Happy 21st Birthday World Wide Web! – (August 6, 2012)
21 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee publicly released his WWW project onto the Internet.
“On August 6, 1991, he [TBL] posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup. This date also marked the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet.” – Wikipedia
It was on this date that HTTP, HTML and the concept of URLs were introduced to the internet thus enabling it to become the internet we know and love today. Sir Timothy Burners-Lee is generally considered/recognized as the inventor of the “World Wide Web” which is different than the internet which has existed in different forms since the 60’s.
Additionally, Tim Berners-Lee made available the first Web browser – “prototype (very alpha test) simple line mode browser” – and the first hypertext editor.
“The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system.” Tim Burners-Lee
In a world where we celebrate the inventions that change our lives, it is incredible how little we have considered this particular invention that affects us and our world so profoundly. We recognize Henry Ford for the invention of the automobile assembly line much more often than we consider the origins of the modern automobile (Karl Benz – 1886) We do so because it was the proliferation of the automobile into common society that changed the way we live our lives and shape the world around us.
Sir Tim Burners-Lee did the same for the internet, making it more accessible via a common language and protocol set. Without the unifying elements of the World Wide Web, the internet today would likely be fragmented, made up of computer firms and ISPs battling it out over proprietary networks and technologies. Perhaps progress may have been faster in some areas but it is unlikely that the benefits would have been universal in nature.
So, now, the World Wide Web is 21. Our friend and confidant, the web has been privy and keeper of the ongoing history of man for 21 years. It is witness to the brightest and darkest of human nature. Internationally recognized as an adult, it’s a good thing because I’m sure it needs a good stiff drink!
Of course, I was considering all this in the weeks leading up to this post so imagine my delight to see none other than Sir Burners-Lee appear in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.