A brief history of the world wide web

artistic representation of the world wide web

On August 6, 1991, the world wide web was first launched and our world has never been the same. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, while working at CERN, European Organization for Nuclear Research, found himself frustrated at not being able to access files from his computer when elsewhere at work. To make his life easier, he sketched up the idea, one that his boss described as "vague, but exciting", that would come to be known as the world wide web. Many people today think of the internet when they hear the term, "world wide web", but the two are not the same thing. The internet is a network of connected computers that communicate and share information in the form of packets. The world wide web is how the general public can access that information on the internet in a way that is usable and understandable.

Before the creation of the world wide web, less accessible versions of the internet already existed. In the 1960's, there was ARPANET, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. ARPANET was created as a way to link university and military computers via telephone lines and keep data safe by having it stored within many different computers. The first connections were made between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute, when the letters "L and O" were transmitted across computers in an attempt to spell out the word, "login". While research centers, universities, and military operations were utilizing this new technology to make their lives easier, ARPANET was just not accessible to everyone who could benefit from it.

On March 12, 1989, Tim Berners-Lee made the first steps to put the internet into the hands of the general public with the initial proposal for the world wide web. The proposal was titled, "Information Management: A Proposal", and it proposed a system for allowing users to connect to and share content through hypertext. He was given permission to work on the project in 1990, and by 1991, the world wide web was launched. The initial, and very simple, website can still be accessed today at - http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html

By 1992 there were ten websites available on the internet and in 1994 that number had grown to 3,000. After Google launched in 1996, there were 2 million websites online. Today, we can access over 1.9 billion websites thanks to the world wide web and according to Siteefy, there are 547,000 new websites being created every day globally. We now rely heavily on the world wide web in our daily life, so much so that 4.8 billion people in the world access the internet daily, which is nearly 61% of the world's population. With so many people accessing the internet, our workforce has also changed, with 52% of employees worldwide doing their jobs online at least once a week.

For his contributions to the way we use the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 for "services to the global development of the internet". In 2012, he was one of the first people to be inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. In June of 2021, his original source code for the world wide web was auctioned by Sotheby's in London as a non-fungible token (NFT), earning $5,434,500 USD, that is reported to be used by Sir Berners-Lee and his wife to fund new technology initiatives that will hopefully, and likely, further impact our world for the better.

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