The Web, or the World Wide Web (WWW), is an information system where resources are identified by URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) that are found on the Internet. These documents can be accessed through a web browser such as Google. But that is just the general know-how about the Web that most people know. The following paragraphs will go into detail about the history of the Web in order to educate readers about something we use practically every day.
By all accounts, the Web was created by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. CERN is not a single laboratory but rather a collective of thousands of scientists from many countries. Each of CERN’s members is prominent in his or her own right and communicate with each other to work on projects. This was the basis for the Web. CERN members wanted to discover an effective way to communicate globally through data networks and hypertext.
However, if you wanted to name a single person responsible for creating the Web, it would be accurate to mention Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist. He wrote the first proposal for the Web in March of 1989 and produced a second proposal in May of 1990. According to CERN’s website, “Together with Belgian systems engineer Robert Cailliau, this was formalised as a management proposal in November 1990. This outlined the principal concepts and it defined important terms behind the Web. The document described a “hypertext project” called “WorldWideWeb” in which a “web” of “hypertext documents” could be viewed by “browsers”’ (“A Short History of the Web”). This was just the foundation, however, and it did not take much time before the actual Web was up and running.
The first web server was a NeXT Computer (a workstation computer used for mainly educational purposes). This device was also used to write the seminal web browser, WorldWideWeb in 1990 (Arrington, Michael). On December 20, 1990, the first website (info.cern.ch) was launched. It was dedicated to giving information about the World Wide Web project (“The Birth of the Web”).
The first web server outside of Europe was created at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto, California in December of 1991. With several more years of development, CERN announced that the Web would be free for everyone and could be used at no cost on the 30th of April, 1993. However, just two months after this, the “Gopher” protocol that was being employed was no longer free of charge. This made the team move away from “Gopher,” which resulted in early popular web browsers like ViolaWWW for Unix to be created. But the real shift came when the Mosiac browser was introduced in 1993. The breakthrough came because of how it successfully mixed graphics with text in webpages and how it was user-friendly. By 1995, the total amount of websites was not large, but many were pivotal and influenial—and even some of them are still prominent (Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J.). With the popularity of Mosiac, the Web truly took off, and websites were created at an exponential rate since its inception.
The Web was introduced to initially connect CERN members, scientists from around the world, effectively across the Internet. However, later when it became public and more developed, it became an international phenomenon due to easy-to-navigate browsers such as Mosiac. It has since grown in data and websites at an alarming rate, and it seems this innocuous experiment has now budded into a ubiquitous tool.
Vaughan-Nichols, Steven J. “Mosaic Turns 25: The Beginning of the Modern Web.” ZDNet, ZDNet, 16 Jan. 2019, www.zdnet.com/article/mosaics-birthday-25-years-of-the-modern-web/.
“A Short History of the Web.” CERN, home.cern/science/computing/birth-web/short-history-web.
Arrington, Michael. “NeXT Computer Unboxing, Twenty Years Later.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 18 Dec. 2008, techcrunch.com/2008/12/18/next-computer-unboxing-twenty-years-later/.
“The Birth of the Web.” CERN, home.cern/science/computing/birth-web.