In 1989 the world’s largest physics laboratory, CERN, was a hive of ideas and information stored on multiple, incompatible computers. Sir Tim Berners-Lee envisioned a unifying structure for linking information across different computers and wrote a proposal in March 1989 called “Information Management: A Proposal”. By Aug 6, 1991, this vision of universal connectivity had become the World Wide Web. It has been central to the development of the Information Age and is the primary tool billions of people use to interact on the Internet.
“Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked. Suppose I could program my computer to create a space in which everything could be linked to everything.” Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, said.
The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), which hyperlinks may interlink and are accessible over the Internet. The Web resources are transferred via the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), may be accessed by users by a software application called a web browser, and are published by a software application called a web server. The World Wide Web is not synonymous with the Internet, which pre-dated the Web in some form by over two decades and upon which technologies the Web is built.
Thirty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee published the first-ever webpage. Looking at the original today gives a fascinating insight into how the world wide web has evolved from its simple, text-based beginnings to the complex and structured global network it is today. Did Sir Tim Berners-Lee have any idea that it would become what it is today? Only he knows.
While talking about his brilliant idea, Berners-Lee said that 1995 was an exciting year for him as Microsoft introduced Windows 95, and he co-authored the first antivirus for that platform. As internet use grew, so too did the ranks of bad actors trying to exploit it. Malware became common, and it was pretty much impossible to go online without some protection. The world needed a solution, and at that moment, an industry was born. Microsoft introduced Windows 95, and Tim Berners-Lee was the man to co-author the first antivirus for that platform.
It was few years before Sir Tim officially started his career in cybersecurity. Then, at the dawn of the internet, he promised a technology that enabled us to put the world at our fingertips. By 1995, roughly 40 million people were accessing the internet daily, and while that might seem trivial today, few trends rival the growth of the internet or the changes it has brought to our world.
Connected by the Internet, various websites were created around the world. This motivated international standards development for protocols and formatting. Berners-Lee continued to guide the development of web standards, such as the markup languages to compose web pages, and he advocated his vision of a Semantic Web. The World Wide Web enabled the spread of information over the Internet through an easy-to-use and flexible format. It thus played an important role in popularising the use of the Internet.
The web has become a public square, a library, a doctor’s office, a shop, a school, a design studio, an office, a cinema, a bank, and much more. But, of course, with every new feature, every new website, the divide between those who are online and those who are not increases, making it all the more imperative to make the web available for everyone.