Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Vague but exciting – 20 Years of WWW

The world was different 20 years ago. German radio reported these days that many teenagers have only a vague idea that back then, Germany was cut in half by a daunting wall. On a lighter note, today's kids may also have difficulties to imagine that there was no WorldWideWeb at that time.

But can you believe it? The beginnings of the wonderfully worldwide web go back to the time when the Iron Curtain was still dividing Europe.

In March 1989, English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, then working at CERN, had set himself a bold task. As he had noted, Many of the discussions of the future at CERN and the LHC era end with the question - "Yes, but how will we ever keep track of such a large project?". So, he prepared a proposal to provide[] an answer to such questions. He introduced the idea of linked information systems and suggested steps we should take to involve ourselves with hypertext now.

His boss, Mike Sendall, sympathetically judged these ideas as ‘vague, but exciting’, and Tim Berners-Lee was allowed to continue following his vision. With the help of his colleague Robert Cailliau and a few students, he created the World Wide Web, designed and built the first web browser, and developed and started the first Web server, CERN HTTPd.

The rest is history.


  1. Ah yes, here is a case where something developed, can removed borders from our societies.

    Oh for sure, Countries can still censor and control its population, by controlling information dissemination.

    According to their "own ideal."

    So in that case, while up front, we see only what the authoritarian will allow one to see.

    The idea then in my mind is to open all borders as if taking down walls, so that messaging and ideas can be circulated throughout the populations.

    Universal healthcare.

    Ulterior motives and agendas confronted in developing an economy would be far exceeded in an agenda that would be part and parcel simply explained in qualitative status under the premise of Noether's position.

    Under democracies, within those same borders, extenuated to all surrounding areas in trade zones.

    These cannot be initiated by business and controlled by them? Centralize then into conglomerates? What then becomes the "ideal state" then of a one world government under that pretense?

    It is amazing then that distances can be reduced so drastically to expedite information exchange to see that the well developed countries reach into those underdeveloped, to allow its citizens the same access to information that we do.

    Tim Berner-Lees speech then becomes of substance as to what is revealed in a town. IN a country, that is under developed. Has access to information, free of indenture and control, and allows then the chance to develop.

    Such deprivation exists in our own populations in terms of the classes of distinction, with those that have and those that do not.

    This then requires one to promote a universal system that allows all citizens of the planet, access to information.


  2. Tim's proactive empowerment was starting each URL with an abbreviation that pronounced three times as long as its full name.

  3. Very altruistic but lousy PR - I often wish they had insisted on a CERN logo (About..)on all browsers to draw young people's attention to the fact that the web that is the ultimate spin-off of pure scienctific investigation - might even get them interested in particle physics....

  4. Hi Cormac,

    indeed... in this respect, CERN could have done better ;-)

    I was fascinated to see the LHC mentioned as a main motivation in the proposal of the WWW back in 1989! And on the historical screenshots of Tim Berners-Lee's original NeXT browser from in 1993, you can see a list of the LHC experiments, ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, and a plan of the ATLAS detector!

    Cheers, Stefan

  5. Hi Bee & Stefan,

    For me this article is like a stole down memory lane as I was one of those early (Joe public) online people. I bought my first serious computer in 1986, being an Atari 1040 ST , which with the aid of several upgrades and add ons gave me 9 years of service, which included my early pre-internet modems which accessed only personal bulletin boards and then truly online in 1992 with CompuServe before the world wide web hit the scene. Then first also with CompuServe onto the WWW in its beginnings and as you said the rest is history.

    I must say however that with all that has been gained over those years there has been also much lost with its increased commercialization. In truth one of the things I liked when first discovering this blog is it still has some of that early spirit that came with those first beginnings. So although I did not contribute like Tim Berners-Lee who were among those who first blazed the trails, I do feel very much as being one of those first pioneers that followed those trails that they so uniquely imagined to inspire and create.



  6. Hi Bee and Stefan,

    what is it, day minus five ? minus six ? I want to be the first to congratulate you for reaching the significant goal of a million clicks!!!

    Terrific job, and please keep going!


  7. Nice post.
    Arpanet is always presented as the beginning of Internet! So thanks for pointing this out.


  8. Hi Tommaso,

    We have on the average 1,000 visits per day, so it's day -12 or so. Best,



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