Information

How Tim Berners-Lee Developed the World Wide Web


Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the WWW Foundation. Image Credit John S. and James L. Knight Foundation / Commons.

In 1990 British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee published a proposal for a revolutionary idea which would connect other computer scientists as they went about their work.

As he realised the potential of this creation, he decided to give it to the world for free – making him perhaps the greatest unsung hero of his time.

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Early life and career

Born to two early computer scientists in London in 1955, his interest in technology started early on.

Like many boys of his age, he owned a train set, but unlike the others he devised gadgets for making the trains move without him touching them.

A few years later the young prodigy graduated from Oxford, where he had enjoyed practising converting TVs into primitive computers.

After graduating, Berners-Lee’s rapid ascent continued as he became a software engineer at CERN – a large particle physics laboratory in Switzerland.

NeXTcube used by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. Image Credit Geni / Commons.

There he observed and mingled with the best scientists and engineers from all over the world and consolidated his own knowledge, but as he did so he noticed a problem.

Looking back later, he observed that “In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it…you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee…”.

An idea

Though the internet existed already and was somewhat used, the young scientist devised a bold new idea to expand its scope infinitely by using a new technology called hypertext.

With this he devised the three fundamental technologies which still provide the basis for today’s web:

1.HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The formatting language for the Web.

2. URI: Uniform Resource Identifier. An address that is unique and used to identify each resource on the Web. It is also commonly called a URL

3. HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the Web.

No longer would individual computers hold specific data, for with these innovations any information could be shared instantly to anywhere in the world.

Understandably excited, Berners-Lee drafted a proposal for his new idea, and put it on the desk of his boss Mike Sendall in March 1989.

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Despite getting it back with the less than effusive words “vague but exciting” scrawled across it, the Londoner persevered and finally in October 1990 Sendall gave him approval for the pursuit of his new project.

Over the next few weeks, the world’s first web browser was created and the official proposal for what had been christened the World Wide Web (hence www.) had been published.

Initially the new technology was confined to the scientists associated with CERN, but as its usefulness quickly became apparent Berners-Lee began to press the company to release it free into the wider world.

Explaining that “had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

Success

Eventually, in 1993, they agreed and the web was given to the world for absolutely nothing. What happened next was beyond revolutionary.

The CERN data centre housing some WWW servers. Image credit Hugovanmeijeren / Commons.

It took the world by storm and lead to thousands of new innovations from YouTube to Social Media to darker facets of human nature such as propaganda videos. Life would never be the same again.

But what of the pioneering man responsible?

Berners-Lee, having never earned any money off the web, never became a billionaire like Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

However, he appears to have lead a comfortable and happy life, and now heads the World Wide Web Foundation, dedicated to encouraging the use of the internet for encouraging positive change.

During the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in his home city, his achievement was formally celebrated. In response he tweeted “This is for everyone”.


HTML is the authoring language used to create documents on the web. It is used to define the structure and layout of a web page, how a page looks, and any special functions. HTML does this by using what are called tags that have attributes. For example, <p> means a paragraph break. As the viewer of a web page, you don't see HTML it is hidden from your view. You see only the results.

Vannevar Bush was an engineer born at the end of the 19th century. By the 1930s he was working on analog computers and in 1945 wrote the article "As We May Think," published in the Atlantic Monthly. In it, he describes a machine he called memex, which would store and retrieve information via microfilm. It would consist of screens (monitors), a keyboard, buttons, and levers. The system he discussed in this article is very similar to HTML, and he called the links between various pieces of information associative trails. This article and theory laid the foundation for Tim Berners-Lee and others to invent the World Wide Web, HTML (hypertext markup language), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), and URLs (Universal Resource Locators) in 1990. Bush died in 1974 before the web existed or the internet became widely known, but his discoveries were seminal.


The internet's creator is auctioning the source code for the world wide web as an NFT

in 1989, british computer scientist sir tim berners-lee invented something that would change the world forever &mdash the world wide web. in a series of events that seem just logical, sotheby&rsquos will be auctioning this month the source code for the world wide web as an NFT. composed of sir tim berners-lee&rsquos original time stamped files signed by him, the NFT will be offered in a standalone online auction dubbed this changed everything.

&lsquothree decades ago, I created something which, with the subsequent help of a huge number of collaborators across the world, has been a powerful tool for humanity,&rsquo said sir tim berners-leesaid. &lsquofor me, the best bit about the web has been the spirit of collaboration. while I do not make predictions about the future, I sincerely hope its use, knowledge and potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation, that we cannot yet imagine. NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artefact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. they are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web.&rsquo


images courtesy of sotheby&rsquos

the this changed everything NFT auctioned by sotheby&rsquos will contain the original time-stamped files containing the source code written by sir tim an animated visualization of the code a letter written by sir tim reflecting on the code and the process of creating it as well as a digital poster of the full code created by sir tim from the original files using python including a graphic os his physical signature. overall, the files contain approximately 9,555 lines including three languages and protocols invented by sir tim &mdash HTML, HTTP, and URIs.

the WorldWideWeb application was the first hypermedia browser, allowing users to create and navigate links between files across a network of computers. it was written in the objective C programming language, using the interface builder on a NeXT computer, a highly innovative computer designed by steve jobs during the time he was forced out of Apple in 1985, and before he rejoined in 1997. three decades on from that one server and one website, there are over 1.7 billion websites being accessed by 4.6 billion people around the world, with children learning HTML in school to make their own webpages.

&lsquoover the past several centuries humankind has seen a succession of paradigm shifts that have brought us forward into the modern era galileo&rsquos proof of heliocentricity, gutenberg&rsquos invention of the printing press, and einstein&rsquos theory of relativity to name but a few, but none has had the seismic impact on our daily lives as the creation of the world wide web,&rsquo said cassandra hatton, VP, global head of science & popular culture at sotheby&rsquos. &lsquosir tim&rsquos invention created a new world, democratizing the sharing of information, creating new ways of thinking and interacting, and staying connected to one another it is hard to imagine our world without it, and even harder to imagine where it will bring us next. this unique and singular auction will celebrate sir tim&rsquos groundbreaking achievement, in which collectors will finally have the opportunity, thanks to the NFT format, to own the ultimate digitally-born artefact.&rsquo


Tim Berners-Lee

In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, an Internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing while at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. He wrote the first web client and server in 1990. His specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined as web technology spread.

He is Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a Web standards organization founded in 1994 that develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. He is a founding Director of the Web Science Trust (WST) launched in 2009 to promote research and education in Web Science, the multidisciplinary study of humanity connected by technology. Berners-Lee is also a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation, launched in 2009 to coordinate efforts to further the potential of the Web to benefit humanity.

At MIT, Berners-Lee is the 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL). He is also a Professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK.


