“Vague, but exciting” was the brief comment that was scribbled on the World Wide Web inventor’s original proposal back in 1989. Little was the writer to know that from the moment the source code of the Word Wide Web was made available royalty free on April 30th 1993, it began to completely transform our lives.
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the free open World Wide Web. This remarkable invention was originally developed by British physicist Sir Timothy Berners-Lee of CERN to meet the data sharing needs of fellow physicists all over the world. In April 1993 CERN made the software needed to run a web server freely available, along with a basic browser and a library of code.
The world’s first ever website was dedicated to the World Wide Web (W3) project itself, providing information about the project and details of how to set up your own webpage. CERN are marking this significant anniversary by restoring the original website as a resource for future generations.
For most of us it’s hard to believe that it’s only been 20 years since the birth of the World Wide Web. Try to think back to a time when you read the news first in the newspapers, when you took books out of the library to discover information, when you had to visit the bank or at least a cash machine to check your account balance, and when shopping actually involved, well … shopping.
The World Wide Web has totally transformed the way we communicate. Once upon a time we may have written letters, picked up the telephone, or, if we were really ahead of the time, sent an e-mail. These days we tweet, we like, we poke, we write on walls, we follow, we pin, and we connect, without ever having to leave the screen.
A whole industry has built up around the World Wide Web. Before its launch there was no need for web designers, Internet marketing experts, business bloggers, and social media gurus. Without its invention SEO techniques, digital marketing strategies, and Facebook followers just wouldn’t exist. The World Wide Web has opened up an incredible array of opportunities that would have been unthinkable in the past, and businesses that have embraced its many uses are reaping the rewards.
Of course it hasn’t all been plain sailing. When the dot.com bubble, which followed the invention of the World Wide Web and lasted until the year 2000, spectacularly burst, it seemed disastrous for web-based business. However, since that time the web has gone from strength to strength at a more sedate pace, and there are new phases and developments each and every year. Now we’re in the age of multi-channel internet, with the World Wide Web accessible via smart phones, televisions, and tablets, as well as the more traditional laptops and pcs.
It is currently estimated that there are around 630 million websites online today. Asked how the whole thing really works, a large percentage of its users probably still don’t fully understand it, but most people would agree that the World Wide Web has been life changing. Perhaps it’s good that twenty years later the World Wide Web is still vague, but incredibly exciting.