World Wide Web turns 25 – how it all started

www-25th-anniversaryCan we imagine a world without Google, Facebook and moreover shopping online? Twenty five years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist proposed the idea of World Wide Web. The idea was to outline a way to easily access files on linked computers – which sounds like a piece of cake today.

He presented the paper on March 12, 1989 which history has marked as the birthday of the Web – not to be confused with the internet.

When Tim first submitted his idea, while working at the Swiss physics lab CERN, his boss wrote on top of the proposal that the idea is “Vague, but exciting.”

The US military began studying the idea of connected computers in 1950 and launched ARPANET in 1969. But it was still another idea among several others to spend millions just for the sake of connecting the general public. Berners-Lee convinced CERN to adopt his system demonstrating its usefulness by compiling a lab phone book into an online index. A key aspect of the design was that it worked across various operating systems.

He went on to designing the idea into and developing it into a revolution that has changed the lives of millions. Today two out of five people in the world are connected.

The idea was basically developed to meet the demand of information sharing between two users. Other information retrieval systems like WAIS and Gopher – were however available at the time, but since web was made available royalty free – it witnessed a rapid adoption worldwide. In 1991 world wide web was launched publicly and Berners-Lee published details of the project on the internet.

By late 1993 there were more than 500 known web servers and WWW accounted for 1% of the internet traffic. Two decades later the number has grown to somewhere around 630 million websites and for that we say Happy Birthday!

The author can be reached at devesh@iamwire.com

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