Tim Berners-Lee

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Tim Berners-Lee, in full Sir Tim Berners-Lee, (born June 8, 1955, London, England), British computer scientist, generally credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web. In 2004 he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the inaugural Millennium Technology Prize (€1 million) by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation.

Computing came naturally to Berners-Lee, as both of his parents worked on the Ferranti Mark I, the first commercial computer. (See computer: The first stored-program machines.) After graduating in 1976 from the University of Oxford, Berners-Lee designed computer software for two years at Plessey Telecommunications Ltd., located in Poole, Dorset, England. Following this, he had several positions in the computer industry, including a stint from June to December 1980 as a software engineering consultant at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Geneva.

While at CERN, Berners-Lee developed a program for himself, called Enquire, that could store information in files that contained connections (“links”) both within and among separate files—a technique that became known as hypertext. After leaving CERN, Berners-Lee worked for Image Computer Systems Ltd., located in Ferndown, Dorset, where he designed a variety of computer systems. In 1984 he returned to CERN to work on the design of the laboratory’s computer network, developing procedures that allowed diverse computers to communicate with one another and researchers to control remote machines. In 1989 Berners-Lee drew up a proposal for creating a global hypertext document system that would make use of the Internet. His goal was to provide researchers with the ability to share their results, techniques, and practices without having to exchange e-mail constantly. Instead, researchers would place such information “online,” where their peers could immediately retrieve it anytime, day or night. Berners-Lee wrote the software for the first Web server (the central repository for the files to be shared) and the first Web client, or “browser” (the program to access and display files retrieved from the server), between October 1990 and the summer of 1991. The first “killer application” of the Web at CERN was the laboratory’s telephone directory—a mundane beginning for one of the technological wonders of the computer age.

From 1991 to 1993 Berners-Lee evangelized the Web. In 1994 in the United States he established the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Laboratory for Computer Science. The consortium, in consultation with others, lends oversight to the Web and the development of standards. In 1999 Berners-Lee became the first holder of the 3Com Founders chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science. His numerous other honours included the National Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Charles Stark Draper Prize (2007). Berners-Lee was the author, along with Mark Fischetti, of Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web (2000).


The World Wide Web of Tim Berners-Lee

In March, 1989, a physicist and a computer nerd in CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland), Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee (born 8 June 1955 in London), submitted to his boss a proposal for an information management system, the prototype of the now ubiquitous World Wide Web. The boss was not very impressed. Vague, but exciting, were the words that he wrote on the proposal, thus unofficially allowing Berners-Lee to continue his work on WWW (actually the term World Wide Web will be decided next year, in 1989 Berners-Lee called his system Mesh).

Berners-Lee had already an experience with hypertext systems, including his own. During his first stay in CERN, in 1980, inspired by the MEMEX of Vannevar Bush, Project Xanadu of Ted Nelson and NLS of Douglas Engelbart, he proposed a project for a new document system, based on the concept of hypertext, designed to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. The system was called ENQUIRE and was written in the Pascal programming language, using NORD-10 (16-bit minicomputer of Norsk Data, running under operating system SINTRAN III), later the program was ported to PC, then VMS (see the original proposal for ENQUIRE).

The inspiration of Berners-Lee came from the frustrating fact, that there was a lot of different data on different computers, but it was not connected at all. Because people at CERN came from universities all over the world, they brought with them all types of computers. Not just Unix, Mac and PC: there were all kinds of big mainframe computers and medium sized computers running all sorts of software. One had to log on to different computers to get at it, and even sometimes one had to learn a different program on each computer. So finding out how things worked was a really difficult task.

Berners-Lee wanted to wrote some programs to take information from one system and convert it, so it could be inserted into another system. More than once. The big question was: "Can’t we convert every information system so that it looks like part of some imaginary information system which everyone can read?" And that became the WWW.

In 1990, with the help of his colleague from CERN&mdashRobert Cailliau, Berners-Lee produced a revision of the system, which was accepted by his manager. Berners-Lee coded the first Web browser, which also functioned as an editor (the name of the program was WorldWideWeb, running on the NeXTSTEP operating system), and the first Web server, CERN HTTPd (short for HyperText Transfer Protocol daemon), both running on a NeXTcube workstation (see the images bellow).

The First Web Server and the first web browser

The first Web site in the world (with the DNS name info.cern.ch) built was put online on 6 August 1991.

In 1990s WWW gradually became the prevalent technology in Internet an a global information medium. Today, the Web and the Internet allow connectivity from literally everywhere on earth&mdasheven ships at sea and in outer space. In 2011 the number of web-sites exceeded 300 million. As of April, 2012, the Indexed Web contains at least 8.02 billion pages.

In the beginning of the century, new ideas for sharing and exchanging content ad hoc, such as Weblogs and RSS, rapidly gained acceptance on the Web. This new model for information exchange (called Web 2.0), primarily featuring DIY (Do It Yourself&mdashis a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals) user-edited and generated websites and various other content like video and audio media (YouTube), microblogging (Twitter), etc. Today, the internet is even used to purchase luxury items online like a Viking Yacht For Sale

What is the future of WWW? How will the next version&mdashWeb 3.0 look like?

The vision of Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the future Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange is connected with the term Semantic Web. In 1999 he wrote: "I have a dream for the Web in which computers become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web&mdashthe content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A Semantic Web, which should make this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The intelligent agents people have touted for ages will finally materialize. And later in 2006 he add: "People keep asking what Web 3.0 is. I think maybe when you’ve got an overlay of scalable vector graphics&mdasheverything rippling and folding and looking misty&mdashon Web 2.0 and access to a semantic Web integrated across a huge space of data, you’ll have access to an unbelievable data resource."

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Contents

The underlying concept of hypertext originated in previous projects from the 1960s, such as the Hypertext Editing System (HES) at Brown University, Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu, and Douglas Engelbart's oN-Line System (NLS). Both Nelson and Engelbart were in turn inspired by Vannevar Bush's microfilm-based memex, which was described in the 1945 essay "As We May Think". [12] Tim Berners-Lee's vision of a global hyperlinked information system became a possibility by the second half of the 1980s. [13] By 1985, the global Internet began to proliferate in Europe and the Domain Name System (upon which the Uniform Resource Locator is built) came into being. In 1988 the first direct IP connection between Europe and North America was made and Berners-Lee began to openly discuss the possibility of a web-like system at CERN. [14]

While working at CERN, Berners-Lee became frustrated with the inefficiencies and difficulties posed by finding information stored on different computers. [15] On 12 March 1989, he submitted a memorandum, titled "Information Management: A Proposal", [16] to the management at CERN for a system called "Mesh" that referenced ENQUIRE, a database and software project he had built in 1980, which used the term "web" and described a more elaborate information management system based on links embedded as text: "Imagine, then, the references in this document all being associated with the network address of the thing to which they referred, so that while reading this document, you could skip to them with a click of the mouse." Such a system, he explained, could be referred to using one of the existing meanings of the word hypertext, a term that he says was coined in the 1950s. There is no reason, the proposal continues, why such hypertext links could not encompass multimedia documents including graphics, speech and video, so that Berners-Lee goes on to use the term hypermedia. [17]

