30 years of the World Wide Web: what was the first web page of the story and what was it for?

World Wide Web

The physicist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web as a useful tool for scientists in 1989.

World Wide Web

 

World Wide Web: Navigating the first web page of the story is an experience that can be disappointing.

 

I had no colors, no photos, no videos. There were no graphics or animations either. Only texts, hypertexts and a somewhat confusing set of menus. Many would say that it is a can.

 

But thanks to that first WWW today we can ask Google any questions we have, use Facebook and access millions of web pages.

 

The World Wide Web (the Web) was born at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Physics, in Geneva (Switzerland), by the British engineer and physicist Tim Berners-Lee as a data exchange system among the 10,000 scientists they worked at the institution.

 

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Entrance to CERNCopyright of the imageFABRICE COFFRINI / GETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Web was born at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Physics. 

Today it is an immeasurable and intangible network of documents, images and protocols that make up the web of information that grows by leaps and bounds.

This Tuesday, March 12, marks the 30th anniversary of its creation. It was the day that Berners-Lee described the protocol of hypertext transfers that would lead to that first web: “Information management, a proposal”.

 

More than a year later, on December 20, 1990, it would be published at CERN for the first time, and outside its walls in August 1991.

 

First web proposalCopyright of the imageCERN
Image captionThis was the first website. They were pure texts and hypertexts. 

But let’s put things in context.

 

At that time there was still no Windows or Google Chrome, and the few personal computers that were on the market worked in a complex and visual way .

 

The Internet only served to use email and transfer files. And the connections were analog, which meant you had to arm yourself with patience to download the information.

 

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For those who are used to surfing the web at 3G and 4G speeds or find it unbearable that the internet “hang” in the middle of a movie, to return to the era in which the first website was born can be a true exercise of tolerance to the frustration.

 

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CERN computerCopyright of the image science & SOCIETY PICTURE LIBRARY
Image captionThis is the NeXT computer from CERN with which Berners-Lee published the web in 1990 when the proposal was reformulated. 

And the fact is that the rapid evolution of the technology that makes the internet possible makes us forget easily what the first versions of the web were like and their sad gray text boxes.

 

The Web has changed a lot since then: HTML has grown, HTTP has evolved and browsers have been modernized.

 

Maybe one of the first things that get your attention the first time you access it is that there was no address bar. There were no images or sounds either.

 

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The head of Berners-Lee at that time, Mark Sendall, described the project as a “vague but exciting” proposal.

 

Later, in 1994, Berners-Lee would create the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) , to maintain common standards in the operation of the network.

 

And in 1998 he would reflect on the process that helped him create it with these words: “If you think surfing hypertexts is great, it’s because you never tried to write them.”

 

Tim Berners-Lee in 2003 shaking hands with Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations (1997-2006).Copyright of the imageCERN
Image captionDuring the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Berners-Lee shakes hands with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (1997-2006) 

“The first website imagined a simple client-server architecture, some links, and a six-month timeframe,” explains CERN on its website.

 

If you want to test yourself and see that rudimentary web, you can do it thanks to a project that has been developed by a group of web developers and designers at CERN.

 

To commemorate the three decades of the life of the WWW, scientists have created a version of that original protocol that can be accessed through any modern browser.

 

“Click to go into it (and remember to click on the links twice”, they recommend).

 

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