The World Wide Web Turns 20 Years Old

Posted Aug 6, 2011

On August 6, 1991 (exactly 20 years ago), the World Wide Web had become publicly available. The WWW’s creator Tim Berner-Lee posted a short summary of the project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup. The World Wide Web was originated from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Berners-Lee was looking for a way for physicists to share information around the world. In 1989, Berners-Lee wrote a paper that proposed “A large hypertext database with typed links.” Although the project did not progress far within CERN, it was expanded into a concrete document that proposed a World Wide Web of documents with hypertext links.

According to CERN: 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, 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.

Berners-Lee and his CERN colleagues were the only ones at the time that had web browser software. It was not until 1993 when the Mosaic browser was released that the world wide web technology spread mainstream. In 1994 Berners-Lee had founded an organization called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT in order to create web standards and ensure that different websites would all work in the same way. Below is the first picture that was uploaded to the WWW by Berners-Lee:

Over the next few years, people started connecting to the World Wide Web using Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Internet Explorer. Anyone that knew a little bit of HTML could build their own websites. In California, Sergey Brin and Larry Page were working on a new search engine known as Google. And Internet Service Providers like Prodigy, AOL, and CompuServe was minting money. That was until 2000 when the technology bubble burst.

Around 2004-2005, Web 2.0 was created. Blogging and social networks became very popular. Online advertising companies started making a lot more money again. And social media became mainstream. Today 56-year-old Berner’s Lee is still director of the W3C. Happy 20th birthday World Wide Web. A big hat tip to everyone that believes in spreading information on the World Wide Web and Berners-Lee for all of his contributions.

[The Next Web]