With help from his colleague and fellow hypertext enthusiast Robert Cailliau he published a more formal proposal on 12 November 1990 to build a "Hypertext project" called "WorldWideWeb" (one word, abbreviated 'W3') as a "web" of "hypertext documents" to be viewed by "browsers" using a client–server architecture. [18] [19] At this point HTML and HTTP had already been in development for about two months and the first Web server was about a month from completing its first successful test. This proposal estimated that a read-only web would be developed within three months and that it would take six months to achieve "the creation of new links and new material by readers, [so that] authorship becomes universal" as well as "the automatic notification of a reader when new material of interest to him/her has become available". While the read-only goal was met, accessible authorship of web content took longer to mature, with the wiki concept, WebDAV, blogs, Web 2.0 and RSS/Atom. [20]

The proposal was modelled after the SGML reader Dynatext by Electronic Book Technology, a spin-off from the Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship at Brown University. The Dynatext system, licensed by CERN, was a key player in the extension of SGML ISO 8879:1986 to Hypermedia within HyTime, but it was considered too expensive and had an inappropriate licensing policy for use in the general high energy physics community, namely a fee for each document and each document alteration. [ citation needed ] A NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee as the world's first web server and also to write the first web browser in 1990. By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: [21] the first web browser (WorldWideWeb, which was a web editor as well) and the first web server. The first website, [22] which described the project itself, was published on 20 December 1990. [23]

The first web page may be lost, but Paul Jones of UNC-Chapel Hill in North Carolina announced in May 2013 that Berners-Lee gave him what he says is the oldest known web page during a visit to UNC in 1991. Jones stored it on a magneto-optical drive and on his NeXT computer. [24] On 6 August 1991, Berners-Lee published a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the newsgroup alt.hypertext. [25] This date is sometimes confused with the public availability of the first web servers, which had occurred months earlier. As another example of such confusion, several news media reported that the first photo on the Web was published by Berners-Lee in 1992, an image of the CERN house band Les Horribles Cernettes taken by Silvano de Gennaro Gennaro has disclaimed this story, writing that media were "totally distorting our words for the sake of cheap sensationalism". [26]

The first server outside Europe was installed in December 1991 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Palo Alto, California, to host the SPIRES-HEP database. [27] [28] [29] [30]

Berners-Lee's breakthrough was to marry hypertext to the Internet. In his book Weaving The Web, he explains that he had repeatedly suggested to members of both technical communities that a marriage between the two technologies was possible. But, when no one took up his invitation, he finally assumed the project himself. In the process, he developed three essential technologies:

  • a system of globally unique identifiers for resources on the Web and elsewhere, the universal document identifier (UDI), later known as uniform resource locator (URL) and uniform resource identifier (URI)
  • the publishing language Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
  • the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). [31]

The World Wide Web had several differences from other hypertext systems available at the time. The Web required only unidirectional links rather than bidirectional ones, making it possible for someone to link to another resource without action by the owner of that resource. It also significantly reduced the difficulty of implementing web servers and browsers (in comparison to earlier systems), but in turn presented the chronic problem of link rot. Unlike predecessors such as HyperCard, the World Wide Web was non-proprietary, making it possible to develop servers and clients independently and to add extensions without licensing restrictions. On 30 April 1993, CERN announced that the World Wide Web would be free to anyone, with no fees due. [32] Coming two months after the announcement that the server implementation of the Gopher protocol was no longer free to use, this produced a rapid shift away from Gopher and toward the Web. An early popular web browser was ViolaWWW for Unix and the X Window System.

The Web began to enter general use in 1993-4, when websites for everyday use started to become available. [33] Historians generally agree that a turning point for the Web began with the 1993 introduction of Mosaic, [34] [35] a graphical web browser developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (NCSA-UIUC). The development was led by Marc Andreessen, while funding came from the US High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative and the High Performance Computing Act of 1991, one of several computing developments initiated by US Senator Al Gore. [36] Prior to the release of Mosaic, graphics were not commonly mixed with text in web pages, and the Web was less popular than older protocols such as Gopher and Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS). Mosaic's graphical user interface allowed the Web to become by far the most popular protocol on the Internet. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was founded by Tim Berners-Lee after he left the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in October 1994. It was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which had pioneered the Internet a year later, a second site was founded at INRIA (a French national computer research lab) with support from the European Commission DG InfSo and in 1996, a third continental site was created in Japan at Keio University. By the end of 1994, the total number of websites was still relatively small, but many notable websites were already active that foreshadowed or inspired today's most popular services.

Connected by the Internet, other websites were created around the world. This motivated international standards development for protocols and formatting. Berners-Lee continued to stay involved in guiding 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 use of the Internet. [37] Although the two terms are sometimes conflated in popular use, World Wide Web is not synonymous with Internet. [38] The Web is an information space containing hyperlinked documents and other resources, identified by their URIs. [39] It is implemented as both client and server software using Internet protocols such as TCP/IP and HTTP.

Berners-Lee was knighted in 2004 by Queen Elizabeth II for "services to the global development of the Internet". [40] [41] He never patented his invention.

The terms Internet and World Wide Web are often used without much distinction. However, the two terms do not mean the same thing. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. In contrast, the World Wide Web is a global collection of documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URIs. Web resources are accessed using HTTP or HTTPS, which are application-level Internet protocols that use the Internet's transport protocols. [42]

Viewing a web page on the World Wide Web normally begins either by typing the URL of the page into a web browser or by following a hyperlink to that page or resource. The web browser then initiates a series of background communication messages to fetch and display the requested page. In the 1990s, using a browser to view web pages—and to move from one web page to another through hyperlinks—came to be known as 'browsing,' 'web surfing' (after channel surfing), or 'navigating the Web'. Early studies of this new behaviour investigated user patterns in using web browsers. One study, for example, found five user patterns: exploratory surfing, window surfing, evolved surfing, bounded navigation and targeted navigation. [43]

The following example demonstrates the functioning of a web browser when accessing a page at the URL http://example.org/home.html . The browser resolves the server name of the URL ( example.org ) into an Internet Protocol address using the globally distributed Domain Name System (DNS). This lookup returns an IP address such as 203.0.113.4 or 2001:db8:2e::7334. The browser then requests the resource by sending an HTTP request across the Internet to the computer at that address. It requests service from a specific TCP port number that is well known for the HTTP service, so that the receiving host can distinguish an HTTP request from other network protocols it may be servicing. HTTP normally uses port number 80 and for HTTPS it normally uses port number 443. The content of the HTTP request can be as simple as two lines of text:

The computer receiving the HTTP request delivers it to web server software listening for requests on port 80. If the web server can fulfil the request it sends an HTTP response back to the browser indicating success:

followed by the content of the requested page. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for a basic web page might look like this:

The web browser parses the HTML and interprets the markup ( < title > , < p > for paragraph, and such) that surrounds the words to format the text on the screen. Many web pages use HTML to reference the URLs of other resources such as images, other embedded media, scripts that affect page behaviour, and Cascading Style Sheets that affect page layout. The browser makes additional HTTP requests to the web server for these other Internet media types. As it receives their content from the web server, the browser progressively renders the page onto the screen as specified by its HTML and these additional resources.

