic NeXT computer which was the first web server, hypermedia browser and web editor.http://info.cern.ch/) 
(By the way, in October 2009, Berners-Lee admitted that the forward slashes // in a web address were unnecessary and URLs could easily have been designed without them. Now he tells us.)



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