HTML Edit

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications. With Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript, it forms a triad of cornerstone technologies for the World Wide Web. [44]

Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document.

HTML elements are the building blocks of HTML pages. With HTML constructs, images and other objects such as interactive forms may be embedded into the rendered page. HTML provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. HTML elements are delineated by tags, written using angle brackets. Tags such as < img /> and < input /> directly introduce content into the page. Other tags such as < p > surround and provide information about document text and may include other tags as sub-elements. Browsers do not display the HTML tags, but use them to interpret the content of the page.

HTML can embed programs written in a scripting language such as JavaScript, which affects the behavior and content of web pages. Inclusion of CSS defines the look and layout of content. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), maintainer of both the HTML and the CSS standards, has encouraged the use of CSS over explicit presentational HTML since 1997. [update] [45]

Linking Edit

Most web pages contain hyperlinks to other related pages and perhaps to downloadable files, source documents, definitions and other web resources. In the underlying HTML, a hyperlink looks like this: < a href = "http://example.org/home.html" > Example.org Homepage </ a >

Such a collection of useful, related resources, interconnected via hypertext links is dubbed a web of information. Publication on the Internet created what Tim Berners-Lee first called the WorldWideWeb (in its original CamelCase, which was subsequently discarded) in November 1990. [18]

The hyperlink structure of the web is described by the webgraph: the nodes of the web graph correspond to the web pages (or URLs) the directed edges between them to the hyperlinks. Over time, many web resources pointed to by hyperlinks disappear, relocate, or are replaced with different content. This makes hyperlinks obsolete, a phenomenon referred to in some circles as link rot, and the hyperlinks affected by it are often called dead links. The ephemeral nature of the Web has prompted many efforts to archive web sites. The Internet Archive, active since 1996, is the best known of such efforts.

WWW prefix Edit

Many hostnames used for the World Wide Web begin with www because of the long-standing practice of naming Internet hosts according to the services they provide. The hostname of a web server is often www, in the same way that it may be ftp for an FTP server, and news or nntp for a Usenet news server. These host names appear as Domain Name System (DNS) or subdomain names, as in www.example.com. The use of www is not required by any technical or policy standard and many web sites do not use it the first web server was nxoc01.cern.ch. [46] According to Paolo Palazzi, [47] who worked at CERN along with Tim Berners-Lee, the popular use of www as subdomain was accidental the World Wide Web project page was intended to be published at www.cern.ch while info.cern.ch was intended to be the CERN home page, however the DNS records were never switched, and the practice of prepending www to an institution's website domain name was subsequently copied. Many established websites still use the prefix, or they employ other subdomain names such as www2, secure or en for special purposes. Many such web servers are set up so that both the main domain name (e.g., example.com) and the www subdomain (e.g., www.example.com) refer to the same site others require one form or the other, or they may map to different web sites. The use of a subdomain name is useful for load balancing incoming web traffic by creating a CNAME record that points to a cluster of web servers. Since, currently, only a subdomain can be used in a CNAME, the same result cannot be achieved by using the bare domain root. [48] [ dubious – discuss ]

When a user submits an incomplete domain name to a web browser in its address bar input field, some web browsers automatically try adding the prefix "www" to the beginning of it and possibly ".com", ".org" and ".net" at the end, depending on what might be missing. For example, entering 'microsoft' may be transformed to http://www.microsoft.com/ and 'openoffice' to http://www.openoffice.org. This feature started appearing in early versions of Firefox, when it still had the working title 'Firebird' in early 2003, from an earlier practice in browsers such as Lynx. [49] [ unreliable source? ] It is reported that Microsoft was granted a US patent for the same idea in 2008, but only for mobile devices. [50]

In English, www is usually read as double-u double-u double-u. [51] Some users pronounce it dub-dub-dub, particularly in New Zealand. Stephen Fry, in his "Podgrams" series of podcasts, pronounces it wuh wuh wuh. [52] The English writer Douglas Adams once quipped in The Independent on Sunday (1999): "The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for". [53] In Mandarin Chinese, World Wide Web is commonly translated via a phono-semantic matching to wàn wéi wǎng ( 万维网 ), which satisfies www and literally means "myriad dimensional net", [54] [ better source needed ] a translation that reflects the design concept and proliferation of the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee's web-space states that World Wide Web is officially spelled as three separate words, each capitalised, with no intervening hyphens. [55] Use of the www prefix has been declining, especially when Web 2.0 web applications sought to brand their domain names and make them easily pronounceable. [56] As the mobile Web grew in popularity, services like Gmail.com, Outlook.com, Myspace.com, Facebook.com and Twitter.com are most often mentioned without adding "www." (or, indeed, ".com") to the domain.

Scheme specifiers Edit

The scheme specifiers http:// and https:// at the start of a web URI refer to Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP Secure, respectively. They specify the communication protocol to use for the request and response. The HTTP protocol is fundamental to the operation of the World Wide Web, and the added encryption layer in HTTPS is essential when browsers send or retrieve confidential data, such as passwords or banking information. Web browsers usually automatically prepend http:// to user-entered URIs, if omitted.

Pages Edit

A web page (also written as webpage) is a document that is suitable for the World Wide Web and web browsers. A web browser displays a web page on a monitor or mobile device.

The term web page usually refers to what is visible, but may also refer to the contents of the computer file itself, which is usually a text file containing hypertext written in HTML or a comparable markup language. Typical web pages provide hypertext for browsing to other web pages via hyperlinks, often referred to as links. Web browsers will frequently have to access multiple web resource elements, such as reading style sheets, scripts, and images, while presenting each web page.

On a network, a web browser can retrieve a web page from a remote web server. The web server may restrict access to a private network such as a corporate intranet. The web browser uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to make such requests to the web server.

A static web page is delivered exactly as stored, as web content in the web server's file system. In contrast, a dynamic web page is generated by a web application, usually driven by server-side software. Dynamic web pages are used when each user may require completely different information, for example, bank websites, web email etc.

Static page Edit

A static web page (sometimes called a flat page/stationary page) is a web page that is delivered to the user exactly as stored, in contrast to dynamic web pages which are generated by a web application.

Consequently, a static web page displays the same information for all users, from all contexts, subject to modern capabilities of a web server to negotiate content-type or language of the document where such versions are available and the server is configured to do so.

Dynamic pages Edit

A server-side dynamic web page is a web page whose construction is controlled by an application server processing server-side scripts. In server-side scripting, parameters determine how the assembly of every new web page proceeds, including the setting up of more client-side processing.

A client-side dynamic web page processes the web page using HTML scripting running in the browser as it loads. JavaScript and other scripting languages determine the way the HTML in the received page is parsed into the Document Object Model, or DOM, that represents the loaded web page. The same client-side techniques can then dynamically update or change the DOM in the same way.

A dynamic web page is then reloaded by the user or by a computer program to change some variable content. The updating information could come from the server, or from changes made to that page's DOM. This may or may not truncate the browsing history or create a saved version to go back to, but a dynamic web page update using Ajax technologies will neither create a page to go back to, nor truncate the web browsing history forward of the displayed page. Using Ajax technologies the end user gets one dynamic page managed as a single page in the web browser while the actual web content rendered on that page can vary. The Ajax engine sits only on the browser requesting parts of its DOM, the DOM, for its client, from an application server.

Dynamic HTML, or DHTML, is the umbrella term for technologies and methods used to create web pages that are not static web pages, though it has fallen out of common use since the popularization of AJAX, a term which is now itself rarely used. [ citation needed ] Client-side-scripting, server-side scripting, or a combination of these make for the dynamic web experience in a browser.

JavaScript is a scripting language that was initially developed in 1995 by Brendan Eich, then of Netscape, for use within web pages. [57] The standardised version is ECMAScript. [57] To make web pages more interactive, some web applications also use JavaScript techniques such as Ajax (asynchronous JavaScript and XML). Client-side script is delivered with the page that can make additional HTTP requests to the server, either in response to user actions such as mouse movements or clicks, or based on elapsed time. The server's responses are used to modify the current page rather than creating a new page with each response, so the server needs only to provide limited, incremental information. Multiple Ajax requests can be handled at the same time, and users can interact with the page while data is retrieved. Web pages may also regularly poll the server to check whether new information is available. [58]

Website Edit

A website [59] is a collection of related web resources including web pages, multimedia content, typically identified with a common domain name, and published on at least one web server. Notable examples are wikipedia.org, google.com, and amazon.com.

A website may be accessible via a public Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the Internet, or a private local area network (LAN), by referencing a uniform resource locator (URL) that identifies the site.

Websites can have many functions and can be used in various fashions a website can be a personal website, a corporate website for a company, a government website, an organization website, etc. Websites are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose, ranging from entertainment and social networking to providing news and education. All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web, while private websites, such as a company's website for its employees, are typically a part of an intranet.

Web pages, which are the building blocks of websites, are documents, typically composed in plain text interspersed with formatting instructions of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML, XHTML). They may incorporate elements from other websites with suitable markup anchors. Web pages are accessed and transported with the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), which may optionally employ encryption (HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user. The user's application, often a web browser, renders the page content according to its HTML markup instructions onto a display terminal.

Hyperlinking between web pages conveys to the reader the site structure and guides the navigation of the site, which often starts with a home page containing a directory of the site web content. Some websites require user registration or subscription to access content. Examples of subscription websites include many business sites, news websites, academic journal websites, gaming websites, file-sharing websites, message boards, web-based email, social networking websites, websites providing real-time stock market data, as well as sites providing various other services. End users can access websites on a range of devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and smart TVs.

Browser Edit

A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software user agent for accessing information on the World Wide Web. To connect to a website's server and display its pages, a user needs to have a web browser program. This is the program that the user runs to download, format and display a web page on the user's computer.

In addition to allowing users to find, displaying and moving between web pages, a web browser will usually have features like keeping bookmarks, recording history, managing cookies (see below) and home pages and may have facilities for recording passwords for logging into web sites.

Server Edit

A Web server is server software, or hardware dedicated to running said software, that can satisfy World Wide Web client requests. A web server can, in general, contain one or more websites. A web server processes incoming network requests over HTTP and several other related protocols.

The primary function of a web server is to store, process and deliver web pages to clients. [60] The communication between client and server takes place using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Pages delivered are most frequently HTML documents, which may include images, style sheets and scripts in addition to the text content.

A user agent, commonly a web browser or web crawler, initiates communication by making a request for a specific resource using HTTP and the server responds with the content of that resource or an error message if unable to do so. The resource is typically a real file on the server's secondary storage, but this is not necessarily the case and depends on how the web server is implemented.

While the primary function is to serve content, a full implementation of HTTP also includes ways of receiving content from clients. This feature is used for submitting web forms, including uploading of files.

Many generic web servers also support server-side scripting using Active Server Pages (ASP), PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), or other scripting languages. This means that the behaviour of the web server can be scripted in separate files, while the actual server software remains unchanged. Usually, this function is used to generate HTML documents dynamically ("on-the-fly") as opposed to returning static documents. The former is primarily used for retrieving or modifying information from databases. The latter is typically much faster and more easily cached but cannot deliver dynamic content.

Web servers can also frequently be found embedded in devices such as printers, routers, webcams and serving only a local network. The web server may then be used as a part of a system for monitoring or administering the device in question. This usually means that no additional software has to be installed on the client computer since only a web browser is required (which now is included with most operating systems).

Cookie Edit

An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user's computer by the user's web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user's browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.

Cookies perform essential functions in the modern web. Perhaps most importantly, authentication cookies are the most common method used by web servers to know whether the user is logged in or not, and which account they are logged in with. Without such a mechanism, the site would not know whether to send a page containing sensitive information, or require the user to authenticate themselves by logging in. The security of an authentication cookie generally depends on the security of the issuing website and the user's web browser, and on whether the cookie data is encrypted. Security vulnerabilities may allow a cookie's data to be read by a hacker, used to gain access to user data, or used to gain access (with the user's credentials) to the website to which the cookie belongs (see cross-site scripting and cross-site request forgery for examples). [61]

Tracking cookies, and especially third-party tracking cookies, are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals' browsing histories – a potential privacy concern that prompted European [62] and U.S. lawmakers to take action in 2011. [63] [64] European law requires that all websites targeting European Union member states gain "informed consent" from users before storing non-essential cookies on their device.

Google Project Zero researcher Jann Horn describes ways cookies can be read by intermediaries, like Wi-Fi hotspot providers. He recommends to use the browser in incognito mode in such circumstances. [65]

Search engine Edit

A web search engine or Internet search engine is a software system that is designed to carry out web search (Internet search), which means to search the World Wide Web in a systematic way for particular information specified in a web search query. The search results are generally presented in a line of results, often referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs). The information may be a mix of web pages, images, videos, infographics, articles, research papers and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Unlike web directories, which are maintained only by human editors, search engines also maintain real-time information by running an algorithm on a web crawler. Internet content that is not capable of being searched by a web search engine is generally described as the deep web.

Deep web Edit

The deep web, [66] invisible web, [67] or hidden web [68] are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard web search engines. The opposite term to the deep web is the surface web, which is accessible to anyone using the Internet. [69] Computer scientist Michael K. Bergman is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as a search indexing term. [70]

The content of the deep web is hidden behind HTTP forms, [71] [72] and includes many very common uses such as web mail, online banking, and services that users must pay for, and which is protected by a paywall, such as video on demand, some online magazines and newspapers, among others.

The content of the deep web can be located and accessed by a direct URL or IP address, and may require a password or other security access past the public website page.

Caching Edit

A web cache is a server computer located either on the public Internet, or within an enterprise that stores recently accessed web pages to improve response time for users when the same content is requested within a certain time after the original request. Most web browsers also implement a browser cache by writing recently obtained data to a local data storage device. HTTP requests by a browser may ask only for data that has changed since the last access. Web pages and resources may contain expiration information to control caching to secure sensitive data, such as in online banking, or to facilitate frequently updated sites, such as news media. Even sites with highly dynamic content may permit basic resources to be refreshed only occasionally. Web site designers find it worthwhile to collate resources such as CSS data and JavaScript into a few site-wide files so that they can be cached efficiently. Enterprise firewalls often cache Web resources requested by one user for the benefit of many users. Some search engines store cached content of frequently accessed websites.

For criminals, the Web has become a venue to spread malware and engage in a range of cybercrimes, including (but not limited to) identity theft, fraud, espionage and intelligence gathering. [73] Web-based vulnerabilities now outnumber traditional computer security concerns, [74] [75] and as measured by Google, about one in ten web pages may contain malicious code. [76] Most web-based attacks take place on legitimate websites, and most, as measured by Sophos, are hosted in the United States, China and Russia. [77] The most common of all malware threats is SQL injection attacks against websites. [78] Through HTML and URIs, the Web was vulnerable to attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS) that came with the introduction of JavaScript [79] and were exacerbated to some degree by Web 2.0 and Ajax web design that favours the use of scripts. [80] Today by one estimate, 70% of all websites are open to XSS attacks on their users. [81] Phishing is another common threat to the Web. In February 2013, RSA (the security division of EMC) estimated the global losses from phishing at $1.5 billion in 2012. [82] Two of the well-known phishing methods are Covert Redirect and Open Redirect.

Proposed solutions vary. Large security companies like McAfee already design governance and compliance suites to meet post-9/11 regulations, [83] and some, like Finjan have recommended active real-time inspection of programming code and all content regardless of its source. [73] Some have argued that for enterprises to see Web security as a business opportunity rather than a cost centre, [84] while others call for "ubiquitous, always-on digital rights management" enforced in the infrastructure to replace the hundreds of companies that secure data and networks. [85] Jonathan Zittrain has said users sharing responsibility for computing safety is far preferable to locking down the Internet. [86]

Every time a client requests a web page, the server can identify the request's IP address. Web servers usually log IP addresses in a log file. Also, unless set not to do so, most web browsers record requested web pages in a viewable history feature, and usually cache much of the content locally. Unless the server-browser communication uses HTTPS encryption, web requests and responses travel in plain text across the Internet and can be viewed, recorded, and cached by intermediate systems. Another way to hide personally identifiable information is by using a virtual private network. A VPN encrypts online traffic and masks the original IP address lowering the chance of user identification.

When a web page asks for, and the user supplies, personally identifiable information—such as their real name, address, e-mail address, etc. web-based entities can associate current web traffic with that individual. If the website uses HTTP cookies, username, and password authentication, or other tracking techniques, it can relate other web visits, before and after, to the identifiable information provided. In this way, it is possible for a web-based organization to develop and build a profile of the individual people who use its site or sites. It may be able to build a record for an individual that includes information about their leisure activities, their shopping interests, their profession, and other aspects of their demographic profile. These profiles are obviously of potential interest to marketers, advertisers, and others. Depending on the website's terms and conditions and the local laws that apply information from these profiles may be sold, shared, or passed to other organizations without the user being informed. For many ordinary people, this means little more than some unexpected e-mails in their in-box or some uncannily relevant advertising on a future web page. For others, it can mean that time spent indulging an unusual interest can result in a deluge of further targeted marketing that may be unwelcome. Law enforcement, counter-terrorism, and espionage agencies can also identify, target, and track individuals based on their interests or proclivities on the Web.

Social networking sites usually try to get users to use their real names, interests, and locations, rather than pseudonyms, as their executives believe that this makes the social networking experience more engaging for users. On the other hand, uploaded photographs or unguarded statements can be identified to an individual, who may regret this exposure. Employers, schools, parents, and other relatives may be influenced by aspects of social networking profiles, such as text posts or digital photos, that the posting individual did not intend for these audiences. Online bullies may make use of personal information to harass or stalk users. Modern social networking websites allow fine-grained control of the privacy settings for each individual posting, but these can be complex and not easy to find or use, especially for beginners. [87] Photographs and videos posted onto websites have caused particular problems, as they can add a person's face to an on-line profile. With modern and potential facial recognition technology, it may then be possible to relate that face with other, previously anonymous, images, events and scenarios that have been imaged elsewhere. Due to image caching, mirroring, and copying, it is difficult to remove an image from the World Wide Web.

Web standards include many interdependent standards and specifications, some of which govern aspects of the Internet, not just the World Wide Web. Even when not web-focused, such standards directly or indirectly affect the development and administration of web sites and web services. Considerations include the interoperability, accessibility and usability of web pages and web sites.

Web standards, in the broader sense, consist of the following:

  • Recommendations published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [88]
  • "Living Standard" made by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG)
  • Request for Comments (RFC) documents published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) [89]
  • Standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) [90]
  • Standards published by Ecma International (formerly ECMA) [91]
  • The Unicode Standard and various Unicode Technical Reports (UTRs) published by the Unicode Consortium[92]
  • Name and number registries maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) [93]

Web standards are not fixed sets of rules, but are a constantly evolving set of finalized technical specifications of web technologies. [94] Web standards are developed by standards organizations—groups of interested and often competing parties chartered with the task of standardization—not technologies developed and declared to be a standard by a single individual or company. It is crucial to distinguish those specifications that are under development from the ones that already reached the final development status (in case of W3C specifications, the highest maturity level).

There are methods for accessing the Web in alternative mediums and formats to facilitate use by individuals with disabilities. These disabilities may be visual, auditory, physical, speech-related, cognitive, neurological, or some combination. Accessibility features also help people with temporary disabilities, like a broken arm, or ageing users as their abilities change. [95] The Web receives information as well as providing information and interacting with society. The World Wide Web Consortium claims that it is essential that the Web be accessible, so it can provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. [96] Tim Berners-Lee once noted, "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." [95] Many countries regulate web accessibility as a requirement for websites. [97] International co-operation in the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative led to simple guidelines that web content authors as well as software developers can use to make the Web accessible to persons who may or may not be using assistive technology. [95] [98]

The W3C Internationalisation Activity assures that web technology works in all languages, scripts, and cultures. [99] Beginning in 2004 or 2005, Unicode gained ground and eventually in December 2007 surpassed both ASCII and Western European as the Web's most frequently used character encoding. [100] Originally RFC 3986 allowed resources to be identified by URI in a subset of US-ASCII. 3987 allows more characters—any character in the Universal Character Set—and now a resource can be identified by IRI in any language. [101]


4 Things You Might Not Have Known About the World Wide Web's Inventor

I f you’ve ever used a hyperlink &mdash a bit of typically underlined online text like this that, when clicked, helpfully takes you to another website or document &mdash you should thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a Briton who on this date 24 years ago first proposed an idea he called at the time “WorldWideWeb.”

“HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will,” Berners-Lee and Belgian computer scientist Robert Cailliau wrote in the Nov. 12, 1990, proposal for what would become the World Wide Web.

The Web has since become such a dominant means of sharing information over the Internet that many people don’t know there’s a difference between the two. (That difference? The Internet is a network of networks, a way for a handful of computers connected to one another to share data with billions of other such networks worldwide, while the Web is a hypertext-based information-sharing system that runs atop the Internet, literally and figuratively linking websites to one another.)

It took TIME seven years after Berners-Lee first proposed the web to write a profile of him. Here are four fun facts from that May 19, 1997, piece:

1. He credits his status as “inventor of the World Wide Web” to random chance. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I happened to have the right combination of background,” Berners-Lee said of the reasons he wrote the proposal, which he made while working at Switzerland’s CERN nuclear research facility and trying to connect the organization’s resources.

2. Those 404 “Website Not Found” pages are a necessary evil. Earlier hypertext arrangements kept a record of every single link in the system to avoid “dangling links” &mdash links pointing to nothing. But creating the Web at scale meant users would have to be able to delete documents without telling every single other user about the deletion, even if that document was being linked to from elsewhere. Berners-Lee “realized that this dangling-link thing may be a problem, but you have to accept it.”

3. He also hated how hard it once was to write on the Web. “The Web . . . is this thing where you click around to read,” Berners-Lee said, but if you want to write, “you have to go through this procedure.” That’s much less true now in 2014, with services like WordPress, Blogspot and social media making it dead simple to share your writing and other creativity online.

4. He played with the idea of starting a company to make a browser, a move that would’ve set him up to compete with the likes of Mosaic and perhaps make him rich. But he feared sparking a war between incompatible browsers and permanently dividing the web. “The world is full of moments when one might be other things,” Berners-Lee said. “One is the decisions one’s taken.” Meanwhile, Marc Andreessen, coauthor of the Mosaic browser, later cofounded Netscape and has since become a wealthy and outspoken tech investor.


World Wide Web Foundation

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist. He was born in London, and his parents were early computer scientists, working on one of the earliest computers.

Growing up, Sir Tim was interested in trains and had a model railway in his bedroom. He recalls:

“I made some electronic gadgets to control the trains. Then I ended up getting more interested in electronics than trains. Later on, when I was in college I made a computer out of an old television set.”

After graduating from Oxford University, Berners-Lee became a software engineer at CERN, the large particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists come from all over the world to use its accelerators, but Sir Tim noticed that they were having difficulty sharing information.

“In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it. Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee…”, Tim says.

Tim thought he saw a way to solve this problem – one that he could see could also have much broader applications. Already, millions of computers were being connected together through the fast-developing internet and Berners-Lee realised they could share information by exploiting an emerging technology called hypertext.

In March 1989, Tim laid out his vision for what would become the web in a document called “Information Management: A Proposal”. Believe it or not, Tim’s initial proposal was not immediately accepted. In fact, his boss at the time, Mike Sendall, noted the words “Vague but exciting” on the cover. The web was never an official CERN project, but Mike managed to give Tim time to work on it in September 1990. He began work using a NeXT computer, one of Steve Jobs’ early products.

Tim’s original proposal. Image: CERN

By October of 1990, Tim had written the three fundamental technologies that remain the foundation of today’s web (and which you may have seen appear on parts of your web browser):

  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The markup (formatting) language for the web.
  • URI: Uniform Resource Identifier. A kind of “address” that is unique and used to identify to each resource on the web. It is also commonly called a URL.
  • HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the web.

Tim also wrote the first web page editor/browser (“WorldWideWeb.app”) and the first web server (“httpd“). By the end of 1990, the first web page was served on the open internet, and in 1991, people outside of CERN were invited to join this new web community.

As the web began to grow, Tim realised that its true potential would only be unleashed if anyone, anywhere could use it without paying a fee or having to ask for permission.

He explains: “Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

So, Tim and others advocated to ensure that CERN would agree to make the underlying code available on a royalty-free basis, forever. This decision was announced in April 1993, and sparked a global wave of creativity, collaboration and innovation never seen before. In 2003, the companies developing new web standards committed to a Royalty Free Policy for their work. In 2014, the year we celebrated the web’s 25th birthday, almost two in five people around the world were using it.

Tim moved from CERN to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 to found the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community devoted to developing open web standards. He remains the Director of W3C to this day.

The early web community produced some revolutionary ideas that are now spreading far beyond the technology sector:

  • Decentralisation: No permission is needed from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure … and no “kill switch”! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.
  • Non-discrimination: If I pay to connect to the internet with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or a greater quality of service, then we can both communicate at the same level. This principle of equity is also known as Net Neutrality.
  • Bottom-up design: Instead of code being written and controlled by a small group of experts, it was developed in full view of everyone, encouraging maximum participation and experimentation.
  • Universality: For anyone to be able to publish anything on the web, all the computers involved have to speak the same languages to each other, no matter what different hardware people are using where they live or what cultural and political beliefs they have. In this way, the web breaks down silos while still allowing diversity to flourish.
  • Consensus: For universal standards to work, everyone had to agree to use them. Tim and others achieved this consensus by giving everyone a say in creating the standards, through a transparent, participatory process at W3C.

New permutations of these ideas are giving rise to exciting new approaches in fields as diverse as information (Open Data), politics (Open Government), scientific research (Open Access), education, and culture (Free Culture). But to date we have only scratched the surface of how these principles could change society and politics for the better.

In 2009, Sir Tim co-founded the World Wide Web Foundation with Rosemary Leith. The Web Foundation is fighting for the web we want: a web that is safe, empowering and for everyone.

Please do explore our site and our work. We hope you’ll be inspired by our vision and decide to take action. Remember, as Tim tweeted during the Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2012, “This is for Everyone”.

Important Note: This text is intended as a brief introduction to the history of the web. For a more detailed account, you might want to consider reading:


Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, And Invention of The World Wide Web

During some sessions in the CERN cafeteria, Tim and I try to find a catching name for the system. I was determined that the name should not yet again be taken from Greek mythology. Tim proposes ‘World-Wide Web’. I like this very much, except that it is difficult to pronounce in French.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the web with help from Robert Cailliau and others at the nuclear physics laboratory Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (CERN).

The development of the web was the key technology that popularized the Internet around the world. The subsections below provide more information on Berners-Lee, CERN, Cailliau, web development, and resources.

Berners-Lee. Tim Berners-Lee’s mother and father were both mathematicians who were part of the team that programmed Manchester University’s Mark I, the world’s first commercial, stored-program computer, sold by Ferranti Ltd. One day when he was in high school Berners-Lee found his dad writing a speech on computers for Basil de Ferranti. Father and son talked about how the human brain has a unique advantage over computers, since it can connect concepts that aren’t already associated. For example, if you are walking and see a nice tree, you might think about how cool the park is under the trees, and then think of your backyard, and then decide to plant a tree for shade behind your house. Young Berners-Lee was left with a powerful impression of the potential for computers to be able to link any two pieces of previously unrelated information.

Berners-Lee graduated from Queen’s College at Oxford University in 1976 with a degree in physics. He then worked for two years as a software engineer with Plessey Telecommunications on distributed systems, message relays, and barcoding. He then joined D.G. Nash, where he developed a multitasking operating system, and typesetting software for intelligent printers.

CERN. In 1980, Berners-Lee first started work as a consultant at CERN, originally called the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire, and now the European Particle Physics Laboratory, but still called CERN for old time’s sake. The organization consists of many facilities located in a beautiful area in the Jura mountains on the border between France and Switzerland. It was because CERN was so large and complex, with thousands of researchers and hundreds of systems, that Berners-Lee developed his first hypertext system to keep track of who worked on which project, what software was associated with which program, and which software ran on which computers. Like the development of packet switching, hyperlinks are an idea that seemed to want to be found, with Berners-Lee independently developing his ideas within five years of Ted Nelson and Douglas Engelbart.

Berners-Lee named his first hypertext system Enquire, after an old book, he found as a child in his parent’s house called Enquire Within upon Everything which provided a range of household tips and advice. The book fascinated young Tim with the suggestion that it magically contained the answer to any problem in the world. With the building of the Enquire system in 1980, and then the Web ten years later, Berners-Lee has pretty much successfully dedicated his life to making that childhood book real. He is, for all intents are purposes, the reason websites like BroadbandNow exist today.

From 1981 to 1984, Berners-Lee left CERN and worked at Image Computer Systems as Technical Design Lead, with responsibility for real-time, graphics, and communications software for an innovative software program that enabled older dot-matrix printers to print a wide range of advanced graphics. He then rejoined CERN full-time in 1984, and almost immediately started trying to get a hypertext project approved for official funding. In March 1989, he completed a project proposal for a system to communicate information among researchers in the CERN High Energy Physics department, intended to help those having problems sharing information across a wide range of different networks, computers, and countries. The project had two main goals:

  • Open design. Like Robert Kahn‘s design for TCP/IP, the hypertext system should have an open architecture, and be able to run on any computer being used at CERN including Unix, VMS, Macintosh, NextStep, and Windows.
  • Network distribution. The system should be distributed over a communications network. However, Berners-Lee thought that there might be an intermediary period when most of the research material was carried on individual CDROM’s, which never became necessary.

Cailliau. Robert Cailliau had independently proposed a project to develop a hypertext system at CERN, and joined Berners-Lee as a partner in his efforts to get the web off the ground. He rewrote the project proposal, lobbied management for funding, rounded up programmers, collaborated with Berners-Lee on papers and presentations, and helped run the first WWW conference. Cailliau later became President of the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2).

Web development. In the fall of 1990, Berners-Lee took about a month to develop the first web browser on a NeXT computer, including an integrated editor that could create hypertext documents. He deployed the program on his and Cailliau’s computers, and they were both communicating with the world’s first web server at info.cern.ch on December 25, 1990.

The first project Berners-Lee and Cailliau tackled was to put the CERN telephone book on the web site, making the project immediately useful and gaining its rapid acceptance. Some CERN staff started keeping one window open on their computer at all times just to access the telephone web page.

Luckily, CERN had been connected to the ARPANET through the EUnet in 1990. In August 1991, Tim posted a notice on the alt.hypertext newsgroup about where to download their web server and line-mode browser, making it available around the world. Web servers started popping up around the globe almost immediately. An official Usenet 8 newsgroup called comp.infosystems.www was soon established to share info.

Berners-Lee then added support for the FTP protocol to the server, making a wide range of existing FTP directories and Usenet newsgroups immediately accessible through a web page. He also added a telnet server on info.cern.ch, making a simple line browser available to anyone with a telnet client. The first public demonstration of the web server was given at the Hypertext 91 conference. Development of this web server, which came to be called CERN httpd, would continue until July, 1996.

In June, 1992, CERN sent Berners-Lee on a three month trip through the United States. First he visited MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science, then went to an IETF conference in Boston, then visited Xerox-Parc in Palo Alto, California. At the end of this trip he visited Ted Nelson, then living on a houseboat in Sausalito. Interestingly, Nelson had experience with film making, Berners-Lee had experience working with lighting and audiovisual equipment in the amateur theater, and Tom Bruce, who created the first PC web browser called Cello, also worked professionally as a stage manager in the theater. Maybe these Internet techies are all really just artists at heart…

In a fateful decision that significantly helped the web to grow, Berners-Lee managed to get CERN to provide a certification on April 30, 1993, that the web technology and program code was in the public domain so that anyone could use and improve it.

In 1994, Berners-Lee joined the Laboratory for Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he currently holds the 3Com Founders Chair, and has served as Director of the W3C Consortium since it was founded. Berners-Lee has also authored a number of web related documents, including those in the HTML and HTTP sections.

Among other awards and honours, in December, 1993, Berners-Lee and Cailliau shared the ACM Software System Award with Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina of NCSA for their efforts in developing the Web.

He was awarded the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of the Arts in 2002 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and dubbed a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II on July 16, 2004, using the sword that had belonged to her father, King George VI.

Also in 2004, he was awarded the inaugural Millennium Technology Prize in Helsinki, Finland.

Resources. Some of Berners-Lee’s online publications are listed below:


Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee was the man leading the development of the World Wide Web (with help of course), the defining of HTML (hypertext markup language) used to create web pages, HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), and URLs (Universal Resource Locators). All of those developments took place between 1989 and 1991.

Tim Berners-Lee was born in London, England and graduated in Physics from Oxford University in 1976. He is currently the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, the group that sets technical standards for the web.

Besides Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf is also named as an internet daddy. Ten years out of high school, Vinton Cerf began co-designing and co-developing the protocols and structure of what became the internet.